Trail Marker

Haverford Heritage Trail
Site 4: Gunpowder Magazine (remains)

Directions from Previous Site: Continue to end of macadam footpath at Karakung Drive. Cyclists can turn left here on Karakung Drive, while walkers can cross the drive and use the off-road Karakung Trail through the field toward the creek bank. Where the trail crosses the drive again, look up and to the left into the woods. The remains of the stone building can be seen up along the Norristown High Speed rail line.
Physical Address: Karakung Drive, Havertown PA
GPS Coordinates: 39.98252, -75.28464
Parking: On Old Manoa Road
Ownership: Southeastern Penna. Transp. Auth.
Arcadia Book Page: 12


Description and History: The Nitre Hall Gunpowder Mills were built along Cobb's Creek early in the 1800s by Israel Whelen. A few years later he formed a partnership with William Rogers and they conducted the business jointly. Israel Whelen, Jr. took his father’s place until 1825, when Whelen died. The gunpowder complex was then operated by Rogers until 1840. According to the census taken in 1820, the Nitre Hall works employed 20 people. At its peak, this powderworks complex included a number of buildings, including 2 stamping mills, press house, dry house, barrel mill, the magazine, the powder master's house, and 10 tenement houses for workers. Barrels of finished gunpowder were stored in the Powder Magazine building, which had two thick oak doors, no windows, and ventilation areas in its stone walls. No nails were used in its construction (the floor was pegged to the supporting beams) to prevent potentially calamitous sparks. The Gunpowder Magazine building had one corner removed and rebuilt at an angle to make room for the Philadelphia and Western electric railway line which opened in 1907 to its original terminus in Strafford. The building is included in the Historic American Buildings Survey.

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