Black Hills Ordnance Depot

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The Black Hills Ordnance Depot (BHOD) was a munitions storage and maintenance facility formerly operated by the Ordnance Corps of the United States Army. The depot was located in Fall River County, in far southwestern South Dakota about eight miles south of the town of Edgemont.[1]

BHOD was established and constructed in 1942, to help meet the Army's increased ordnance handling needs caused by World War II. Because of the relative remoteness of the location, nearly all of the facility's civilian workforce lived in federally owned housing at the depot; this residential community was known as Igloo,[2] a name derived because the characteristic shape of the munitions storage buildings constructed at the site has a similar appearance to igloos. The Igloo community included public schools, a hospital, post office, church, and shopping and entertainment facilities including a theater, swimming pool and a recreation center.

Among Igloo's residents was a young Tom Brokaw, who spent a few years living on the base as a boy.[3]

A munitions storage building, or "igloo", located at Black Hills Ordnance Depot.

The level of employment at BHOD varied over the years, increasing during periods of war. During typical peacetime periods of the 1950s, between 650 and 750 workers were employed at the site, and the community population was around 1800 people.[2]

BHOD was renamed "Black Hills Army Depot" (BHAD) in 1962.[1]

Over the years, BHOD was used for storage and testing of chemical weapons, including sarin[4] and mustard gas.[5] Additionally, during World War II, the site also held Italian prisoners of war.[3]

The Depot was closed on June 30, 1967, and the Igloo community was abandoned.[1] Once the Depot was closed, most of the residential housing units were moved to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.[6] A large number of former Depot buildings remained at the site in 2007.

Recently a developer has made many ordnance igloos into "doomsday survival" structures.[7]


  1. ^ a b c "Federal Facilities". South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Guide to the Fall River County Historical Society Papers at the Leland D. Case Library of Western Historical Studies". Archived from the original on 1 April 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Tom Brokaw (2001). The Greatest Generation. Random House, Inc. p. xxiv-xxv. ISBN 0-8129-7529-4. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  4. ^ "Intelligence Update: Chemical Warfare Agent Issues". CIA. Retrieved 2011-03-14. 
  5. ^ "Kansas Department of Health and Environment Bureau of Environmental Remediation Identified Sites List Information". Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Retrieved 2011-03-14. 
  6. ^ Nieves, Evelyn (2006-12-28). "One Determined Heroine and Her Fall From Grace". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-03-14. 
  7. ^ Tupper, Seth (July 1, 2018). "SD survival complex now has 'showroom bunker'". Rapid City Journal. 

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Coordinates: 43°10′N 103°56′W / 43.167°N 103.933°W / 43.167; -103.933