In 1955, 50,000 acres of state forest land was sold to Curtiss-Wright Corporation which developed nuclear jet engines and conducted research in nucleonics, metallurgy, electronics, chemicals and plastics.
Curtiss-Wright Corporation ceased its activities at Quehanna in 1960 and donated the facility to the Pennsylvania State University which used the facility to conduct research.
In the early- to mid-1960s, Penn State leased the hot cell facility to Martin Marietta. They were contracted by the Atomic Energy Commission (now U.S. Department of Energy [DOE]) to produce SNAP (Space Nuclear Auxiliary Power) electrical generators using large quantities of strontium-90.
Front view of the Quehanna hot cells. Specially made thick leaded windows allowed scientists to work with nuclear materials to create generators that were used to power ocean buoys and remote weather stations.
The land was returned to the state in 1966 and now is managed by the Quehanna Wild Area in the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR)'s Moshannon and Elk Forest districts. Several buildings from the former industrial operations were occupied by PermaGrain, a manufacturer of specialty wood and tile flooring. PermaGrain filed for bankruptcy in December 2002 and was acquired by Nydree Flooring in 2003.
A more detailed history of the Quehanna site may be found on the Bureau's Pennsylvania Decommissioning Site Summaries webpage.