|August 10, 1918 - Old Hickory News - While this picture doesn't show all the men who have been making history at Old Hickory Plant, it gives one some ideas of the type of fellows on the job.|
|The negotiations to build the powder plant at Old Hickory were complicated, sometimes ugly, and not without controversy. When the smoke cleared, the government was involved with the construction of the Nitro Plant in Charleston, West Virginia with the Thompson-Starrett company and the Old Hickory Powder Works with DuPont. All documentation indicates that the government favored the Nitro Plant construction over Old Hickory. A somewhat strained competition began between the sites. Nitro was expected to produce powder before Old Hickory. Here, is where this story begins..............|
|The following information is taken directly from David Brand's Thesis at Vanderbilt University - "Fill the Empty Shell: The Story of the Government Munitions Project at Old Hickory, Tennessee 1918-1919" – May 1971|
|On June 1, 1918, DuPont
workers completed construction of the first sulphuric acid production
section. Construction had been started only sixty days earlier and
was the first unit to be placed in operation. Consequently, a
ceremony was held to mark the occasion. Old Hickory supervisors
invited state and local government leaders, and a contingent of Du Pont
company officials came down from Wilmington to participate. The
wife of an assistant resident engineer broke a bottle of wine to
christen the unit, while a band played "The Star Spangled Banner.
" The governor of Tennessee, Thomas C. Rye, threw the switch that
turned the machinery for the first time.
DuPont workers completed other units shortly thereafter, moving the first powder line closer and closer to operational readiness. The first nitric acid unit was completed ten days later. On June 14, water was pumped to the filter plant through one and a half miles of forty-two inch water pipe. Construction crews finished work on the first cotton purification plant on June 21 and the first guncotton unit three days later. On July 2, 1918, P.S. du Pont was able to instruct W.S. Gregg in Washington to pass on the following message to the Chief of Ordnance, Major General C.C. Williams and Colonel Samuel McRoberts:
We are glad to advise you that the initial charge of guncotton was started through the first unit of the powder plant at Old Hickory July 1st.......Everything progressed satisfactorily and granulated powder is now in the solvent recovery. This unit will now be placed in full operation and brought up to full capacity as quickly as possible....This final step in starting up the first unit of the powder plant is three months ahead of the schedule promised through contract dated January 29 and one month ahead of the schedule promised under the contract of the Du Pont Engineering Company as contractors dated March 23rd.
DuPont officials at Old Hickory were delighted with their progress. It proved at least a partial response to public officials who had challenged the company's motives and questioned its ability during the winter negotiations. The company gave the Old Hickory construction workers a holiday on July Fourth in keeping with national tradition and as a reward for their efforts.
Company officials were especially pleased that the plant at Old Hickory started producing powder before the government plant at Nitro. They could not resist the urge to flaunt their success. Harry M. Pierce told the story for P.S. du Pont years later:
The terrific strain we were under was not without its humorous side. In March Major Wood, Government Dispersing Officer, was relieved at Old Hickory and sent to Nitro. On taking leave he was very complimentary to the boys, stating he liked the way we handled our work and the way we did things. The boys thanked him and jokingly told him that they would send him a box of powder made at Old Hickory for the Fourth of July celebration at Nitro. The Major thought this quite a joke --- and had a hearty laugh at the expense of the young engineers. The powder which was granulated on July 2nd had not been thru the solvent recovery, but made good fireworks, so accordingly --- a box of powder was sent to Major Wood via one of our Engineers.... The Major received the box in excellent spirits and at the Fourth of July banquet, he presented it with an appropriate speech to the Nitro Organization. The men were on their feet at once and wanted to know how this happened. The Thompson-Starrett Company contractors immediately took the floor calling red-tape and other things not so complimentary, placing the blame on the Government men. The incident disrupted the banquet so much it almost ended in a fight. There is no doubt in my mind but that this incident saved the Government several weeks' time in completing the Old Hickory Plant and stirred up the Nitro Organization.
Hickory's Resident Engineer
Old Hickory News - August 10, 1918
Mr. Brook Jackson, Resident Engineer of Old Hickory, is one of the busiest men on the place. He knows what he wants, where he wants it and when he wants it - and then he gets it.
He was born in Wyoming, Del., August 7th 1884, and celebrated his 34th anniversary Wednesday by working like a Trojan.
After attending the public schools of his town he entered Delaware College, Newark and graduated as a civil engineer in 1909. Between public school and college, however, there were three and one-half years of work as a clerk for the Charles Warner Company, builders supplies, in Wilmington.
His first work for the DuPont Company was a rodman at Carney's Point in 1907.
As a youngster Mr. Jackson, like most of the boys in that section of Delaware, aspired to be a brakeman on the Pennsylvania Railroad.
His first work after graduation was as a rodman for Gilbert C. White, consulting engineer at Durham, N.C., on new road work in Alamance County. In February, 1910, Mr. Jackson went with the DuPont Company as assistant engineer at Repauno, N.J. In May of the same year he succeeded the resident engineer at the Fulminate Cap and Fuze Works, Pompton Lakes, N.J.
In November, 1913, he was assistant to the resident engineer in constructing the dynamite and black powder works at Bacchus, Utah.
In November, 1914, he was assistant to the resident engineer in the construction of the Hopewell Gun Cotton plant, and from June, 1915, to completion of the plant in November, 1916, he was resident engineer.
From June, 1916, to November , 1916, he was resident engineer in the construction of the Nitrate of Starch plant at Penniman, Va.
In November, 1916, he was detailed to work abroad for the E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, returning in December, 1917.
From January 1917, to May, 1918, Mr. Jackson was resident engineer for the DuPont Engineering Company in the construction of the shell-loading plant at Penniman, Va., that being his last work before coming to Old Hickory.
From May, 1918, to July 15, 1918, he was assistant to the resident engineer at Old Hickory on which latter date he was made Resident Engineer.
his favorite sports are golf and baseball. "I can play most everything," he said, "just well enough to lose."