Historical photos of nearby Picatinny Arsenal give Rockaway Mall patrons insight into Arsenal’s key role in national defense

By Eric KowalNovember 30, 2023

ROCKAWAY, N.J. - Brig. Gen. John T. Reim, Picatinny Arsenal Commanding General looks at a series of historical photos at the nearby Rockaway Townsquare Mall in Rockaway, New Jersey, on Nov. 29.
ROCKAWAY, N.J. - Brig. Gen. John T. Reim, Picatinny Arsenal Commanding General looks at a series of historical photos at the nearby Rockaway Townsquare Mall in Rockaway, New Jersey, on Nov. 29. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Jesse Glass) VIEW ORIGINAL

ROCKAWAY, N.J. - Picatinny Arsenal officials unveiled a series of historical photos at the nearby Rockaway Townsquare Mall in Rockaway, New Jersey, on Nov. 29 as a way to provide mall patrons and holiday shoppers information on the Arsenal’s contributions to national defense.

Two areas of the bi-level neighboring shopping center are plastered with photographic reprints and enlargements highlighting two crucial eras in the history of the northern New Jersey U.S. Army installation. Picatinny plays a vital role in the research, development, acquisition and lifecycle management of advanced conventional weapon systems and ammunition for all branches of the U.S. military.

The centerpiece of this display is a Life Magazine article from October 1943, showcasing Picatinny Arsenal’s capabilities to support the war effort. During the war, Picatinny employed nearly 18,000 people working three shifts per day, seven days per week.

The second location of photos within the mall focuses on pre-Arsenal history, from the Revolutionary War to include information about several forges that were critical to the war effort, producing iron cannon balls and incendiary grenades. A great deal of archaeological work has been done across the Arsenal which has helped to expand knowledge of these two eras of Picatinny and has produced a number of archaeological discoveries by the garrison’s Cultural Resources program.

Jeff Ranu, a historian with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center, and Rachael Winston, a Cultural Resources Manager within the garrison’s Environmental Affairs Division, provided an overview of the historical timeline on display to the group that gathered for the exhibit’s official opening.

ROCKAWAY, N.J. - Picatinny Arsenal officials, along with staff from the Rockaway Townsquare Mall, in front of the phjoto display showcasing the Arsenal’s capabilities to support the second World War effort.
ROCKAWAY, N.J. - Picatinny Arsenal officials, along with staff from the Rockaway Townsquare Mall, in front of the phjoto display showcasing the Arsenal’s capabilities to support the second World War effort. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Jesse Glass) VIEW ORIGINAL

“I want to thank to the Rockaway Townsquare Mall for providing Picatinny with the opportunity to showcase the diverse history of the Arsenal,” said Brig. Gen. John T. Reim, Picatinny Arsenal Commanding General. “From its role in the Revolutionary War to the present day, Picatinny Arsenal remains a hub of innovation and a testament to the enduring partnership between the installation and the community it serves.”

Evolving from a storage depot established in the heart of Morris County in 1880, Picatinny Arsenal has revolved to become the home of Army expertise in ordnance and armament research and development and production management since 1907.

“For the past century, Picatinny Arsenal has been at the forefront of armaments and ammunition research and development in Morris County, New Jersey,” Reim said. “As a testament to our dedication, we proudly hold the distinction of being recognized as a Department of Defense Joint Center of Excellence in Guns and Ammunition,” the general continued. “While hoping for a world without conflicts on the scale of World War II, Picatinny Arsenal stands prepared to support the warfighter with safe, reliable, and lethal armaments and ammunition.

“Crucial to our success is the unwavering support from the local community which empowers Picatinny to safeguard the nation's security and protect those fighting for it,” Reim said. “This collaboration with the community has positioned Picatinny as a key player in rebuilding the Arsenal of Democracy. Notably, Picatinny Arsenal is not only a cornerstone of technological advancement but also a significant contributor to the local economy.”

The display at the Rockaway Townsquare Mall will be up for an undetermined period and is subject to change.

Integrated with the Armaments Center’s historian and the Garrison Cultural Resource Manager is the Picatinny Arsenal Historical Society. This organization is a separate entity that meets monthly to present to the public info on Picatinny's history. If you are interested in receiving PAHS emails on upcoming meetings, please email picatinnyhistory@gmail.com.

ROCKAWAY, N.J. - Jeff Ranu, a historian with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center, speaks to the audience gathered at the mall's unveiling of a series of historical photos showcasing the Arsenal’s contributions to national defense.
ROCKAWAY, N.J. - Jeff Ranu, a historian with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center, speaks to the audience gathered at the mall's unveiling of a series of historical photos showcasing the Arsenal’s contributions to national defense. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Jesse Glass) VIEW ORIGINAL