Lake Ontario Ordnance Works (LOOW)

Buffalo District
Published Feb. 1, 2024

In 1941 the Department of Defense (DOD) purchased 7,500 acres of land in Niagara County, on which was built the former Lake Ontario Ordnance Works (LOOW), for the purpose of manufacturing trinitrotoluene (TNT) during World War II. The TNT production, production support, and storage areas were constructed on approximately 2,500 acres. The remaining 5,000 acres, located to the west of the production area, were left undeveloped. During World War II, the Army manufactured TNT for about 9 months at a facility on the site, which included a power plant, hospital, fire department, water supply system, and waste treatment system.

The TNT plant was decommissioned in 1943. In 1945, 5,000 acres outside the production areas were declared excess and transferred to General Service Administration for disposal to private landowners. The remaining acres were used by various government agencies. As Department of Defense operations decreased, additional property was sold. Current owners of the site include the Lewiston-Porter Schools, local and federal governments, general residential areas, and private corporations.

In the 1940s approximately 1,500 acres in the southern portion of the LOOW production area were transferred to the Manhattan Engineering District (MED), which later became the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and then the Department of Energy (DOE). From the 1950s to the 1980s this area was used for various activities including the production of high energy fuel, and storage of radioactive materials during the development of the atomic bomb. Of the original 1,500 acres, 191 acres is still owned by the DOE and is known as the Niagara Falls Storage Site (NFSS), while the remainder are owned by other entities and known as vicinity properties of the NFSS.