One of Picatinny Arsenal’s old buildings, which sits beside tracks built before World War I that once carried many ammunition trains. (Photo by David Vergun, May 2015)
On Sept. 6, 1880, the War Department issued Special Order No. 189, which established the Dover Powder Depot. Four days later, the post was renamed the Picatinny Powder Depot. The Army’s first powder factory was constructed here in 1907. Later that year, because of its expanding activities, the post became Picatinny Arsenal. When World War II started, Picatinny Arsenal was the only plant in the United States capable of making ammunition larger than that for small arms. Today, Picatinny Arsenal serves as the headquarters for the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center and employs highly skilled technicians, scientists and engineers engaged in the full range of armament research and development.
Where did Picatinny get its name? Some of the earliest residents were the Lenni-Lenape Indians who named their hunting grounds “Picatinny.” Initially spelled “Piccatinny,” the word has been translated as the “peak with broken rocks and cliffs,” or “water by the hill.” Records indicate the name is a combination of Lenape and Pequot Indian languages. “Pikka” in Pequot literally means “rock rent asunder,” while “tinny” in Lenape represents landmark or hill.
For more information on the arsenal’s history, visit www.pica.army.mil/Picatinny/about/history.aspx.