The Seneca Ordnance Depot was one of 4 US military munition storage facilities constructed just prior to US involvement in the second World War. In 1940, the (Franklin) Roosevelt administration was preparing for full American involvement in WWII and established 4 new military supply bases that would provide munitions to defend the country's Atlantic coast in the North East and South East and our Pacific coast in the North West and South West areas of the US. The Seneca Ordnance Depot, later renamed the Seneca Army Depot, was the US Military's primary Munitions Supply Base for the Northeastern United States for more than 50 years.
From December, 1941 through the end of the cold war in the early 1990's, the Seneca Army Depot would supply nearly all of the ammunition and military supplies that were sent across the Atlantic to support our troops in WWII, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam War, first Gulf War and every other overseas conflict prior to the announcement of the base closure in 1995. This meant everything from weapons and ammunition, bombs, missiles, grenades, jeeps, uniforms, equipment, etc., came from or through Seneca.
When the cold war ended in the early 1990's, the United States began to downsize their munitions stockpiles and consolidate the military's supplies into fewer Army Material Command facilities. In 1995, Seneca Army Depot was one of several such bases that found themselves on the US Military's Base Realignment and Closure (B.R.A.C.) List. The United States Army held their Inactivation Ceremony for the base at the Headquarters building on July 20, 2000, and on September 30, 2000, the Seneca Army Depot was officially closed.
By 2003, the Army had turned about 2/3 of the more than 10,000 acres of the former Depot over to the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency in hopes of finding suitable new owners of the property. The remaining property stayed under the jurisdiction of the government while it was remediated and tested for contaminants so it could also be turned over to the County IDA in the future.
Some of the property was repurposed as a County Law Enforcement Facility, or sold to build Five Points Maximum Security Prison, a facility for troubled youth known as Kid's Peace, a housing development, fiber optics & data storage company, and several others.
In 2016, the Seneca County IDA put approximately 7,500 acres up for public bid. Part of the bid criteria included a plan for the unique wildlife at the Depot; specifically, the all white, white-tail deer. Seneca Falls business owner Earl Martin prepared and submitted the winning bid. Upon winning the bid, Mr. Martin set aside approximately 3,000 acres as a wildlife preserve which he called Deer Haven Park.
Today, most of the fences remain around the former Depot. It has been more than 20 years since the official inactivation and closing of the Seneca Army Depot and nature has begun to reclaim much of the land. While most of the former Seneca Army Depot is now private property and closed to the public, Deer Haven Park offers you a glimpse into the past through our Bus Tours, Auto Tours, Private Tours and our Visitor Center. Stop by and learn about a time before the Army base, when family farms and homes occupied the land between the lakes. Hear and see some of the history behind this important and strategic military base and the critical role it played defending our homeland from WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam Conflict, Dessert Storm and the end of the Cold War. Learn about the mysteries surrounding the former Seneca Army Depot and take your chance at seeing the world-famous Seneca White Deer and other amazing wildlife within the 3000-acre preserve.
The Seneca Army Depot: Then & Now
A detailed documentary by Carl Aldinger of WETM-18 in Elmira
In April, 2023, an investigative reporting team from WETM-18 in Elmira, NY visited Deer Haven Park in search of the story of the Seneca Ordnance (Army) Depot, the families it dispossessed and the incredible white deer and wildlife it left behind. Digital Producer Carl Aldinger and Producer/Photographer Dan Northrup came to Deer Haven Park on two occasions to tour the grounds of the historic base, gather information and to see the majestic white, white-tail deer.
In their quest for answers, Carl and Dan interviewed survivors and descendants of the many families who were dispossessed by construction of the 1941 Depot Project, former employees including the Seneca Army Depot’s Public Affairs Officer during its most tumultuous times, Town and County Historians, Deer Haven Park employees, area residents and many others. This 37-minute documentary is the result of countless hours of investigation, video documentation and production combined into what is perhaps the most comprehensive single piece of digital information on the Seneca Army Depot: Then & Now.