The photos below were sent to me by Jeannette (Kolstad) Kaufman. She was born in Trona in 1924. I really appreciate the effort she made to get them scanned and then sending them to me. There is another picture of this wreck at http://www.trona-ca.com/3200-2/trona-101-wreck-on-the-trona-railway/
I have meet a lot of lawyers who work on social and economic justice issues but have never met one quite like Paul Henry Abram. I look forward to his visit to Fresno on Friday, when he will appear in a benefit for listener sponsored radio station KFCF (see details below). Abram has written an extraordinary account of his experience representing the union members in ILWU local 35 who were on strike in Trona Ca in 1970. Most lawyers are more cautious (some would say conservative) than the activists they represent, but Abram gains the trust of the workers by being as militant as they are and willing to share the risks needed to win.
In the first couple of days after Abram arrives in Trona, he describes scenes that are neither conservative or nonviolent. The subtitle of the book is “A Revolution in Microcosm.” The strike against the Kerr-McGee plant in the Mohave Desert saw the workers and their legal counsel cutting electrical power to the plant, dynamiting communications systems, and “kidnapping” scab employees. I kept thinking, as I read these accounts, that it is good the statute of limitations has expired on these remarkable actions. The kidnapping charges, which Abram claims were all a big misunderstanding, were resolved in court – you will have to read the book to see what the judge and jury decided. To read the complete review go to: Trona, Bloody Trona A book review by Mike Rhodes
The brine from which potash was extracted in 1917 was in the middle of the lake four miles from the plant. The pumping station made of concrete and steel weighed 300 tons rested on the surface of the lake and demonstrates the resistance of the crust to pressure. There were three pumps installed capable of 500 GPM. The brine was drawn from 10 wells.
One of the gravest problems for the engineers was conducting the lukewarm brine from the pumping station four miles across the lake to the plant and to be able to maintain the brine at the same temperature. to prevent crystallization. To accomplish the the ten inch pipe was wrapped in hair and wool felt. This was encased in a steel jacket. This provided a thermal tube that delivered the brine without loss of a degree of temperature. The brine was delivered to two tanks, each with the capacity of 500,000 gallons. From the tanks the brine was pumped to the evaporation house and from there to the crystallization house where the potash was precipitated , dried and made ready for shipment.
Remember when the Trona High School basketball games were held downtown across from Austin Hall? Well, I suppose that most of you won’t. I don’t remember this particular game. I don’t remember much of what happened when I was two.
I do remember seeing at least one game being played there. I was probably a free spectator looking through the trees and fence. I think the girls who sold tickets would also let us in for free during the fourth quarter. I cannot imagine my mother giving me money to pay for a ticket to watch basketball. The courts were concrete rather than wood. They were also used as tennis courts and were used for the weekly roller skating and movie event before courts were torn down and replaced by the one on Argus Ave. Later skating was moved to the tennis courts at the high school. Skating was also held at the clubhouse on the ballroom floor for a few years. Metal skates were not allowed there, only wooden wheels. My sister was the only one in the family that right kind of shoes for the clubhouse. I never did learn to skate.
The one event that sticks out in my mind the most though is a fundraiser auction that one of the organizations conducted after one of the games. My mother kind of set me up. She decided I should do the bidding on one of the items so see sent me up front but since I had no idea what I was doing I kept running back to ask her what I should bid next. I lost the bid during one of the times that I was running back for instructions. Then I got the blame for not winning the item. Mom, what were thinking? I was probably only six or seven at the time.
Oh, yea and there was the dog fight that broke out during the movie when skating was held at the High School. The Wilson’s dog had a hold on my arm with its teeth and then someone turned on the lights. I could see the surprize in the dogs eyes when he realized that all his biting and tearing were being wasted on me rather than the on other dog. He quickly let go of me and took aim at the other dog’s hind leg. The Wilsons had to keep him tied up until the authorities were sure he didn’t have rabies. It was a good thing for ma and the dog that he had his shots. I still have the scars but I never did blame the dog. He was a good dog.
Cholla Sizemore’s booklet on the Argus Cemetery is back from the printers and ready for sale! This is an order form you can save to your computer and print out. These will be available for sale at the Museum. For more information about this book please go to: http://www.news-ridgecrest.com/news/story.pl?id=0000002223 and http://www.ridgecrestca.com/article/20140227/NEWS/140229596