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Natrona APA-214 - History

Natrona APA-214 - History

Natrona
(APA-214: dp. 6,873; 1. 455', b. 62'; dr. 28'1", s. 17 k., cpl. 536; a. 1 5", 12 40mm.; cl. Haskell; T. VC2-S AP5)

Natrona (APA-211), was laid down as MC hull 562 under Maritime Commission contract 30 June 1944 by the Permanente Metals Corp., Richmond, California, launched 27 September 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Anna Louise Spigler, acquired and commissioned by the Navy 8 November 1944, Capt. Eric E. Winquist in command.

Following shakedown off Southern California, Natrona sailed for Hawaii, 3 January 1945, as a unit of Transport Squadron 17. At Pearl Harbor she debarked marines, loaded men and equipment of the 806th Engineering Battalion, and continued her westward passage on the 16th. By 1 February she reached Saipan, debarked her passengers and cargo, and sailed to Ulithi. There she took on marine night fighters and sailed for Leyte to prepare for operation "Iceberg," the invaslon of the Ryukyus.

On 21 March, Natrona, with marine night fighters and 77th Infantry Division men and equipment on board, departed Dulag in TG 51.1. Early on the 26th she arrived off lKerama Retto and proceeded to area "Jig." At 0.339 she lowered away nine wave guide boats, then moved to "Transport Area Fox" where at 0705 she had her first experience with Japanese kamikazes. After that air attack she moved to "Inner Transport Area George" to commence discharging her GargO of fuel and ammunition into small craft. At 1951 sho proceeded to tile night retirement area.

Until the 30th Natrona continued daylight replenishment of small craft in area "George," with nightly retirements. On 1 April, Okinawa was invaded and on the 2nd the Kerama Retto anchorage was the scene of a 13 hour battle against smerde planes, swimmers and boats. On the 6th, the anchorage was subjected to its most severe kamikaze attack, during which Natrona bagged her first unassisted kill.

On the 7th, she completed unloading 77th Division cargo. The following day she crossed to the Hagushi Beach area of Okinawa to debark the Marine night fighters and then returned to Kerama Retto to tran~sport the C.O., General Bruee and staff of the 77th Division to the same location.

Between 14 April and 10 July, Natrona remained anchored at Kerama Retto, serving as station and receiving ship. She also acted as Fleet Post Office, headquarters for ComDesRon 2 and ComRepDesPac, Fleet Replacement Center, Fog Oil coordinator and distributor, and subsistence center for crews of damaged and sunken ships. On 10 July, the transport shifted to Buckner Bay and on the 15th departed for the U.S., a veteran of 16 weeks and 208 air attacks in Okinawan waters.

Natrona arrived San Francisco 5 August. Celebrating the end of the war there, she got underway again on the 20th on the first of two extended transpacifie runs carrying replaeement troops to forward areas, occupation troops to Japan and returning veterans to the United States. On 13 January 1946, she completed her second cruise at San Pedro. Moving to Mare Island, she underwent inactivation overhaul, and on 29 July decommissioned and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet at Stockton, California. She remained at Stockton until struck from the Navy List and transferred to the Maritime Administration 1 October 1958. She has since remained berthed at Huisun Bay as a unit of the MARAD National Defense Reserve Fleet.

Natrona received one battle star for World War II service.


Harrison Township History

Much of the land in Southwestern Pennsylvania was “Depreciation Land”, tracks of land land auctioned and sold off to servicemen in the late 1700’s at a time when this area was the wilderness of the west. It is therefore no surprise that Harrison Township began as a pioneer farming community in the early 1800’s

Harrison Township was incorporated in 1900 and had several neighborhoods Natrona was there first, and as people started moving “up on the hill” they started new neighborhoods such a Ducktown, Birdville, Campton and Pughtown, all of which eventually became Natrona Heights.

