Hagley Museum Shows Dark Side of DuPonts’ Powdermaking Business

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Silently sitting on the banks of the Brandywine River with a mill race (foreground) on the back side of the mills, the Eagle Roll mills at Hagley Museum in Wilmington, Delaware, were used in the manufacture of gunpowder from 1802 to 1920. The high stone walls face the millrace, while the walls were shorter and the roof on the river side was at an angle to direct the explosions towards the river, should there be a spark causing explosion. DuPont was the major supplier of gunpowder for Union troops during the Civil War.


In January of 1920, there was an explosion (there had been many explosions and deaths in the nineteenth century) of 50,000 pounds of gunpowder at the powderworks, and killing 5 men. Thereafter, the production of gunpowder at this site ceased.sulphur kegs


In 1952 family members donated 185 acres of land and the DuPont company established a $6,000,000 endowment for the Eleutherian Mill-Hagley Foundation for a museum of industrial history. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1966.

 Contact Carolyn Roland, Architectural Historian and Realtor in New Castle and Kent Counties in Delaware and Southern Chester County, Pennsylvania for your real estate needs. Serving the area for 25 years.

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Comments (2)

Jeff Jensen
The Federal Savings Bank/Lending in 50 states - Greenwich, CT

Gun powder has been a problem ever since the Chinese invented it.  I wonder what environmental tragedies accompanied the human ones through time.

Feb 07, 2012 10:05 AM
Carolyn Roland-Historic Homes For Sale In Delaware and S. Chester County PA
Patterson-Schwartz Real Estate - Wilmington, DE
Carolyn Roland, GRI, CRS

Well, I have heard a lot about the environmental problems caused by DuPont's "Better Living Through Chemistry," but not gunpowder specifically. It couldn't have been good for the River, that's for sure.

Feb 07, 2012 10:35 AM