Austin Hall 1938

Trona in 1948

The following is from a brochure published by the American Potash & Chemical Corporation in 1948. I think it provides an accurate but perhaps biased description of life in Trona during 1948 and matches my early memories of Trona very well.


Trona is one hundred and thirty miles north of San Bernardino in the northwestern corner of San Bernardino County. The district is one of the most picturesque in California.

Daily passenger service is maintained by the Los Angeles-Trona Stage Line, the two routes being through San Bernardino and through San Fernando, Mint Canyon, Palmdale, Lancaster, Mojave and Randsburg.

Motorists may drive to Trona over good highways, either by way of San Fernando or San Bernardino. From Los Angeles the route is highway 99 through Glendale, Burbank and San Fernando to the junction of Highway 6 which is followed through Mint Canyon, Palmdale, Lancaster and to a point twenty-one miles north of Mojave, where the Trona road intersects Highway 6, The Trona road is followed through Randsburg, Johannesberg and Argus to Trona.

The route by San Bernardino is Highway 66 through Cajon Pass to the junction with Highway 395, on the latter through Adelanto, Kramer and Atolia to Johannesberg, thence on a well-marked road to Trona.



TRONA’S COMMUNITY life centers around Austin Hall a business block housing a modern food market, drug store, motion picture theater, postoffice, billiard parlor and other facilities. Stores are operated for the employees on a profit-rebating plan and shelf prices are on par with Los Angeles chain stores. Single men’s quarters, barber shop, department store, hospital and restaurant units as well as the majority of homes are located within walking distance of the business center of the community and the plant.

Trona Hospital provides complete medical, surgical optometrical and dental services. Two physicians, a dentist and a corps of nurses are included on the staff of the institution, which is maintained by the American Potash & Chemical Corporation. For its workers and their families, Facilities include fully equipped and well appointed operating, treatment and patients’ rooms, laboratories and offices Trough the provision of equipment normally found only in larger institutions, Trona hospital is prepared to handle any emergencies and serve all residents of the community. The hospital service in typical of the provision that is made for the Trona employees and their families.

Photo by unknown

TRONA RESTAURANT facilities are located in a large building opposite Austin Hall in the center of the village. They include a coffee shop, a patio restaurant, a cocktail room and family-style dinning room. General supervision is given the units by the American Potash & Chemical Corporation to assure workers of quality food, good service and reasonable prices, which are lower than those prevailing in other communities in the district. The patio restaurant is utilized for social gatherings. Lunches and soft drinks are served in the billiard parlor. The drug store has a complete soda fountain.

TRONA OFFERS all the opportunities for living to be found in a small town. Regular services and allied activities are conducted by Catholic, Community, Mormon, Four Square Gospel, Christian Science, and Lutheran churches, all of which have pastors resident in the community. The school, an attractive and modern structure has a faculty of twenty-five members and provides kindergarten, elementary and high school instruction, as well as adult education in night classes. Fraternal, patriotic, civic, athletic, educational and welfare organizations are active and afford opportunity for diversified social recreation. Trona affords the advantages of a city and the friendliness of a village.

Photo by unknown

THE TRONA CLUB, a commodious modern building, was erected in by the Company in 1937 to provide indoor recreation for it’s employees and their families. It has an auditorium for gathering and dancing, lounging rooms, a bar, bowling alleys, billiards and pool tables and other facilities for recreation and entertainment. A branch of the San Bernardino County Public Library is located in the building. The Club, like the stores of Trona is operated under the profit-rebating system.

Photo by unknown

TRONA HOUSING accommodations range from single quarters for unmarried persons to homes for employees with families. House rentals are at cost and lower than in other communities. Quarters for single persons rent at reasonable rates, have steam heat, electric lights, hot water and air conditioning. Rooms are completely furnished and receive daily service. Adequate housing is available for individuals but homes for families are limited and are assigned on a basis of earnings and seniority. During the past two years the Company has built 47 modern homes and sold them at cost to employees. Housing accommodations for employees is also available in nearby communities.

TRONA is a modern industrial village in the Mojave Desert, the home of the $25,000,000 plant of the American Potash & Chemical Corporation and the trading center for Searles Valley, which has a population of 2600 persons. Bordered by the Argus and Slate mountains, the valley basin, Searles Lake is a dry lake crystal body permeated with brine from which the Trona plant produces chemicals.

