Construction of the West Virginia Ordnance Works (WVOW) began in March, 1942. From 1942 to 1945, the WVOW was operated by the Army for the production of the explosive trinitrotoluene (TNT). The TNT plant was a complete operating unit. Raw materials were shipped in and the TNT produced at the site was transported to other government loading plants for insertion into various munitions. TNT production began in October, 1942. The facility had a design capacity of 720,000 pounds of TNT per 24 hour period, and operated 7 days a week, 3 shifts per day.
TNT production was suspended at the facility in August, 1945, following the end of World War II. The property was transferred from the War Department to War Assets Administration in late 1946 and declared surplus. The facilities were salvaged or disposed after this time.
Since May 1981, several environmental studies have been performed at the WVOW site by West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), US Army Toxic and Hazardous Materials Agency, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and others. The purpose of these studies was to determine the nature and extent of contaminants present due to TNT manufacturing activities. Contaminants listed in those reports included nitro-aromatic residues including TNT, DNT (dinitrotoluene), spent acids, metals, and other waste products associated with the TNT manufacturing process. The site was placed on the National Priority List in 1983.