Hawthorne, NV Part II

Hawthorne Army Depot’s Main Gate near Hawthorne, NV

World’s Largest Ammo Depot

The ammunition depot located near Hawthorne, NV was established in 1930. This did not happen by accident, but an accident caused it to happen. After a major disaster occurred at the Lake Denmark Naval Ammunition Depot in New Jersey in 1926. During the same week that a fire destroyed the Hawthorne business district. An accident essentially destroyed the ammunition depot while causing substantial damage to adjacent Picatinny Arsenal and the neighboring communities.

Congress wanted to find some less valuable and more isolated real estate for the new ammunition depot. After a nationwide search, Hawthorne was selected as the choice for the new depot.

U.S. Army Depot located near Hawthorne, NV is considered “The World Largest Depot” for ammunition storage and consisting of 2,247 bunkers. The depot stores conventional munitions while demilitarize and disposes of obsolete surplus munitions. During major conflicts, reserve ammunition is stored at this location for the first 30 day of the skirmish. The depot is divided into three ammunition production and storage areas.  In 1984, after nearly 50 years without a major mishap, one of the storage bunkers exploded. The blast was contained as intended through the design of the bunker, as the force of the blast went straight up instead of out preventing the deeply feared chain-reaction that occurred at Lake Denmark Navel Ammunition Depot 58 years earlier. The exact reason for the Hawthorne explosion is still a topic for debate.

Bunkers near Hawthorne, NV

Hawthorne is also the location of the United States Government national stockpile of mercury. In 2006, The Defense National Stockpile Center selected the depot for long-term storage of approximately 4,890 tons of commodity-grade, elemental mercury. Dedicated facilities were specifically designed for the long-term storage of elemental mercury containers.  The principle facility in Hawthorne is heavy regulated by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection.

Hawthorne Ordnance Museum

Hawthorne Ordnance Museum

The museum is located at 925 E Street. The museum commemorates the history of the ammunition depot and the contribution of the people that work at the facility and served in the military.

The museum has on display ordnance from WWI to present day conflicts that were stored, loaded, tested and designed at the Hawthorne Army Ammunition Depot. The museum even has a M47 Patton tank next to the building. Named after General George S. Patton who is one of the earliest advocates for tanks and tanks tactics in the battlefield.

The Mineral County Museum is located on the corner of D Street and Tenth Street. The museum has a collection of Mission Bells that were discovered buried in ground about 15 miles southeast of the town and houses one of the finest collections of artifacts and pictures preserving the history of Mineral County. The legend of the Mission Bells tells a story about a missionary, who was seeking a site to establish a mission. During his expedition, the missionary was attacked and the bells were lost during the skirmish. Although no one is sure if these bells are the same mission bells.

Both the Mineral County and Hawthorne Ordnance Museum are free admission during hours of operation.

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GPS Coordinates: 38.52464 N, -118.62457 W


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