California Powder Works Poster

Currency:USD Category:Collectibles / Mining Start Price:6,000.00 USD Estimated At:12,000.00 - 18,000.00 USD
California Powder Works Poster
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24 x 30" oak framed chromo-litho poster, c1885 for the California Powder Works. Minor fold in top quarter, not visible from six feet. The thin black mat is perhaps cut outside the original intended boundary for such. Beautiful soft pastel colors, excellent condition. These generally hung in saloons and mine offices.

California Powder Works was the first American explosive powder manufacturing company west of the Rocky Mountains. When the outbreak of the Civil War cut off supplies of gunpowder to California's mining and road-building industries, a local manufacturer was needed. Originally located near Santa Cruz, California, the company was incorporated in 1861 and began manufacturing gunpowder in May 1864. For 50 years, it was a major employer in the county, employing between 150 and 275 men. The powder works was located on a flat adjacent to the San Lorenzo River, three miles upstream of Santa Cruz.

End of Santa Cruz operations
Explosive powder manufacturing was an extremely dangerous endeavor at the time, and uncontrolled explosions were frequent. The great explosion of 1898 started in the smokeless powder plant at 5:15 PM on April 26. Santa Cruz was rocked by a series of heavy explosions which killed 13 men at the powder works and injured 25 more. Windows were broken in Santa Cruz, and flaming debris fell on Mission Hill. Many buildings used to house company employees were set afire and a community effort was required by residents of Santa Cruz to prevent fires from reaching powder magazines closer to the city. The explosion caused apprehension among Santa Cruz residents about the safety of operating the powder works so close to the city. Santa Cruz County closed the powder works school and required powder works employee housing facilities to be vacated.

California Powder Works became a DuPont subsidiary in 1903, and operated under the DuPont name after 1906. Powder works wharf demolition begun in 1883 was completed before construction of the Neptune Casino at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in 1904. DuPont control of explosives manufacturing in the United States caused federal anti-trust action in 1912 requiring DuPont to distribute assets into three firms. Manufacture of blasting explosives was assigned to Atlas Powder Company. California Powder Works double-base smokeless powder patents were assigned to Hercules Powder Company's consolidated smokeless powder manufacturing facility at Kenvil, New Jersey. DuPont retained manufacture of black powder and single base smokeless powders including the powder being manufactured for the United States Navy. When the Panama Canal simplified transport to the Pacific Fleet, DuPont consolidated production facilities in New Jersey and terminated operations at Santa Cruz in 1914. Powder mill facilities were dismantled, and the property was sold in 1924. The two mansions occupied by powder works superintendents were abandoned and razed in the 1930s. (wikipedia)