York Corporation played role in Manhattan Project
York Corporation, later York International and Johnson Controls, made essential machinery for the production of plutonium as part of the Manhattan Project.
So reports longtime Dallastown resident Charlie Raab, who worked as a metallurgist for York Corporation during World War II. The Manhattan Project produced the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945… .
Charlie saw my interview on PCN Sunday night in which I covered some of York Corporation’s sprawling contributions to World War II.
My WWII book “In the Thick of the Fight” details the involvement of several York companies in the Manhattan Project. (See excerpt below).
But the details were sketchy at the time because of government censorship.
Charlie filled in some of those holes. York Corporation made stainless-steel heat exchangers for the Hanford, Wash., plutonium project. He worked directly on the units as part of the company’s Methods Department. The plutonium production process heated water, and the York Corporation exchangers used water from the Columbia River as a coolant.
York Corporation, via William S. Shipley, was a prime proponent nationally of the York Plan, a coordinated system for sharing inventories of skilled workers and machinery to secure massive government contracts.
The following from “In the Thick” might interest you:
Soon after the atomic bombs devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, York County residents learned about the involvement of five local companies in the Manhattan Project.
Companies involved represented a who’s who of county industry: York Corporation (Yorkco), Read Machinery Co., York Safe & Lock Co., New York Wire Cloth Co. and S. Morgan Smith Co.
Yorkco workers later learned that they had fulfilled a $1.5 million refrigeration contract. The contract was listed under “Manhattan Engineering District,‿ a deceptive name that shrouded the eventual use of the refrigeration equipment.
One of Yorkco’s pre-war engineers served as a member of a special engineering detachment in Oak Ridge, Tenn. William H. Shank assisted in research work on Uranium 235’s separating processes.
In one of the local plants working on the Manhattan Project, FBI agents were regularly on duty.
Each evening, they locked blueprints in a vault.
Employees were sworn to secrecy, although they did not know exactly what they were working on. Even manufacturers, often subcontractors for Delaware’s duPont Co., lacked a clear understanding.
Japan had not yet surrendered, and the War Department clamped down on the specific part county industries played in the project.
Stories from defense plants elsewhere had already revealed too much about work that went on ther
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