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Bombs Away!

Many plant workers during WWII were female

Many plant workers during WWII were female.

On March 24, 1942, construction began on the Cornhusker Ordnance Plant near Grand Island. Bombs and cannon shells were produced during World War II. The plant eventually sprawled over a twenty square mile area at its location five miles west of Grand Island.

Cornhusker Ordnance Plant workers poured the first bomb on November 11, 1942, and loading operations continued until August 16, 1945, the day after Japan surrendered. During World War II, plant workers were employed mainly in the loading of 260-pound and 90 -pound fragmentation bombs, l,000-pound and 2,000-pound general demolition bombs, and 105 mm high explosive artillery shells.

As Grand Island’s largest and most diverse industry during World War II, the Cornhusker Ordnance Plant employed some 15,000 workers during the Nov. 1942-Aug. 1945 period. At its peak, the Plant employed 4,229 workers.

After the war, the plant went through a decontamination process and was placed in standby condition. In the 1950s, the Silas Mason Company used the plant for rocket manufacture. During the Korean and Vietnam wars, 500-pound and 750 -pound bombs were assembled there for the Army Air Corps and Air Force.

In the later twentieth century, the plant was on layaway status, although it was used as an Air Force satellite ground support station during 1978-1982. For most of the rest of the 1980s, the plant and the grounds were leased to private operators on a bid basis.

For information on records, photographs, and other documentation, visit www.nebraskahistory.org . Search “Cornhusker Ordnance Plant.” Posted photograph is RB0825-7-9  SFN 17075. See website for details on photo orders.

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