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History of LOOW featured in 'Lewiston Then & Now'

by jmaloni
Sat, Jun 26th 2010 01:00 pm

Historian Suzanne Simon Dietz and photographer Amy Lynn Freiermuth have combined their talents to create "Lewiston Then & Now," published by Arcadia. A book signing will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday, June 28, at the Orange Cat Coffee Co., 703 Center St., in the Village of Lewiston.

An interesting look at the area's history, one chapter of the new work deals with the Lake Ontario Ordinance Works saga, of which Dietz offers the following:

"The Order for immediate possession of a new government arsenal site was filed in the United States Western District Court on Feb. 9, 1942, as the result of a Petition by the United States of America against ‘Certain tracts of land in Town of Porter and Lewiston, Niagara County, New York, and Reuben A. B. Widmer, Elmer G. Clark, Mary A. Walsh, Harriet Wagner, Mary Diez Lloyd, Albert L. Baker, Duane Moss, Della Robertson, William Marsh, et al. Defendants.'

"The government argued that an Order was necessary to take immediate possession of lands in the towns of Lewiston and Porter in the interest of national defense for the construction of the plant. One hundred sixty-seven parcels were covered under the Order, which demanded dates for each parcel's possession to be delivered to the United States, from Feb. 10 through March 10, 1942. Some farm families who had lived and worked for generations on the same property were forced to move with as little as a few days notice in some cases.

"The initial government plan for this enormous federal munitions project was to utilize about 10,000 acres of the farmlands in the two towns and employment of 1,200 men on the job within three weeks and 10,000 within three months.

The Army Corps of Engineers established construction headquarters in the Tugwell and Wiseman canning factory in Model City. Rumors swept through the communities exciting local merchants and town officials at the prospect of increased business, but farmers held mixed opinions.

The location of the site was controversial. The government quickly scheduled a hearing on Jan. 6, 1942, at the Lewiston Presbyterian Church to record objections. J. Boardman Scovell, attorney, unsuccessfully argued on behalf of about thirty property owners."

Area residents are invited to meet with both Dietz and Freiermuth at Monday's book signing.

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