IN 1996 I tried to find out how much of a presence Trona had on the Web. I found out it had very little except for the Trona High School Web Site, some real estate adds, some golf club information mentioning the Trona Golf Course and several references to someplace in Wyoming as being the Trona capital of the world. I decided it was time for Trona to have at least one more Web site and began work on this one. A year later, thanks to the large amount of work my sister did in publishing The Stevens Journals, I finally put it on the Internet.
I have carried an image of Trona in my head for over thirty years that, somehow, I expected to match the way it still was. When I returned to visit about three years ago I was shocked and depressed to see how much it had changed. I’ve returned twice since then and feel much better about it now but I can understand why my brother would say he never wants to go back again. There’s just too much gone that was once so much a part of our lives.
If you are from Trona, please don’t take offence at these comments. I know that many of you are people who, like me, love the desert and love Trona and many of you are people who are proud of the heritage of having lived in such a harsh environment. I had forgotten all the changes that took place while I lived there. The tennis court across from Austin hall that became Bill Lee’s Restaurant to replace the aging Coffee Shop and then became the Trona Bank and is now the Trona Water Company. The open roof theater that was replaced by the Fox Cinema and is now a Coffee Shop. Those were gradual changes that I watched not the accumulation of changes that occurred during almost 40 years of absence. If there is one thing for certain, nothing stays the same.
I cannot speak about the present owners of the Trona chemical plants or for those who have owned it since I left, despite AP&CC’s lack of understanding about environmental and industrial health issues, I’ve always had the feeling American Potash & Chemical Corporation cared about the town and the people in it. At that time, perhaps human labor and effort was more important than now. One thing is for sure that without the town of Trona, AP&CC would not have been able to attract the quality people they had working for them.
I think the biggest shock when I went back was pulling up to a vacant lot where the house I called home for so long once stood and finding just sand, brush and few remaining pieces of what once was a house. The other thing that seemed so sad was to see so many of the Tamarisk trees (Salt Cedar) gone and the remaining ones looking so thirsty. Of course, in Colorado they are trying to get rid of Tamarisk and consider it a noxious weed.
Our family lived in Trona for about forty years. My brothers, my sister and myself were all born there. My memories of Trona span from about 1948 to about 1961 from the time I was five until I graduated and went to college at age 17. There are still a few residents left that remember our family, and images of us preserved in old high school yearbooks and some of the publications in the Old Guest House Museum but for the most part the very small roll we played in the history of Trona is long forgotten.
Each year in October former residents of Trona get together to remember the time when they lived in Trona. Much like any small rural town, many think Trona is a place to be from and not a place to stay or to someday come home to. At least that has been true for many of us. The last time I visited Trona was in October, the weekend of the Gem and Mineral show and Former Tronians Picnic. Each time I go back I enjoy it more and more.