Look Around MS --WWII - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

08/15/06

Look Around MS --WWII

By Walt Grayson
walt@wlbt.net

The first inclination when we think of war and Mississippi is to think of the Civil War. But we have some souvenirs of the second World War dotting the landscape just outside of Flora. 60 year-old reminders that a war fought half way around the world can have an impact right in your own back yard.

They are concrete shapes that stretch skyward. Empty now. There are several of these old buildings near Flora. They were built to last. And they have, even after being relived of their metal roofs and steal beams and copper fittings around the metal doors. They still stand. And they will undoubtedly continue to do so for a long, long time. What were these formidable buildings used for?

"This is the old Mississippi Ordinance Plant that was built in 1941. I think it closed down in 1945. It was built for manufacturing and bagging gun powder during World War Two."  Charles Bowering there is an amateur historian. And remembers the plant first hand, or at least remembers the personnel who were stationed here.

"They would march by the house in columns of twos all day long. And then they would march back in, in a couple of days."

There was once a whole military installation here. And now all that's left of it are the old gutted factory buildings where the powder was made. And a few more things. Rounded mounds of earth with concrete ends rise out of the country side near by. These things, too were a part of the powder manufacturing process.

"Those are underground bunkers that they stored the powder in. That's what they were built to do."

And after the war the bunkers, like the old factory buildings, were left in place. Many sit just as they sat. But many have been modified. Now, they are used for all sorts of things.

John Lenoir with the Kerny Park Farms says probably the most ambitious conversion is this one. "In case of the bunker behind me for a lodge and a conference center. Several others have been converted to a hatchery, a shop, a storage area for building materials and supplies. Across the road Southern Vital Records has them for record storage facilities."

And it all sits here so peaceful and quiet nowadays. In some ways picturesque, tucked into the hillsides or framed with clouds both above and below like this one surrounded by a fish pond. Enjoying the peace it helped purchase a half century ago.

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