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     Northern  Ohio  Railway  Museum

PO Box 458  Chippewa Lake, Ohio 44215-0458
Phone: 330-769-5501


New Book unlocks the mysteries of this known, but yet unknown site

It’s a place shrouded in secrecy. It was created in a rush on the eve of World War II. It is ringed by barbed wire fences. It’s an unlikely nature preserve. It was suggested that it become a jet port. You say the name and everyone knows of it, yet little is known about it. Do you know the place?

Now available is a comprehensive book by historian Ralph Pfingsten that tells the wondrous history of the Ravenna Arsenal. It covers the history of the arsenal in detail from inception in 1940, its service to our country, and its present uses. The book also documents the related Plum Brook Ordnance Works near Sandusky. This book is your chance to peer inside the arsenals’ security fences and learn what secrets these formerly classified military facilities possessed.

More than 900 photographs and drawings illustrate this fascinating narrative. This 340+ page hardbound book is printed on heavy high gloss paper to best showcase the many rare and never before seen photographs. The book retails for $49.95 and arrives just in time for holiday gift giving.

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.

Contact: Ralph Pfingsten

Phone: 440-243-7568

The author is available for guest appearances and interviews.

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Last updated 01/13/2012

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Walt Stoner
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