homepage logo

Muncy Historical Society to host Alvira presentation

By Staff | Apr 10, 2012

Paul Metzger, president of the Muncy Historical Society, will be giving a presentation with Stephen Huddy about the history of Alvira which was destroyed in order to build the Pennsylvania Ordnance Works.  

MUNCY — Stephen C, Huddy and Paul C. Metzger will present “Alvira and the Ordnance: An American Dream Denied” at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 15 at the Muncy Historical Society, 40 N. Main St., Muncy.

Nestled in the White Deer Valley, 7 miles south of Williamsport, the village of Alvira once resembled a Norman Rockwell-version of rural American life: a proud main street, tidy wood-framed houses, spanking white picket fences, one-room school houses, five devoted churches and a close-knit, supportive citizenry whose values were rock-solid and deeply patriotic.

Almost exclusively agricultural in nature, Alvira provided for its own needs, and the extended needs of the White Deer Valley surrounding the village. It was the ideal place to raise generations of family to whom rich farmland, an All-American work ethic, and unfailing love of country could be handed down.

That grand American dream ended abruptly in the early Spring of 1942, when, within weeks of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the War Department seized (mostly by eminent domain), and then destroyed the village of Alvira and its surrounding communities in order to build the Pennsylvania Ordnance Works.

The facility, a massive TNT production plant, covered 8,500 acres of prime farmland and uprooted hundreds of homesteads in both Lycoming and Union Counties. For all of its importance to the war effort, the plant and its TNT production lines operated only 11 months before abruptly closing.

The genealogy of Alvira’s residents and what happened to their village and the Pennsylvania Ordnance Works are the focus of the multimedia presentation.

Huddy and Metzger will offer results of their research, interviews, mapping and exploration of the village and the ordnance works, with images of both enterprises during their heydays, and following their demises. The program offers an interesting look at a vital (and until now) relatively unknown piece of local history, and provides an insight into the massive power and influence of government in times of war. It is a cautionary tale of the American dream, denied.

A retired Williamsport Area School District administrator, Huddy spent many months researching and photographing village and ordnance remains locally, and through the resources of the National Archives.

Metzger is president of the Muncy Historical Society, membership chairperson of the Sons of the American Revolution, and an expert on the genealogies of White Deer Valley residents and their properties.

The society’s regular meetings are free and open to the public. Museum tours begin at 1:30 p.m. on meeting days and light refreshments are served immediately following the program in the colonial kitchen.