The Burtner House, a National Historic Site, was one of the first homes built in what was to eventually become Harrison Township. Phillip Burtner and his two brothers, George and John, arrived in the Allegheny Valley in 1793 as scouts on the frontier and started building the home in1818. It was the residence for generations of Burtner family members and has been a reflection of the history of the community. The property once was a working farm, and people would stop at the house to water their horses before proceeding up the hill of what is now Burtner Road.

The House is now owned by the Township and has been restored by members of Burtner House Restoration Inc. under a lease with the Township. Annual events are held at the house and tours given by the Restoration Group. The Burtner House is located at the expressway exit to Natrona Heights, so all visitors to the community will see the House as soon as they enter the Township.

Allegheny Steel Company of Brackenridge (now ATI Flat Rolled Products, part of Allegheny Technologies) started operations in the very early 1900 as a part of the emergence of Pittsburgh as the steel capital of the world. Over the years it developed into a leader in the production of stainless and specialty steels, is one of the few steel mills in operations in the Pittsburgh area, is still growing, and is the township’s largest employer.

Harrison Township Historical Album (PDF) – please note that due to large file size the PDF may take a few minutes to load completely.

*this publication was from the Harrison Township Bicentennial Committee, 1976


History of Natrona County

Wyoming’s plains are the historical home to many nomadic tribes including the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Shoshone and Sioux. Today, about 6,000 Shoshone and Arapaho continue to reside on the 2.3 million acre Wind River Reservation, northwest of Natrona County.

In 1812, John Jacob Astor established Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia and sent Robert Stuart east to start what was hoped to become a network of trading posts. Stuart found South Pass by following a Crow Indian trail and entered our region. Near Bessemer Bend, Stuart and his small band erected the first white man’s hut in 1812. Although Astor’s plans failed when the British captured Astoria in 1812, trappers and scouts continued to explore our high plains and develop transit routes. On July 4, 1824, some of these trappers named Independence Rock.

In 1840, Father Jean Pierre DeSmet began spreading the gospel among area Indians. Father DeSmet was the first to carve his name on Independence Rock and give it the name, “The Register of the Desert.” In 1843, John C. Fremont (known as “The Pathfinder”) chiseled his name on Independence Rock and later with Kit Carson as his guide, went on to explore the country along the Platte and Sweetwater Rivers.


Natrona APA-214 - History

USS Natrona was one of the 117 Haskell -class attack transports built to a modified Victory ship design. Constructed at Richmond, California, she was commissioned in November 1944. After shakedown training on the West Coast, she sailed for Ulithi, stopping at Pearl Harbor and Saipan to load and deliver troops and cargo. Arriving at Ulithi in February 1945, she embarked Marine night fighters and moved to Leyte to load additional troops and prepare for the assault on Okinawa. In late March, Natrona participated in the inital landings at Kerama Retto, whose anchorage was used to support the Okinawa landings. A week after the Okinawa assault, she put her Marine night fighters ashore there, then returned to Kerama Retto, where she served as station and receiving ship into July. Having endured 208 air attacks while near Okinawa, she returned to San Francisco in August.

After the Japanese surrender, Natrona carried out two trans-Pacific round trip voyages, carrying replacement troops to forward areas, occupation troops to Japan, and returning Pacific War veterans to the United States as part of Operation "Magic Carpet." She completed the second of these voyages at San Pedro, California, in mid-January 1946 and then moved to Mare Island for inactivation. She was decommissioned and placed in reserve in July 1946. Retained on the Navy list for the next decade as a mobilization asset, Natrona was transferred to the Maritime Administration in August 1958 for further retention and stricken from the Navy list in October. The Maritime Administration sold her for scrapping in March 1975.

This page features our only view of USS Natrona (APA-214).

If you want higher resolution reproductions than the digital image presented here, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.

In San Francisco Bay, California, in late 1945 or early 1946.
The missing gun tub on the bow indicates that this photo was taken after all of her armament except two 20mm guns was removed, an action taken before late January 1946.

