Ralph Pfingsten became familiar with the Ravenna Arsenal and Plum Brook while doing biological surveys for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. This gave him access into these highly restricted facilities, where he was able to document what he saw. This rare access combined with his love of history made him the perfect choice to write this book. This is the fourth book that Pfingsten has written. His other books include; Salamanders of Ohio, The History of John Marshall High School and From Rockport to Westpark.
The book is published by the Northern Ohio Railway Museum. Like his other two history books, all of the proceeds go to a non-profit organization. In this case, the railway museum, where Pfingsten has been a volunteer for over 20 years, is the beneficiary. The mission of the Northern Ohio Railway Museum is to collect, preserve, restore, display, and operate streetcars and other electric railway equipment for the education and enjoyment of the public. The museum owns forty-two acres of land in southern Medina County, including two miles of the former Cleveland and Southwestern interurban railroad. At this site the museum has built over a mile of track and three large buildings to house its collection of historic trolleys, interurbans, and rapid transit cars, most from the northern Ohio area.
Chapter 1. Pre-arsenal and land acquisition
How did the government acquire 250+ parcels of land in two months? Why was it built here?
Chapter 2. Construction
Within nine months of acquiring the property, artillery shells were rolling off the first mile long “factory.”
Chapter 3. Housing Problems
What do you do with the 16,000 people who showed up for work last week?
Chapter 4. Ravenna Ordnance Plant
The Plant was the production side of the facility where shells and fuses were manufactured and loaded.
Chapter 5. Portage Ordnance Depot
The Depot was the storage area where 600+ igloos/bunkers stored everything from small artillery shells to 2,000 pound bombs.
Chapter 6. Production
How were explosives loaded into shells?
Chapter 7. TNT Production – Plum Brook and Keystone
These two nearby facilities produced the TNT that was loaded into shells at Ravenna.
Chapter 8. Transportation / Railroad Network
125 miles of track that was in constant use during WW II.
Chapter 9. Infrastructure
Water, sewer, housing, telephone / telegraph, electricity, heat, roads, railroads, security, hospital / medical, food and food service, accounting, purchasing were all needed NOW.
Chapter 10. Non – War Activities
Munitions returned from war zones, inspections, storage, demolition, disposal, preparation for next crisis.
Chapter 11. Recreation
Baseball, softball, picnics, movies, fishing, golf, basketball, horseshoes, table tennis, volleyball, concerts, visits from Santa.
Chapter 12. Natural Resources
Wells, ponds, streams, wetlands, rare plants and animals, quarries, timber.
Chapter 13. The Military
Commanders, inspections, security, the National Guard.
Chapter 14. The Future: Clean Up and the National Guard
The cost of cleaning up and how it is done. Expansion as a training facility.