In 1920, after World War I, the Army established permanent ammunition
Depot at Ogden, Utah, north of Salt Lake City. Ogden Arsenal, although
regarded as a key center of Army supply in the West, was unable to expand at
the outset of World War II because it was immediately surrounded by an airfield,
highways, and fertile farms. In 1942, the Army therefore acquired a
tract of 25,000 acres four miles south of Tooele, Utah, and 35 miles southwest
of Salt Lake City, to serve as the location for a new ammunition depot.
The Army chose the desert site near Tooele for four reasons: first, it was
situated far enough inland from the West Coast to be defendable from attack
by sea or air; second, the sandy loam soil of the area absorbed shocks - a
necessary feature in case of accidental detonation or bombing; third, the site
was adjacent to the Great Salt Lake Desert where ammunition, artillery pieces
and vehicles in storage would be less vulnerable to rust and corrosion in the
dry climate; and finally, the site, which had been formerly used for sheep
grazing, was uninhabited and without any existing structures.
In the spring of 1942, the contract for construction of the Tooele Army Depot was
awarded to Inter-Mountain Contactors, a corporation comprised of four contractors:
Peter Keiwit Sons of Omaha; Morrison-Knudsen of Boise; Ford J. Twaits
of Los Angeles; and Griffith Company also of Los Angeles. This contract
called for the construction of warehouse space, storage magazines, igloo storage
buildings, and gravel-surfaced, open-air storage space. The bid for the prime
construction contract was $26,724,598.
Groundbreaking for construction was begun in June 1942, but problems due to
blowing sands and shifting soils were immediately encountered by construction
crews, hampering construction efforts and forcing delays and shutdowns. Despite
these and other problems, the contract was completed by January 1943.
The problem of shifting soils was not alleviated, however, until later that year
when Utah State University personnel planted drought resistant grasses to prevent
Between 1942 and 1943, construction at the Depot established three areas:
ammunition storage area, comprising the western portion of the site; the maintenance and storage area, in the northeast corner of the site; and the administrative area, situated in the southeast corner of the installation.
The ammunition storage area consisted of 800 concrete arches, earth-covered
igloo-type storage magazines, each with a capacity to store 500,000 pounds of
ammunition. The storage section covered an area of eight square miles,
divided into eight blocks of one square mile each. An ammunition renovation
facility and an area of above-ground magazines were also competed in this
section of the installation. The primary buildings in the ammunition renovation
area (Buildings 1251 and 1254) housed the major ammunition demilitarization
operations but were supported by numerous small facilities that provided paint
shops, box shops, and minor repair shops. The above-ground magazine consisted
of 12 hollow block buildings (Buildings 1201-1212). All of these buildings remain,
and are still used for similar functions.
The maintenance and storage area consisted of 26 warehouses, all of which are
180' by 500�' wood frame structures with concrete loading docks and adjacent
railroad spurs. The warehouses (Buildings 620-621 through 670-671 and 637-639
through 697-699) were built during 1942 and 1943. Five smaller warehouses,
utility buildings, and other maintenance facilities were also built in this area.
A one-million dollar tank repair shop (Building 619) was completed in 1943
under a separate contract to establish a maintenance facility capable of rebuilding
vehicles and artillery pieces.
The administrative area, consisting of a headquarters section with officers'
housing, a 1,080 unit Lanham Housing Project, a barracks area for enlisted
personnel, a hospital and a prisoner of war camp, was also built during this
The headquarters�' section includes the main headquarters building (Building 1), a
fire station (Building 8), five single family houses (Buildings 25-29), and a visiting
officers' quarters (Building 35).
The Lanham Housing Project, known as TOD (Tooele Ordinance Depot) Park,
originally included permanent community facilities as well as housing. The quarters for the expanded World War II workforce and included such amenities as a shopping center, a post office, and an elementary school. Six community�'s buildings (Buildings 1001-1005) remain, but the housing units were declared excess following World War II and over a number of years were either sold or demolished.
No other major construction projects were completed immediately following
World War I, but with American involvement in the Korean War, activities at
the depot increased. Although most of the facilities at Tooele were originally
designed for temporary service, the Korean War forced the renovation of many
of the older World War II structures. Warehouses and maintenance buildings
were improved by the addition of asbestos shingles and siding. By the end of
1952, more than $572,000 had been expended for improving these facilities.
Following the Korean War, an additional 103 igloo-type storage magazines were
built in 1953 to expand the storage capacity of Tooele. These magazines were
sited among t the existing ammunition storage grounds and still remain. An
ammunition disassembly area (Buildings 1300-1306) was also completed as part
of this construction effort.
