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Old Hickory Village History

In mid-1914, a political stew brewing on European soil reached a full boil. Shots rang out, an Archduke was killed, and war began. Fighting would continue for another three years before the United States would get involved. When the U.S. entered the war, the demand for gunpowder required an increase in its production. The country’s existing facilities couldn’t meet the demand. As a result, the U.S. Government joined forces with the E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company to build a gun powder facility in Jacksonville, Tennessee, a farming community along the banks of the Cumberland River we now call Old Hickory. The project required the creation of an entire city along with acres upon acres of machinery to support the needs of the war and its employees.

Between ground breaking on March 8 and Armistice Day (November 11), 1918, the construction of the plant and village required over 700,000,000 board-feet of lumber, 60,000,000 bricks, and 18,000,000 square feet of composition construction material. The completed plant consisted of 1,112 buildings threaded with 33 miles of broad gauge railroad track and 46 miles of three-foot gauge tramway. Due to the ending of WWI, none of the gunpowder produced during its short existence was ever used.

For operating the gunpowder plant and housing its workers, DuPont received a fee based on output. After taxes it came to 1 percent of value of product made. But for building this huge project, DuPont sent the United States Government an odd bill. The price: a single dollar.