Donation of Boatswain's Mate First Class Robert G. Tippins, USN (Retired), 2003.


Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

Terror (CM-5) was laid down on 3 September 1940 by the Philadelphia Navy Yard launched on 6 June 1941 sponsored by Mrs. Ralph A. Bard and commissioned on 15 July 1942, Comdr. Howard Wesley Fitch in command.

Following fitting out and shakedown, Terror--the Navy's only minelayer built specifically for minelaying--arrived at New York on 30 October 1942 to prepare for her first large-scale operation. With Task Group 38.3, the new minelayer sortied the harbor on 2 November and set her course for North Africa. Rain squalls strong winds, and heavy seas forced the convoy to alter its course, but its goal remained the same--the support and reinforcement of Operation "Torch."

At dawn on 14 November, Terror parted company with the convoy and, escorted by a single destroyer, made her way at 20 knots to the newly taken port of Casablanca. Sunken ships added to the congestion of the harbor as Terror fueled Miantonomah (CM-10) and supplied that vessel with mines. Terror then prepared for her primary mission at Casablanca and the task for which she had been designed, minelaying. Her sortie was delayed on the morning of the 16th due to continued congestion in the harbor. Later, as Terror's crew made ready to get underway, they discovered that a large, "old fashioned" anchor with a heavy chain was fouling the ship's starboard anchor chain. After correcting this problem, Terror got underway in company with two minesweepers and, in short order, began laying the minefield which would protect the ships in the harbor. When completed, shortly before dark the same day, the minefield provided Allied shipping a protected channel entrance to Casablanca, stretching seven miles out from El Hank Light, a formidable barrier for any marauding enemy submarine to penetrate. Steaming at 16 knots, Terror made her way back to the port just as night fell.

On the following day, despite the obstacles imposed by rudimentary receiving facilities on shore and an extreme shortage of lighters, Terror unloaded her cargo of depth charges and ammunition, using a salvaged tank lighter and several wooden barges. Having accomplished her mission, Terror departed Casablanca and rendezvoused with a convoy bound for the east coast of the United States. Strong head winds, heavy seas, and the slowness of the convoy made it difficult for Terror to keep her station. Off the Virginia Capes, Terror was detached from the convoy and made for the Naval Mine Depot, Yorktown. She arrived on 30 November to commence overhaul and training.

In the months that followed, Terror operated out of Yorktown, making frequent voyages to the Chesapeake Bay for exercises and occasionally stopping at Norfolk for repairs or overhaul. Often students from the Mine Warfare Training Facility came on board for instruction tours. Meanwhile, members of Terror's crew, when not attending classes ashore, participated in drills, training, and exercises in gunnery, mine warfare, and damage control. In February, the minelayer assisted Nuthatch (AM-60) as that vessel tested the Mark 10 "hedgehog" off Yorktown. After receiving additional antiaircraft guns in May, Terror participated in tactical exercises in the Chesapeake Bay through the summer.

Late in September, she began loading mines in preparation for her departure from the Atlantic coast. At Norfolk, she rendezvoused with Task Unit 29.2.6 and, on 2 October, she got underway for the Canal Zone and Pacific ports. On the morning of 19 October, she passed under the Golden Gate Bridge and anchored in San Francisco Bay. The next day, she departed the west coast and steamed via Pearl Harbor to the Ellice Islands.

She arrived at Funafuti on 9 November, unloaded pontoon barges, and took on fresh water. During the nearly three weeks she remained at Funafuti, Terror supported the many small craft which surveyed and mined the approaches to the atoll, supplying them with provisions, water, repairs, and medical services. At the same time, she assisted in the conversion of a 1,500-ton covered lighter into a barracks for a construction battalion, sending skilled personnel to speed the work and providing water and mess facilities for the battalion until the task was completed. On the 17th, Terror's gunners fired on the enemy for the first time when Japanese planes bombed the runway on Funafuti. The Japanese raiders dropped 40 bombs near the airstrip causing a fire which burned for an hour. Another alert followed in the afternoon, but no further action occurred. Terror laid mooring buoys in the anchorage before getting underway for Hawaii on 28 November.

