A few weeks ago Linda Cunningham Monroe send me a story written by Leon Emo, It was called the The Sites and Smells of Trona. Leon gave me permission to reprint his story on Trona on the Web. It is based on his impressions of Trona while driving through on his way to Death Valley over the years and from an interview with Pam Gorden Sanders who lived in Trona until she was in the eighth grade. She is not listed in the Alumni Registry so I don’t know how old she is but I’m guessing that she moved about 1955.
Leon’s story is a pretty accurate picture of the way I remember Trona. There are some differences, I know Joe Bangwin’s name. This is something Leon didn’t know until this week. I know that grass will grow in Trona if you can afford to waste the water. Even here in Minnesota, The Land of Ten Thousand Lakes, people are starting to rethink the wisdom of the stress it puts on water sources to keep lawns green.
AP&CC had a lawn in front of the plant for a while and they watered the oleander bushes around Austin Hall and the Club House with fresh water to keep them healthy. David Pillot grew what he called devil’s grass while they lived in Trona and I know he also grew grass in their yard out at Valley Wells. There were always roses in the circle in front of the school auditorium.
For a desert town Trona actually had a lot of trees. Many of the old salt cedar trees are gone now but there are still enough of them left to give Trona a distinctive look. They were watered with the salt water from Valley Wells. Now someone has discovered that palm trees can be grown very in Trona. I’d like to know what the requirements of their care are.The executive quarters had a large assortment of plants in it’s garden to be enjoyed by guests and out of town executives.
Leon mentioned that the population of Trona is now about 2,500. Considering that from the 1930 to 1960s the official population was about 2,000 the 2,500 number doesn’t seem so bad. 150 high school students doesn’t seem that bad either when you consider that during the 1950’s there were only 200.
This site is the way I try to tell my Trona stories. Doug Polly told it with with his Upinflames web site that I have preserved. Jess Dominguez tell his stories with his art. Some people tell their stories by way of donations to the Trona Museum or by volunteering to work there. Others are on alumni committees. Some people do it by asking me question or sending me pictures and stories of Trona that I add to this site. My sister does it by preserving our family history.
I’m sure George Pipkin probably holds the record and has written more stories about Trona and the surrounding area than anyone who ever lived. You cannot live in Trona without having a story to tell.