A young Congressman named Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ), who hailed from the Hill Country of Central Texas and had already established himself with President Franklin Roosevelt and House Speaker Sam Rayburn as an up-and-coming legislator, saw the opportunity to persuade the Army to build one of the new ammunition plants in an isolated, rural area adjacent to his wife Lady Bird’s home town of Karnack, Texas.LBJ moved quickly and so did the Army, which acquired 8,493 acres of land adjacent to Caddo Lake approximately four miles from the Louisiana-Texas border. In October of 1942 the Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant was established to produce trinitrotoluene (TNT).With the exception of a 7 year period when it was maintained on stand-by status, the Longhorn plant spent 55 years manufacturing a variety of munitions ranging from incendiary devices to rocket motors.At its peak, the facility included 451 buildings, operated its own power and water treatment plants, and was interlaced with rails for the movement of raw materials and finished product.Stand-by status ended in 1952 when the plant was reactivated and operated by Universal Match Corporation. During the Korean War, Longhorn expanded its mission to include loading, assembling, and packing rocket motors and pyrotechnic ammunition.The Thiokol Corporation, which operated a facility at Redstone Arsenal, received the contract to rehabilitate Longhorn’s World War II era liquid fuel facility into a solid fuel rocket motor plant. In 1955, Plant 3, which was operated by Thiokol Corporation (later Morton Thiokol, Inc.), was designated to produce solid propellant rocket motors.
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In 1993, portions of the area that are now the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge became the 13th site in the United States designated as "wetlands of international significance" under the Ramsar Convention.