According to a Wanaque Borough history written by Jeanette Biggio for the 1968 Wanaque Golden Jubilee booklet; "At about the early 1890's the Laflin Rand Powder Works were statred in the southern area of the valley called Haskell after a Colonel Haskell who headed the Laflin Rand Co." Other sources indicate that the area was named Haskells.

"In 1902 control of the Laflin Rand Company passed into the hands of E. I. DuPont Company. DuPont signed a contract with France on October 12, 1914 for eight million pounds of smokeless powder. The Haskell plant had to be enlarged to produce two hundred ten thousand pounds of powder a day." This resulted in the work force of seven thousand five hundred people (likely the combined force of the entire DuPont facility, Pompton Lakes and Haskell).

"After World War I, (the) DuPont Company began to dismantle their Haskell plant and hundreds of people left the borough. By 1926 the DuPont operations ceased completely." This and the subsequent closing of the Wanaque Paper Mill (due to the construction of the Wanaque Reservoir), the main sources of employment, lead to hundreds being out of work during a ten year period, 1929 - 1939. The lower part of the borough was said to have become a "ghost town".

The entire site was filled with buildings for manufacture, testing of the products. In Haskell, the plant property took up a better part of this section of the Borough (noteably, the area where the streets are referred to as Avenues; 2nd, 3rd, etc.) and included not only the plant, but also offices, residential and recreational facilities.

Below is a portion of a timeline for the Pompton lakes DuPont Plant. In it there is also the beginning and end of the Haskell Plant (1894 - 1926).

This chart is from an environmental study for the Federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. This is the result of chemical pollution from the compounds used to make powder, igniters and other chemical agents. Lake Inez was also drained with the destruction of the dam in Pompton lakes. The Wanaque River continues to flow through the site. The site continues to be monitored for pollution.

Date Event
1802 E.I. Dupont found by Eleuthere Irenee Du Pont.
1886 H. Julius Smith builds spark-fired blasting cap (filled with mercury fulminate) plant one-half mile from PLW entrance.

Dam build across Wanaque River creating Lake Inez.
1888 American Manufacturing and Supply Company, Ltd. built black powder mill on present Du Pont PLW site.
1891 Black powder mill sold to Metallic Cap Manufacturing Company, who dismantled the mill and built a plant to load caps.
1894 American Smokeless Powder company purchased land from H. Julius Smith and built a smokeless powder plant (known as the Haskell Plant) on the west side of Lake Inez.
1898 Haskell Plant purchased by Laflin & Rand.

Explosion at Haskell Plant and severly damaged.

Laflin & Rand purchased additional land from Smith and built a new plant having a daily capacity of 6000 pounds (lb) of smokeless powder and 1000 lb of gun cotton.
1902 Du Pont acquires control of Laflin & Rand Powder Company.

Electric Exploder company (owned by Du Pont) began operations at the newly constructed plant on the west side of Lake Inez.
1906 James Macbeth and Company cap plant moved to Pompton Lakes from Jamaica, New York, and became part of Du Pont's Electic Exploder Company. The consolidation resulted in plant emplotment of 155 workers and production of 35,000 E.B. caps per day.
1907 Du Pont acquired Metallic Cap Manufacturing Co. and property (now the center of the PLW site.)
1908 Du Pont purchased Smith Electric Fuse Co. and moved plant equipment to the Electric Exploder Co. plant on the west site of Lake Inez. This became known as Du Pont Fuse Works.

The old Metallic Cap Manufacturing Co. plant became the Du Pont works.
1917 Du Pont produces huge quantities of powder for World War I Allies. Work force at Cap and Fuse works increases to 7500 employees.
November, 1918 Production capacity:

1.5 MM ordinary blasting caps,
60 M electric blasting caps,
4.5 M lb of mercury fulminate,
200 M detonating fuses,
40 M boosters,
100 M primers,
100 M tracer and incendiary bullets, and
An unknown quantity of hand rifle grenades.

Housing boom occurs, many homeowners converted residences to rooming houses for workers. Du Pont built a dormitory colony (near the current site of Pompton Lakes High School).
1926 Du Pont discountinued operations on the west side of Lake Inez and consolidated with the current plant site on the east side of the lake.

Other sources of information:

A website for Spanish-American War Camps, 1898-1899, refers to the Camp at Pompton Lakes, NJ, and is described as follows: "The troops at this camp guarded the Laflin & Rand Power Works from the outset of the war. A July 12, 1898 explosion at the works killed at least 11 civilian workers. Troops from the 2nd Penn Vol. Inf. and 3rd N.J. Vol. Inf. were among the units at this camp. The works and camp were actually at Haskell east across the river from Pompton Lakes. The September 29, 1898 Massilion Independent (Ohio) referred to this camp as Camp Pompton."

The Pompton Lakes History site refering to the DuPont Plant.

Terence Kennedy's Website page for the Pompton Powder Works.

Back to the DuPont Powder Works