While most people don't equate Nitro with Raymond City, I believe there was once a connection.

See a large image of the above photo HERE

It's often assumed the town of Nitro is named after nitroglycerin, but Nitro's name can be traced back to its origins as a World War I facility to make nitrocellulose, which is used to manufacture gunpowder.  The government chose the area that is now Nitro for one of three new explosives plants after the United States entered the war. The plants were built to relieve a severe shortage of gunpowder. Even though construction at Nitro had begun the week before, official groundbreaking ceremonies for the plant were held January 2, 1918. It took just 11 months for workers to build the plant.  

 See a very large photo of the Nitro plant HERE  

And also see a very large photo of the early housing on 21st Street HERE.  

Everything had to be provided, as there was nothing here in the beginning.  This great photo shows at least 6 people trying to stay out of the mud.  The old car and horse and buggy was the turning point in technology.

See a large photo HERE


Inside a Nitro establishment of the day.  There were 110,000 total people on the payroll. But the average only stayed about 6 weeks. There was terrific turnover. The most that was ever working in Nitro at one time was about 30,000. Clark Gable, who was to become a major Hollywood movie star, was one of them.

See a large photo HERE


A rolling fund drive for the war effort in Nitro.


While not in Nitro proper, this photo was included in the batch of photos discovered.  I have a feeling that this mine was a main contributor to the Nitro effort.  The Big Otto Mine was owned by the Otto Marmet Coal and Mining Company in Raymond City.   From the WV Dept of Mines comes the following report in 1907:

This is a drift mine located on Harmon's Creek, five miles east of Raymond City, on a short line railroad to the K. & M. Railroad and the river tipple. The Pittsburg Seam of coal is operated which has a thickness of five and a half feet with a slate roof of a dangerous character, but the miners are well supplied with timber and the mine Is properly timbered. The developments are on the double entry system ventilated by an eight-foot Thayer fan which gives fair results. Cross cuts between entries and rooms are regularly driven; mine doors and stoppings in fair condition. Oil used for illuminating purposes is of a fair quality. All powder is taken into the mine in five pound flasks. The management has recently built a powder magazine and furnished two metallic flasks for each miner. At the end of each day's work the empty flasks are left at the magazine where a man is employed to fill them and give out the full flasks each morning. The second opening meets with the requirements of law. Rules are posted at the mine: safety lamp and stretchers kept at hand. EDWARD SCHONEBAUM, Supt. ANDREW ITTT, Mine Boss.

Edwin Shonebaum in his office in Raymond City


The huge coal dock at Raymond City, about where the boat launch is today.


The explosives plant was not completed in time to help the war effort. The facilities were sold at auction and Nitro eventually became the center of one of the most productive chemical industries in the world.

See a large photo HERE


This appears to be the Cooke Funeral Home in Nitro in the 50s.  Still looking for positive identification.


Nitro photos courtesy of Melody McCormick


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