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Look back at Atlantic County History

Look back at Atlantic County History

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A town does not need a hundred years to become a ghost town and disappear. It can vanish overnight. Belcoville is such a town. It flourished on war boom prosperity and very little else before returning to its place as a quiet South Jersey community.

Belcoville is a ghost of World War I. It was once a booming industrial site which sprang up around the munitions plant of the Bethlehem Loading Company.

When it was first started in 1917, it was designed for a community of 6,000 munition workers. Original plans for the site called for a proving ground for big guns and a range that would extend for 20 miles.

Although thousands worked on building the town and plant, actual production of shells was not started until October 1918. When the armistice was signed on Nov. 11, 1918, very little had been produced for the expenditure of millions of dollars. Work continued until Dec. 1, 1918 when 1,800 employees were fired.

Only half of the proposed factory had been completed. Actual shell loading completely stopped Jan. 21, 1919 and the complex closed officially on July 1 of that year.

The town and plant consisted of 206 buildings and 84 plant buildings. Many of the buildings were torn down immediately while the others were left to rot.

Today the area covered by and known as the Belcoville Triangle that lies between Great Egg Harbor River, South River and Hamilton Township.

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