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Powdertown, Iowa
Population: Unincorporated

“For a time, the DuPont Powder Mills at Powdertown was the largest powder manufacturing operation in the entire world.  All that remains of the old plant now are the ruins of that success. The rail for the trains is just a memory with a few old supports laying where the track once was.  When the plant was in operation, workers had to stop at the front gate guardhouse before their shifts to be checked for metal in their shoes or matches in their pockets.  The site was so volatile that precautions were a necessity.  These precautions didn’t prevent tragedy in full, though, as dozens of men lost their lives working there over the years.  In one case, the police found a pair of legs three miles away dangling in a tree.  The rest of that man’s body was never recovered.

The powder was shipped all over the world in wooden boxes made on site. Because of the cost of importing the blasting powder needed for the coal mines in the area (studies revealed that over 400,000 kegs of blasting powder were utilized each year within a 165 mile radius of Powdertown), the plant was built to provide the explosive powder. In 1890 the DuPont’s Powdertown was completed. On April 17, 1890, the first powder was produced, and by 1901, the plant was the most successful and was already the largest blasting powder site in the United States.”

DISCLAIMER: Powdertown is private property.  Please seek out the owners if you wish to visit it.