Gas Masks, Nela Park, and the Cleveland Mousetrap (REMOTE)

Michael Fricke
Chair, Akron Section of the American Chemical Society
Thursday November 04
7-8:30 p.m. ET
Men in gas masks

The United States declared war on Germany on April 2, 1917. Three weeks later, gas mask development moved to a suburb of Cleveland called Nela Park. A partnership formed between the U.S. Bureau of Mines, the National Lampworks Company and the National Carbon Company to develop prototype gas masks. Cleveland was chosen because there was more knowledge concerning charcoal chemistry than anywhere else in the country. Within a month, the Secretary of War had ordered one million masks to be designed and produced. The offensive side of Chemical Warfare Service soon followed into Cleveland as well. Harvard Chemistry Professor James Conant came to Willoughby to supervise construction of a 30-acre site tasked with producing the warfare agent Lewisite. This plant was nicknamed “The Cleveland Mousetrap” because of the secrecy –as in “What goes in never comes out.”

This lecture is part of the Cleveland Civics History Lecture Series

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