The Atlantic Loading Company, also known as Amatol Arsenal or just Amatol, was a World War I ammunitions plant on 6,000 acres in the pine barrens of Atlantic County. Its associated company town was also named Amatol (located two miles to the east of the plant).
Construction of the plant began on March 4, 1918, and was completed in nine months. The plant was designed for safety & redundancy, with fire prevention and explosive prevention features. Manufacturing buildings were steel-framed construction with concrete or corrugated metal sides. Hydrants were placed inside & outside the buildings, each equipped with 100 feet of hose. Fire buckets were placed 20 feet apart. Exhaust air systems carried away fumes & dust.
The Amatol Arsenal was designed to load a variety of shells, from 75mm projectiles to hand grenades.
Amatol was one of the explosives used in production in the plant. It was a combination of TNT & ammonium nitrate. It was formulated to be safe to handle but could be harder to detonate due to its susceptibility to moisture. Its formulation conserved the scarce chemicals used to make explosives.
The Amatol Arsenal ceased operations in 1923. Today, the arsenal site is covered by mature forest. The only extant structure of the plant is the former NJ State Police barracks located on White Horse Pike (Route 30) between Hammonton & Elwood. About 1,700 acres of the former site are now managed by the State of New Jersey as the Hammonton Creek Wildlife Management Area.
Narrative adapted from Shell Loading at Amatol, NJ.
Photos courtesy of:
Shell Loading at Amatol, N.J.: Construction and Operation of a Shell Loading Plant and the Town of Amatol, N.J., 1919