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Highland Industrial Park


Highland Industrial Park Today, is a storage and testing facility for Defense Department contractors in East Camden, is in Calhoun and Ouachita counties. The 17,000-acre park contains 600 munitions storage bunkers. Used for testing and storing Navy ammunitions during World War II, much of the former depot now functions as the Highland Industrial Park, where several Defense Department contractors store munitions and conduct tests. This site has been referred to by a number of names including Shumaker Ordnance Plant, Camden Naval Ordnance Plant, Naval Operations Camden-Shumaker, and U.S. Naval Ammunition Depot - Shumaker, Camden, Arkansas.

The former Shumaker Naval Ammunition Depot (NAD), consisting of 68,417.82 acres, was located four miles northeast of Camden, Arkansas on the east side of U.S. Highway 79 and north of State Highway Number 4. The NAD covered land in two counties, Calhoun and Ouachita. The location is further described as being located at Latitude 33 degrees, 38 minutes North, and 92 degrees, 42 minutes West; 95 miles south of Little Rock, Arkansas and 87 miles east of Texarkana, Arkansas.

The site was operated by the U.S. Navy from 1944 until 1957 for the manufacture, testing, storage, distribution, disassembly, reworking, and destruction of ammunition, bombs, and explosives, principally rockets. It was operated by the National Fireworks Ordnance Corporation as a government owned - contractor operated (GOCO) facility under the supervision of U.S. Navy personnel. Improvements to the site included an elaborate railroad track and spurline system, hundreds of reinforced concrete storage magazines, loading dock facilities, headquarters and administration buildings, and an eight mile long rocket test range in addition to production and handling facilities for all types of high explosive admixtures, to include TNT, Composition "B", Ammonium Nitrate, RDX Base and aluminum powder.

International Paper in 1961 bought 40,000 acres of forest at the former naval depot. The Brown family of Texas, later famous for its partnership in the global Brown and Root construction company, bought the remaining 25,000 acres. The purchase included the headquarters buildings, the depot's extensive network of railways, hundreds of warehouses, production facilities and bunkers where the Navy stored explosives and ammunition. Highland Resources Inc., a subsidiary of Brown Engineering, then began operating the depot as an industrial park and defense contractors began taking over the old facilities. The Navy's housing area became the town of East Camden. The depot commander's house became a guest house for visiting consultants, executives and engineers.

The Reagan-era defense buildup swelled production and employment at the park. By 1984, the LTV Aerospace and Defense Company produced one MLRS rocket every three minutes and several launch vehicles every week in its East Camden plant. General Dynamics produced Sparrow missiles, and Hitech Inc., made demolition charges for the Army and underwater demolition kits for the Navy. The end of the Cold War brought defense spending cutbacks. Tracor and General Dynamics layed off workers, causing a rise in local unemployment rates. Tracor, which had 440 employees at the end of 1989, had only 90 by April 1990. General Dynamics, which once employed 1,500 workers, was by now down to 550.

Notable features located within the boundaries of the former installation are three cemeteries and the community of East Camden (formerly Billkitts Rental Housing). International Paper conducts forestry operations on approximately 40,000 acres. The majority of the remaining acreage is currently an industrial complex known as Highland Industrial Park. Occupants of the industrial park with ordnance related functions include: Lockheed-Martin, Loral Vaught Systems, Atlantic Research Corporation, BEI Defense Systems Company, Tracor Aerospace, Hughes Missile Systems, National Testing Service, Olin Industries, Camden Ordnance, Hitech Incorporated, and Austin Power.

Since beginning production in the early 1980s Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control Camden Operations has produced more than 650,000 rockets and over 1,100 MLRS launchers. The current Camden facility performs final assembly, test and storage of missiles including the MLRS Extended-Range (ER) Rocket, the Reduced-Range Practice Rocket (RRPR) and the Guided MLRS Rocket. The plant produces MLRS launchers for the U.S. Army, Army National Guard and several allied armies, and produces HIMARS launchers for the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps, which designates HIMARS as the Marine Expeditionary Rocket System (MERS). The new facility will include world-class automated production and assembly equipment and be located near the existing Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) production plant.0


Shumaker Naval Ammunition Depot, located east of Camden, Arkansas, consisted of 68,417.82 acres and was utilized as a manufacturing, testing, storage, and distribution center of Naval ordnance.

The Shumaker Naval Ammunition Depot was developed during the height of the Second World War. It was the only Naval Ammunition Depot to work exclusively on the loading, assembly and storage of ordnance rockets. Some of the features which led to the selection of the Arkansas site are as follows: an existing airport (formerly an Army training base), natural gas line, a high tension power line, three railroads (Southern Pacific, Rock Island Express, and St. Louis Southwestern), U.S. and State Highways (Arkansas 4, Arkansas 7, U.S. 79), the Ouachita River, topography, soil and gravel pits. Before 1944, the area was strictly rural and used for farming purposes. During construction, the emphasis was on speed since the rockets to be produced at Shumaker were deemed essential to the successful conclusion of World War II. Construction began on 1 January 1945 and ended 30 June of that same year.

The Navy Department awarded the operational contract to National Fireworks Incorporated of West Hanover, MA. The first rockets were produced at Shumaker on 25 April, 1945. On 5 November 1945, with its production activity at a reduced level in keeping with peace time requirements, the contract with National Fireworks was ended. By 1949, Shumaker was operating solely on a maintenance status. On 25 May 1951, in response to the Korean Crises, the National Fireworks Corporation was tasked once again by the Navy to assume operation of the ordnance depot. Many magazines were added (bringing the total to over 700) to continue production for the next 2 years. On 30 June 1957, all contracts with National Fireworks Incorporated were finally completed, and the Navy again resumed operation of the depot. The facility was declared excess by the GSA in 1960 and was subsequently conveyed by the GSA to various individuals in 1960 and 1961.

At the time of the Navy's departure there were only two bidders, International Paper (I.P.) and Highland Resources (Brown's Engineering was the parent company). I.P. purchased roughly 40,000 acres, while Highland acquired 25,000 acres. Highland's area included the old headquarters compound, production facilities, and hundreds of warehouses and underground bunkers where ammunition and explosives had been stored. Brown's Engineering's original intent was to scrap out the tons of railroad track and structural steel. However, they actually transformed the area into an industrial park. Highland did sell 10,000 acres of timber land, 5,000 each to the Weiner and Kurth families. The Kurths sold theirs to the Georgia-Pacific railroad while the Weiners still own their parcel.