“ARMY SUPPLY DEPOT. In April of 1944, the Army Service Forces established the Newark Holding Yard near Cooch’s Bridge, just south of Newark, a 605 acre area that served as an ammunition dump or storage yard for the New York Port of Debarkation. Here trains loaded with ammunition for the European front waited for admittance to the port of New York. The area duly fenced in, contained more than ten miles of railroad track, and had floodlight equipment, guardhouses, a watchtower and other items.”
From “Delaware’s Role in World War II” by Wm. Conner and Leon deValinger, Jr., Delaware State Archives 1955, page 70:
"In 1943 the U.S. Army established an ammunition depot on the 1047 acres they purchased, where the Pencader Plaza /Scottfield area now stands. Ammunition was stored in railroad boxcars dispersed throughout the depot. It was called the Newark Holding Area. The idea was that large quantities of ammunition could be quickly moved by rail to the Port of New York and then shipped to wherever needed. The depot was enclosed with a 12-foot high barbwire fence. German prisoners of war were incarcerated there and assigned various menial tasks. At harvest time the prisoners would be employed by local farmers. World War II ended before any large supply of munitions could be stored in the depot."
Editor's note: It is likely that Axis prisoners of War were employed as day laborers at the site, but they were more likely to have been billeted at Fort DuPont. See WWII POW Camps in Delaware.
Dave Myers, a retired master sergeant and a former Army railroader, who has been working on a book about US military railroads for over 30 years replied:
"Your article on 'Mystery rail depot near Route 4 Newark, DE' was enough of a challenge for me to stop packing for my big move next month and see if I had an answer. Several problems were obvious from the beginning.
1. Article says the Army built it and yet the aerial shot with the article is of a Navy-type 'barricade' (see attached drawing). Also take a look at NWS Earle, NJ, and Crane, IN, for the same type of barricades.
2. Wilmington, DE, is on the Delaware River. A likely place to load/unload warships before proceeding up river to Philadelphia, but the NSY had its own loading/unloading facility at Hog Island Naval Ammunition Depot. To my knowledge the Navy had no ship handling facilities in Wilmington.
3. Article says depot consisted of 1,047 acres. Much too small for a typical ammo storage or handling facility. (Would need minimum 3,000 acres.)
4. Article says 'ammo kept in rail cars' during stay(?). Also says, 'war ended before any large supply of munitions could be stored' there.
My conclusion is that this was a 'munitions' holding point set up by the local civilian railroads, designed by the Navy, perhaps built by the Corps of Engineers, and since it held POWs, it was probably owned by the government. Frankly, I never heard of such a thing, but it makes sense. I'm aware that around the U.S. the civilian railroads had established on their property about three dozen 'holding points' dedicated to holing military cargo until it could be safely put on board a ship. This kept port railyards unclogged."
Mr. Tim Moriarity former Army Railroader adds: Typically the security of such a site would require that commercial rail company pick up and drop off cars on an interchange track, usually located near the entrance, and an in-house rail crew would handle internal moves. It's possible that the commercial carrier did the switching
Here's the diagram Dave Myers drew showing the differences between Army and Navy designs for barricades.
A personal observation: Having been to both Naval Weapons Station Earle, NJ, and the Army's Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point (MOTSU), NC, on many occasions, the Army design in this attachment mirrors what I saw at Earle and the Navy "tree" design is what exists at MOTSU. - Tim Moriarity