Rocky Mountain Arsenal
Rocky Mountain Arsenal (1942-1992) - A U.S. Army chemical arsenal established in 1942 during World War II near present day Commerce City, Adams County, Colorado. Deactivated in 1992.
Rocky Mountain Arsenal History
The U.S. Army acquired 19,915 acres of land in 1942 for the Rocky Mountain Arsenal and began construction on 30 Jun 1942. The arsenal manufactured chemical weapons including mustard gas, Lewisite, and chlorine gas during World War II. Vast quantities of these weapons were manufactured to achieve parity with the German stockpiles so that neither side would use them. The arsenal also produced some 100,000 tons of incendiary munitions during the war.
The Army also established the Rose Hill POW Camp on the Arsenal. The camp operated between 6 Nov 1943 and 1 Apr 1946 confining some 300 German prisoners. The Stapleton Airport's north-south runway now covers that area.
The arsenal was deactivated after the war but was reactivated on 30 Oct 1950 for the Korean War and manufactured white phosphorus-filled munitions, artillery shells filled with distilled mustard, and incendiary cluster bombs. Production of the deadly GB nerve gas took place at a secret plant between 1953 and the 1960s.
Rocket fuel manufacture and rocket engine testing began in the 1960 and by the 1970s the disposal of the GB nerve gas stockpiles was under way. The destruction of the nerve agent was followed by a massive cleanup program of 31 hazardous waste and pollution sites that started in 1997 and continues.
Deactivated in 1992 and the cleanup was considered complete in 2010. The visitor center opened 21 May 2011.
Now a historical site and National Wildlife Refuge near Commerce City, Adams County, Colorado. Guided tours are available.