Picatinny Arsenal, NJ Image 1
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    Picatinny Arsenal, NJ History

    Picatinny Arsenal was established in 1880 as the Picatinny Powder Depot, just a munitions depot for the Army, which in that era was centralizing its powder depots from around the country, to a limited number of secure bases. This area was chosen because it had shielding hills to guard civilians against accidental detonations. The 1890s saw a few hundred acres transferred to the US Navy for their powder storage needs, reabsorbed into Army control in 1960. In 1907 the depot was renamed to Picatinny Arsenal and began to produce powder, the first step toward more general munitions manufacturing. In 1911 a weaponry sciences school was established, and with the arrival of the First World War Picatinny expanded its mission to the construction of testing and control laboratories, in addition to design, experimentation and development of artillery ammunition and fuzes.

    To keep up with Army needs, the arsenal evolved throughout the years, and gradually expanded, acquiring land and houses from local farmers. Disaster struck the Arsenal in 1926, when a fire broke out, eventually detonating several million pounds of explosives, killing several military and civilian workers, and causing many millions of dollars of damages. A major investigation followed, and new safety oversight and systems put in place.

    During World War II, the Arsenal expanded housing and production, and focused on the manufacturing of explosives and artillery shells, running round the clock; but managed to put out some technological advancements in the invention of a delay fuze for skip bombs and some specialized bombs for dams and oil rigs.

    After the war, Picatinny concentrated on the research of new weapons and munitions in the categories of missiles, missile interception, pyrotechnics, radar, time fuzes, and (briefly) nuclear munitions. This is the facility where the Picatinny rail was militarized for field service.

    As a result of its contributions, it became the headquarters for the Armament Research and Development Command in 1977 (later renamed the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center in 1986), and was assigned the task of advancing munitions and little caliber weapons. Presently, Picatinny arsenal continues serving the military as the headquarters of the U.S Army Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center.