Early in December, she loaded mines and gear at Pearl Harbor then set her course for Tarawa, where she provided heavy equipment and mines for mine details. At night, searchlights from shore combed the dark, spotting enemy planes in an attempt to foil the persistent Japanese raiders.

On Christmas day, Terror got underway. She delivered mines and heavy equipment to units at Espiritu Santo and Guadalcanal before arriving at Makin Island on 18 January 1944. The minelayer anchored in the lagoon while her boats surveyed the passes in the reef. She then readied a self-propelled barge to mine the channels. She departed Makin on the 28th and proceeded independently to Tarawa where she embarked Mine Detail 19. On the last day of January, she got underway for Pearl Harbor and took on passengers for transportation to San Francisco. After a three-day stay, she departed the west coast on 21 February with over 500 passengers on board, accommodated on a temporary wooden deck constructed over the tracks on the mine deck. She discharged her passengers at Pearl Harbor on the 26th then steamed on to Majuro, where she arrived on 10 March.

During the rest of March and into April, she conducted minelaying operations in the Marshalls before getting underway for the Hawaiian Islands on 22 April. There, she underwent repairs, loaded mines, and participated in gunnery exercises before departing on 24 May. In the following months, she carried ammunition, mines, and bombs to the Marshalls and Marianas, returning once to Pearl Harbor to load ammunition. On 17 August, she departed Oahu--this time setting her course for the west coast. Terror arrived at San Francisco on the 24th for drydocking and overhaul. On 9 September, she got underway carrying a cargo of ammunition. After loading mines and minesweeping gear at Pearl Harbor, she steamed to Ulithi where she began defensive mining operations.

On 16 October, Terror was transferred from ServRon 6 to Minecraft Pacific Fleet. During October and November, she carried cargoes to the Marianas, Carolines, and Admiralties. On 25 November, she entered the Navy Yard at Pearl Harbor for repairs and alterations to accommodate the staff of Commander, Minecraft Pacific Fleet. On 6 January 1945, Terror assumed duty as the flagship of Rear Admiral Alexander Sharp.

For two weeks, Terror conducted exercises out of Pearl Harbor. Then, on 22 January, she got underway and proceeded via Eniwetok to the Carolines. At Ulithi, Terror supplied mines and gear to minecraft preparing for the invasion of Iwo Jima. She then steamed on to Tinian to act as tender for minecraft in that second staging area. On 13 February, she departed the Marianas setting her course for the Volcano Islands.

At 0717 on 17 February, Terror arrived in the fire support area off the east coast of Iwo Jima. Pre-assault bombardment and minesweeping were well underway when fire from guns on the cliff-lined shore began to interfere with minesweepers operating close inshore, north of the eastern beaches. Terror closed the shore to 10,000 yards and, for 20 minutes, added her five-inch gunfire to the bombardment in an attempt to aid the small craft. Nevertheless, the formidable barrage put out by the enemy began to take its toll as first Pensacola (CA-24) and then Leutze (DD-481) suffered hits. Shortly after noon, damaged landing craft began coming alongside the tender for assistance. Terror acted as a casualty evacuation vessel for minesweepers and small craft acting in support of underwater demolition teams. Soon her medical facilities were severely taxed. One after another of these small craft came alongside to transfer their wounded and to receive assistance in repairing their vessels. Terror continued her duties off Iwo Jima until 1835 on 19 February when she headed for the Marianas.

