THE ROOM THAT DOESN’T EXIST
Researchers who went to the Remington Arms Company facility in Ilion, New York prior to 1991 were given the official statement: “There are no Remington production records!” Visitors who pilgrimaged to Ilion were stopped at the museum director’s office and politely told that their quest was over… “as no records exist.”
What the researchers didn’t know was that the museum director was simply following orders from the top from duPont management – that didn’t want Remington workers “bothered” by researchers and student of firearms. DuPont’s philosophy was that
“history doesn’t sell present-day guns.”
The ice would thaw in early 1991, when researchers Slim Kohler, Roy Marcot and Jay Lewis went to Ilion to
study the Remington Museum’s pistols and rolling block rifles. On the fourth day of a week-long research trip, their devotion to things Remington impressed two Remington employees – Ken Green and Jack Heath – who did the unthinkable: they opened Pandora’s Box! The three researchers were told that they would be shown “the Remington records”, but if they divulged this secret to anyone, the door would be shut forever!As far as Slim, Roy and Jay were concerned,
“This was the room that didn’t exist!”
Researchers Jay Lewis, Roy Marcot and Slim Kohler smile,
because they were just shown the Remington records for the first time.
On that fateful day, the three wide-eyed researchers were taken to the top floor of a triple-locked area that was off-limits to all but a handful of Remington employees. What was revealed was a locked L-shaped room that contained decades old Remington production records, drawings, photographs and ledgers. Some were neatly stored in cabinets and drawers, but others were strewn about in no order what-so-ever. The trio were allowed only one hour in “the sacred place”, and then were ushered out… and warned again about keeping the secret.
Jay Lewis, Jack Heath and Chuck Decanic
looking over the early Remington records.
What Remington didn’t want was an unslought of looky-loo’s and tire-kickers clammering to see the records. Remington employees had neither the time, nor the inclination to cater to such unprofessional antics. So Roy Marcot put together a plan – to propose to Remington that a small number of serious researchers be allowed to return to Ilion to work on the materials – including preserving, categorizing, sorting and protecting Remington’s precious history.
The plant manager, John Winskie, himself a history buff, was persuaded to give Roy’s plan a try… as long as the team didn’t divulge Remington’s secret. And thus, the RSA Research Team was formed with the following initial members:
Roy Marcot – Authority on Remington Rolling Block Firearms)
Slim Kohler – Expert on E. Remington and Sons’ Pistols and Revolvers
Jack Heath – Remington Arms Company Historian
Leon Wier, Jr. – Authority on E. Remington and Sons’ Pistols and Revolvers
Jay Huber – Expert on nearly all arms of E. Remington & Sons
Jane Spellman – Director of the Herkimer County Historical Society
This team returned to Ilion in late 1991, to begin the difficult task.