I've previously documented here the origins of the California Powder Works near the coastal city of Santa Cruz. However, the ownership history of the Hercules plant also links it to the East Coast.
I'm talking, of course, about the du Pont family of Wilmington, Delaware. The du Pont's owned the Hercules plant from 1903-1912, when the Federal government ordered them to divest due to anti-trust laws. The National Trust for Historic Preservation (of which I am a member) recently featured a travel piece in its "Preservation" magazine (Sept/Oct 2011) about Wilmington, which briefly mentions the original powder plant there.
Eleutherian Mills, named after Eleuthere Irenee du Pont, began operations in 1802. It closed in 1921, and is now known as Hagley Museum. The museum features a mill, working machine shop, houses, and a school. E.I. du Pont built a mansion there in 1803. Nearly destroyed by an 1890 explosion (sound familiar?), it has since been restored.
The du Ponts are everywhere in Wilmington, and the article goes into detail about several restored family mansions turned museums, and the Hotel du Pont downtown, part of their headquarters building. The public library was built on land given to the town by the du Ponts. It goes on and on.
Check out the article for more information and a lot of great links.
It's holiday season, and you know what that means. Another shameless plug for the Hercules history book. This would make a wonderful gift for any history buff, far-flung relatives, or even locals who have no idea there was anything in this town before the Creekside Center was built.