Other facilities constructed since the Korean War include a new ammunition
maintenance facility (Buildings 1366-1375), completed in 1970, and a demilitarization
plant (Buildings 1377-1380), finished in 1976. Both facilities, which are located
in an isolated portion in the southwest corner of the depot site.
The original mission of the Tooele Ordnance Depot, assigned in December 1942,
was to store vehicles, small arms, and fire control equipment, and to overhaul
and modify tracked vehicles. In this capacity, Tooele was designated
a back-up' depot for, the Stockton Ordnance Depot and Benicia Arsenal, both
in California. In July 1943, Tooele was designated as a reserve storage depot
for tank and combat vehicle tools and equipment, and in November of the
same year, the Tooele Ordnance Depot also became the supply center for
materiel required by the Ogden Arsenal, located in nearby Ogden, Utah.
In May 1955, Tooele Ordnance Depot assimilated Deseret Depot Activity (now
Tooele South Area) and the functions of the Ogden Arsenal. In 1962, the
depot took over distribution of ordnance supplies within the State of Utah,
formerly handled by the Pueblo Ordnance Depot, Colorado, and the supply
mission for the Sixth U.S. Army to the western states, Alaska and the islands of the Pacific, formerly assigned to Mount Rainer Ordnance Depot, Tacoma,
Washington and Benicia Arsenal. Benicia, California. The machine shop of the
Naval Supply Depot at Clearfield, Utah, was also assimilated by the Tooele
Ordnance Depot at this time.
With the consolidation of the Army�'s technical services in August 1962, the
name of Tooele Ordnance Depot was changed to Tooele Army Depot. In
August 1973, Umatilla Depot Activity in Hermiston, Oregon was placed under
the command of Tooele Army Depot. Fort Wingate Depot Activity, Gallup,
New Mexico and Navajo Army Depot Activity, Flagstaff, Arizona were assigned
to Tooele in September 1975, and Pueblo Depot Activity, Pueblo, Colorado was
assigned to Tooele in June 1976.
The Tooele Army Depot, part of the U.S. Army Depot System Command
DESCOM) occupied 24,732 acres. Its mission was supply, storage, and maintenance of general commodities and ammunition and had facilities capable of handling, storing, demilitarizing and processing ammunition. In addition to its supply and storage functions, the depot also repaired, overhauled and maintained automotive and construction equipment, rail equipment, and missile system components.
In March 1993, part of the site (1,663 acres) was placed on the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list. As a BRAC site, 41 acres were transferred by the U.S. Army for private use in 1996. The remaining 1,622 acres of the BRAC parcel were transferred to the Redevelopment Agency of the city of Tooele in January of 1999. The property was subsequently sold by Tooele City to a commercial developer. Contaminated areas in the 1,663-acre parcel are being cleaned up by the U.S. Army. The remaining 22,069 acres of the depot will be retained by the Army for continued storage of conventional ammunition.
In 2010, the Depot was the first U.S. Army installation to have a wind turbine installed and used to supplement electrical power. This one turbine is currently producing 30 percent of the Depot�'s needed power during working hours.
In developing an �"energy corridor," the Tooele Army Depot, Sacramento Corps of Engineers, CDM Smith, and Infinia, Corp., partnered to erect a 429 stirling solar wind power dish farm. When 100 percent operational, late summer 2014, it will also provide 30 percent of the Depot�'s needed electrical power. The Depot has a few other projects funded and waiting for installation.
During a special U.S. Army ceremony, Deseret Chemical Depot (DCD) was formally closed July 11, 2014. U.S. Army officials called it a transfer of property - taking Deseret Chemical Depot's, or DCD's, 19,000-plus acres and transferred them to Tooele Army Depot.
With the additional acres and facilities, the Depot has increased their mission foot print with 19,364 acres, 208 storage igloos, 34 above ground igloos and 86 additional buildings.
Today, a majority of the 72 year old buildings are still in use. Many have been refurbished and patched to make sufficient for use. Civilian employment is at approximately 470, with an average age of 49, and the Depot has two military; Commander and Marine Liaison.
Some things remain constant for the Depot, such as: a dedicated and highly skilled civilian workforce with unique capabilities, and a core mission of being Department of Defense�'s western region conventional ammunition hub supporting the Warfighter readiness through superior receipt, storage, issue, demil and renovation of conventional ammunition and the design, manufacture, fielding and maintenance of ammunition peculiar equipment.
Happy 72ND Birthday, TOOELE ARMY DEPOT.