Polan, Sylvania Among Huntington Locations Where Rosies Labored

Updated 6 years ago by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
Polan, Sylvania Among Huntington Locations Where Rosies Labored

While riding back from a Rosie historical education event at Spring Valley High School, Nancy Sipple told Anne Montague that “her mother used to work on that hill.”

The women who had just spoken to Wayne County high school students about the sacrifices and contributions of working women during World War II found Commerce Park. During the war, women worked there at Polan Industries making all kinds of lenses.

Having already been approved by the legislature and governor, sometime in May the state office structure will become the first public building named for the heroic women --- the Rosie Riveter Building. Medal of Honor winner, Woody Williams, also sent a letter to the governor asking for the building to be named in honor of the women.

The West Huntington location was not the only location where Rosies worked. The Sylvania plant (now used by the Division of Motor Vehicles on Madison Avenue) had, according to Montague some form of joint operation with the Polan firm. 

Some of the work at that site still remains secretive as the workers had been drilled “loose lips sink ships.”

However, according to Jim Casto, the plant made radio tubes for the Navy during the war. It was guarded by members of the U.S. Navy. The plant is across the street from the former Naval Reserve Center.

One still unspecified use --- the rail spur at the rear of the plant. What was loaded onto the trains?

Reflecting back on the 40s and 50s, she recalled conversations with her father (a social security disability judge)  who was “fascinated by the amount of non-service connected  cancer found among workers at INCO. The plant was a location where many vets went to work after returning from fighting overseas.

At the time, though, the work at INCO was classified. The plant provided nickel components in the Manhattan project, including the “little boy” bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Later, the Reduction Pilot (Huntington Pilot) Plant would be built there under a lease to the Atomic Energy Commission (an atomic weapons employer) and predecessor to the Department of Energy where nickel carbonyl , uranium , plutonium and other radioactive minerals were process and reprocessed for barriers at gaseous diffusion plants and recycling of already contaminated materials from Portsmouth, Paducah and Oak Ridge.

The HPP would remain on site in “cold stand by” between 1962 and 1978, when the nation’s bomb storage quota had been reached. Late in 1978 and continuing into 1979, the plant would be disassembled by Cleveland Wrecking and contents taken under guard for burial in a secret landfill on the perimeter of the Portsmouth plant in Piketon, Ohio.  


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