Photo by unknown

TRONA is a unique community a self-contained town operated on a cost basis by the Company for the benefit of its employees. It has all the advantages found in larger communities, including modern stores, public library, elementary and high school, theater, clubhouse, bowling alleys, billiard parlors, tennis courts, a golf coarse, baseball field and spacious swimming pool. Desert and mountains within driving distance afford good hunting and fishing.

TRONA PRODUCES chemicals in a modern plant that operates seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, year in and year out. In peace, the products go to all parts of the globe and in World Wars I and II, Trona made chemicals for victory. Products include potash, borax, boric acid, salt cake, soda ash, bromine and lithium salts.

TRONA’S CLIMATE is similar to that of California desert resorts that annually draw thousands of tourists. In summer the low humidity and cool night breezes prevailing at its relatively high elevation (1618 feet) temper the desert heat. Buildings and homes are equipped with desert air-cooling equipment. The highest temperature on record is 118 degrees F. The ten-year average low and high low temperatures in July and August – the hottest months – are 105 and 72 degrees F.

13 thoughts on “Trona in 1948

  1. Joe Weimer

    Would like to see photos of Trona, Argus, as well as pioneer point circa 1961 to about 1970. The housing maybe Hessmans store where we used to drag in Pepsi bottles and shop. I would really appreciate it

  2. Joe Weimer

    I was born in Trona in January 1961 and went to school till 2nd grade then we moved away but I still miss those days it seemed like every house we lived in was pink in Argus my kindergarten teacher name was miss Fanning. That was a life time ago. Sometimes I think about going back to see things and how they have changed. Trona people are most definitely a cut above the rest. Respect to all from Trona.

  3. Rodney Shaw

    I visited Trona and Argus this last September, 2016. My father worked as a truck driver for the U.S. Navy at Ridgecrest. We lived in Argus and I attended the Trona School for my third, fourth and fifth grade classes. I remember my teachers were Ms Shoaf and Miss Knipp. I had a wonderful time and enjoyed the desert very much. Argus had a nice grocery store ran by the Hessmans and Jack Means had a furniture store there, he used to play Ravell’s Bolero on the stores outside speaker. I enjoyed going to the movies in Trona and then hitchhiking (gasp!) home after the movie. Trona was a nice vibrant community and it was always a joy to go there.

    1. Pat Dunne

      I was in the class of 1960 at THS having attended school grades K-12 taking the bus from Westend every day. No one who had Miss Knipp for 5th grade will ever forget her; she was a fierce little lady. I think she and several other of the teachers in my era came over to teach in Trona after the Japanese internment camp in Manzanar was closed.

  4. Dean Boring

    I was born in Trona in 10 Aug 1948.
    I cannot read the doctors name on the birth certificate. Edward __________sky.
    Can you fill in the doctors name

  5. Robert Stone

    I’m looking for info on the Robert Stone girls that are my cousins. My name is Robert Stone the Son of James E. Stone.

  6. Tom Dunne

    I was conceived in Westend in 1930 and lived on Searles Lake there until going to college in 1948 after graduating from Trona High School. We were very well prepared for college. The four of us getting the highest grades at UCLA of any high school class there in 1952. Thank you Trona High School. I hope you have kept up the good work under what may be more difficult circumstances.
    Tom Dunne
    Classmates:: Carol Petersen, Neil Samuels, Austin Smith

  7. Margaret June

    I grew up in Trona and still visit. My mother, sister and relatives are buried in the Trona cemetery
    I have no living relatives there but we visit my mom. I know people I went to school with and visit
    one of them. Not a pretty site anymore. It was not an easy environment to grow up in but I do have some
    good memories
    Margaret June (Wells)

  8. Patricia Rumsey Downs

    I lived in Trona when I was a little girl. In the early 1940’s. I went to school there until I was in the 3rd. grade I remember my teachers name was Mrs Beerup She was a very good and sweet teacher. I have good memories of Trona I also swam in the pool there.Went back while visiting my daughter and was sad about how it is today It was so busy when I was a little girl.


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