Bethlehem Loading Company
Need For Arms
In April of 1917, the United States declared war on Germany.  Normal peacetime
items such as food and  clothing were already being produced in this country, only
an increased incentive was necessary to meet wartime demands.  But new factories
for modern munitions production were needed, and four new plants came into
existence: The Atlantic Loading Company (Amotol), Bethlehem Loading Company,
DuPont Engineering Company, and the T.A. Gillespie Loading Company.

          
Bethlehem Loading Company The New Plant
The construction of the plant was started on April 3, 1918.  By July 1st, the first
155mm shells were loaded, and by November of the same year, 56,000 155mm  
shells were loaded and delivered to the war effort.  The 8 inch shell plants was
started up and the 75mm shell plant was 70% complete.  The modern plant had 24
miles of track along with administration buildings, cafeterias, change houses, police
buildings, and military barracks to house 1,100 soldiers to guard the plant.

Rail System
The Railroad had to be built soon after groundbreaking in March of 1918 to bring in
necessary construction materials.  This was followed by a town called Belcoville to
house the thousands of employees.  The name Belcoville was short for Bethlehem
Loading Company.  By August, a complete town to house 400 families and 3,000
single people was completed, along with a town hall, school, bank, bowling ally, and
all types of stores.

Company Village
The organization and implementation of the Bethlehem plant's construction was an
example of the engineering skills, patriotic spirit and the abilities of the American
workforce.  The area selected was a tract of land stretching from below Mays
Landing to Petersburg, consisting mostly of swampy land, totaling approximatly
10,000 acres.


The End
The armistice ending World War 1 was signed on November 11, 1918, and the
loading facility continued production into 1919.  The end of production was
signified by the removal of all usable steel and iron, such as the railroad tracks, and
buildings, for use during World War 2.  The concrete foundations and the rail beds
are all that remain as a silent reminder of American patriotic response to a world
crisis.
The Atlantic County Park in Estell Manor contains most of the plant, and
administration buildings, ruins of which still remain.  Enjoy the park and its ruins,
but please do not remove any artifacts.

Above information and black and white photos can be found at:
www.aclink.org
Atlantic County