Construction of Alcoa Wenatchee Works began in May, 1951. The smelting plant, where alumina, or aluminum ore, is reduced to metal, was constructed as a direct result of a request from the Office of Defense Mobilization to increase the domestic production of aluminum in a defense oriented economy.
Responding to this government demand, Alcoa began developing the Wenatchee site and on June 26, 1952, produced the first metal. The Wenatchee Works was the first smelter to be built In the Pacific Northwest in the post World War 11 period and the first plant of this type built with private capital in the area since before the war.
Wenatchee Works is located eleven miles south of the city of Wenatchee, Chelan County, Washington, and one and one half miles above Rock Island Dam, the first dam built on the Columbia River. The entire site covers more than 2,700 acres, excluding some 1,700 acres of orchard land donated to Washington State University In 1972. The plant itself covers 100 acres adjacent to the Columbia River.
The original production of primary aluminum at Wenatchee was 85,000 tons per year. Two major expansions In the 1960s expanded the name plate total to more than 210,000 tons per year. The original number of employees in 1952 was around 500.