From 'War's Greatest Workshop' (1922)

"Rock Island Arsenal was literally transformed by construction projects undertaken immediately prior to, during, and just following the period in which this country was involved in the World War. One familiar with these premises before that conflict would scarcely recognize them after the work was completed. All construction was done under high pressure, but most of it was of a permanent character and detracts nothing from the impression of durability, as well as of architectural beauty and utility which the institution always has given the visitor."


During World War I, Rock Island Arsenal was responsible for production of a wide assortment of war materiel. This included gun and ammunition carriages, recoil mechanisms, harnesses, rifles, personal effects (such as haversacks, canteens, and silverware), and much more. When the war ended, there was a need to store surplus materiel and materiel returning from Europe. The Arsenal's vast construction program was expanded to include the space needed for storage.

Available storage space increased from 545,000 square feet in 1917, to more than 12 million cubed feet by the time the war ended. This did not include the government's recent acquisition of the Savanna Proving Grounds north of the arsenal. The Savanna Proving Ground and Army Depot added 13,000 acres of outdoor storage space. The purpose for the Savanna site was to increase available storage to the main installation at Rock Island. In addition, gun and artillery testing took place at this facility.

At Rock Island Arsenal, the increase in storage space came in the form of over 70 new buildings; the largest was "Storehouse W1."

Today, Storehouse W1 is designated as Building 350, and houses the U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command (JMC). Most of the storage buildings at the south side of the island have been destroyed. Meanwhile, the buildings on the north side now house many Army offices, including Morale, Wellness, and Recreation (MWR), the Commissary, and the Post Exchange.

Storage Area Facts

Storage: 545,000 square feet (pre-war); 948,000 square feet (1918); 1,764,837 square feet (1919).
Cubic storage: 12,250,000 cubic feet
Cost: $3,000,000
Buildings: 73
Largest: Storehouse W1 (Now Building 350)

Savanna Proving Ground
Acres: 13,146
Cost: $1,500,000
Established: June 12, 1917
Closed: March 18, 2000