Hawthorne is a small town in Central Nevada that owes its existence and survival to its proximity to the Army Deport, which is the largest in the World
The Naval Ammunition Depot Hawthorne was established in September 1930. It was redesignated Hawthorne Army Ammunition Plant in 1977 when it transferred to Army control as part of the Single Manager for Conventional Ammunition. In 1994, it ended its production mission and became Hawthorne Army Depot. The depot covers 147,000 acres (59,000 ha) or 226 sq. mi. and has 600,000 square feet (56,000 m2) storage space in 2,427 bunkers. HWAD is the “World’s Largest Depot”. Hawthorne Army Depot stores reserve ammunition to be used after the first 30 days of a major conflict. As such, it is only partially staffed during peacetime, but provision has been made to rapidly expand staffing as necessary. The depot is run by an independent contractor under an agreement with the government.
It is impossible to miss the Depot which is enormous. I did find it a little weird that there is a big sign saying it is the World’s largest Army Depot. Why would you draw attention to this? Who needs spies you can simply drive around and keep a lookout for the road signs.
Close by the Army Depot is the small town of Hawthorne, population 2700, whose economy is entirely dependent on the base, although like any self-respecting town in Nevada it does have a casino. Which is about it!
We had not gone to Hawthorne as a destination, we were just passing through on our way from Reno to Las Vegas, but a display of military hardware outside a storefront on the high street caught my eye. This turned out to be the Hawthorne Ordnance Museum.
Hawthorne Ordnance Museum
It was the outside exhibits of Hawthorne Ordnance Museum I initially got excited by, which included a range of bombs, torpedos and artillery shells as we all as some nifty looking artillery pieces and an M47 Patton Armor Tank. Sadly, we arrived on a Sunday which is the only day the museum is closed. Nevertheless, this was an opportunistic discovery so we were not too disappointed, especially as we found a great little coffee stand just across the way.
I wouldn’t suggest making a trip just to visit the Ordnance Museum but if you’re passing it is a nice place to take a pit-stop.