Supporting the U.S. military
During World War I, Camillus shifted production to support the Allied forces. The company also manufactured marlinspikes, surgical scalpels, and a folding knife/spoon combination for the Red Cross in those years. During World War II, Camillus shipped more than 13 million knives of various styles to the Allied troops. In 1942, U.S. Marine Corps officers Colonel John M. Davis and Major Howard E. America working in conjunction with cutlery technicians at Camillus developed the KA-BAR Fighting Utility Knife. After extensive trials, the KA-BAR prototype was recommended for adoption, and Camillus was awarded the first contract to produce the KA-BAR for the Marine Corps Camillus made more KA-BARs than any other knife manufacturer producing the model during World War II. During the war, Camillus also made the M3 fighting knives, the M4 bayonets and many other utility knives for U.S. forces, including machetes, multi-blade utility knives, TL-29 Signal Corps pocket knives for signalmen, electrician's mates, and linesmen, and combination knife/marlinspike pocket knives for use by the U.S. Navy in cutting and splicing lines.
The Modern History of Camillus Cutlery
After going bankrupt in 2007, there were plans to demolish the factory to build medical offices and high-end apartments. Standing vacant for 7 years, the 119-year-old factory was covered in flammable chemicals and outdated construction that allowed for one of the worst fires in Onondaga county history. On February 11, 2013, the Camillus Cutlery building caught on fire from a welder preparing the building for demolition. The fire blazed for over 30 hours and it took more than 2 million gallons of water to put it out.
After the fire, the cutlery lay dormant for 5 years before being transformed into 29 loft apartments. The former administrative building for the cutlery also houses Freedom of Espresso, a small coffee shop on the first floor of the building.