1906 Arthur Douglas Chambers

Arthur Douglas Chambers (1872-1961) earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from Johns Hopkins University in 1896, then joined DuPont as a chemist in the dynamite plant at Ashburn, Miss. He served as superintendent of that facility from 1906 to 1908, then as superintendent of DuPont's Louviers dynamite plant in Colorado from 1908 to 1915. He then moved to the company's Development Department in Wilmington, where he helped DuPont make a momentous decision to enter the dye business.Show more



After a World War I British naval blockade curtailed imports of German-made dyes to the United States, DuPont diversified into dye manufacture. However, little was known about dye chemistry outside Germany, where chemical companies had acquired sophisticated knowledge and a substantial competitive advantage.

 

In 1915 Chambers prepared a report recommending that DuPont undertake the research necessary to match German expertise. In April 1916 he was part of an advance team DuPont sent to the Levinstein dye plant outside Manchester, England, which had replicated some German techniques. The next year DuPont appointed Chambers to head the dye plant it was constructing at Deepwater, N.J. The dye venture at Deepwater proved to be technically much more difficult, and expensive, than expected. However, the research experience acquired at Deepwater's Jackson Laboratory later facilitated the company's manufacture of tetraethyl lead gasoline additive and Freon® refrigerants. Chambers retired from DuPont in 1941. In 1944 the company's Deepwater plant was named Chambers Works in his honor.

 

DuPont's Louviers plant, located between Denver and Colorado Springs, was one of the oldest explosives operations in the country when it closed in the early 1980s. At an altitude of 5,680 feet, Louviers was also the highest dynamite plant in the United States. In 1906 DuPont purchased 1,800 acres for the new plant at Gann's Station, a small outpost on the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. Two years later the Louviers plant opened to serve the western mining, oil exploration and construction markets. Named after a village near the ancestral home of the du Pont family in France, the new facility included houses, stores, a school and a library for workers and their families. DuPont brought in a nucleus of experienced explosives workers from its Ashburn plant in Missouri to help ensure a safe start-up and appointed Arthur D. Chambers, a Ph.D. chemist and Johns Hopkins University graduate, as its first superintendent. Chambers oversaw Louviers operations for seven years before returning to Wilmington to help establish DuPont's new dyestuffs business.

 

DuPont soon found another market niche for Louviers in manufacturing large quantities of permissibles--explosives with salts added to reduce the intensity of flames in explosions, and therefore safer for use in underground mines. Louviers supplied permissibles to the coal mines of Colorado, Arizona and Utah and produced technologically sophisticated explosives for other customers for 70 years. In 1977 DuPont ceased domestic production of dynamite and switched to safer, "water gel" explosives like Tovex. In 1988 DuPont and DuPont Canada sold their explosives businesses to ETI Inc., a Canadian firm. Many former Louviers employees and their descendants remain in the DuPont-built homes that they purchased from the company in the 1960s. Louviers Village was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.