One of the great things about working in the Collections Department at the Nebraska History Museum is getting to work with the new materials coming into the museum. One of our recent acquisitions is an issue of The Powder Keg, a publication from the U.S. Naval Ammunitions Depot in Hastings. The NAD, as it was locally known, occupied about 49,000 acres in Adams and Clay Counties, and was the largest of the Navy’s World War II inland munitions depots. At one point during the World War II it produced almost forty percent of the Navy’s ordnance, including sixteen-inch shells, and employed 10,000 military and civilians.
This December 22, 1944, issue of The Powder Keg covers a variety of subjects ranging from Christmas parties and sporting events to an article about Nebraska native Dr. W. R. Peck, who was stationed at Hastings.
Another interesting article is about the “Wad Room” where cardboard was cut down for use in ammunition shells. The Wad Room crew was lead by 24-year-old Barbara Parker, who was assisted by Fern Schumann, Laura Demmer, Bessie Woods (from Hastings), Charleen Isaacs (from Oklahoma), and Wilma Simmons. Machinists Don Hunt and Ralph Zeigler also worked in the Wad Room. The crew made 15,000 to 20,000 wad spacers per day.
To learn more about the NAD see Beverly Russell’s 1995 article from Nebraska History titled “World War II Boomtown: Hastings & the Naval Ammunition Depot”
Laura Mooney, Museum Registrar