On 21 February, she transferred battle casualties to an Army hospital at Saipan then steamed to Ulithi, where she arrived on the 23d. At that base, she serviced and supplied minecraft staging for the assault on Okinawa. She arrived off Kerama Retto on 24 March to act as flagship and tender for minecraft. Terror operated off Kerama Retto until the morning of the 29th when she anchored in that island's harbor. There, despite the constant danger of kamikaze attacks, she performed her dual role as tender and flagship. Her entire complement labored long hours to maintain the supply of water, oil, gear, and ammunition required by minecraft in the area. At the same time, her resources were further strained by the duties imposed by her status as flagship.

On the morning of 2 April 1945, Japanese planes penetrated the harbor. Terror took two of the attackers under fire and witnessed the splashing of one plane only 600 yards away. In the following days, Terror-- responding to warnings to be prepared for attacks by Japanese planes, swimmers, and suicide boats--stationed special night sentries on deck and in a picket boat to intercept any ingenious attackers. Predicted mass air attacks materialized on 6 April when Japanese manes pounded the harbor at Kerama Retto for four hours, coming in on Terror from all quarters and keeping her gunners busy. The tender joined other ships in downing two Japanese planes and furnished rescue boats, clothing, and treatment for the survivors of LST-447 and SS Logan Victory.

Throughout April, Terror remained at Kerama Retto providing logistic services and receiving casualties from ships hit by kamikazes. Combat air patrols kept raiders outside the harbor most of the time but, on 28 April, Pinckney (APH-2)--anchored nearby--was hit by a suicide plane. Terror fired on the enemy aircraft, sent boats to Pinckney's aid, and treated many casualties. During the long and arduous month of April, Terror's crew went to general quarters 93 times, for periods ranging from seven minutes to six and one-half hours.

Minutes before 0400 on 1 May 1945, as Terror lay at anchor in Kerama Retto, a kamikaze dove toward the ship. Darting through a hole in the smoke screen and coming in on Terror's port beam, the attacker banked sharply around the stern, then came in from the starboard quarter so rapidly that only one of the minelayer's stern guns opened fire. As the plane crashed into the ship's communication platform, one of its bombs exploded. The other penetrated the main deck before it, too, exploded. The aircraft's engine tore through the ship's bulkheads to land in the wardroom. Fire flared immediately in the superstructure but was soon controlled and, within two hours, was extinguished. Flooding of the magazines prevented possible explosions, and no engineering damage occurred, but the kamikaze had exacted its toll. The attack cost Terror 171 casualties: 41 dead, 7 missing, and 123 wounded.

The following day, the battered ship was moored to Natrona (APA-214) for emergency repairs. She got underway on the 8th to rendezvous with a convoy bound for Saipan. Since a survey of the vessel revealed that her damage was too great to be repaired in a forward area, Terror steamed via Eniwetok and Pearl Harbor to the west coast. She reached San Francisco on 1 June 1945, unloaded ammunition, and then began her overhaul.

Her repairs completed, she departed San Francisco Bay on 15 August and steamed for Korea via the Hawaiian Islands, Saipan, and Okinawa. Moored in Buckner Bay on 16 September, she weathered a furious typhoon. Pounding against Patoka (AO-9) put a few holes in Terror's side, but she was soon repaired. On 9 October, while still at Okinawa, she emerged undamaged from another typhoon which beached or wrecked over 100 vessels at Buckner Bay and Unten Ko.

In December, Panamint (AGC-13) replaced Terror as flagship for Minecraft Pacific Fleet, and the veteran of many Pacific campaigns again crossed the Pacific to arrive at San Francisco in February. She made one voyage to Pearl Harbor in March, then returned to the west coast. Terror remained there until February 1947 when she departed San Francisco and steamed through the Panama Canal to embark the Commander, Minecraft Atlantic Fleet at San Juan late in February. Following exercises in the Caribbean, she operated out of east coast ports until July 1947 when she arrived at the Charleston Navy Yard for inactivation. During the Korean War, she was placed in service in reserve and on 7 February 1955, she was redesignated a fleet minelayer (MM-5). Her designation symbol was changed to MMF-5 in October 1955, and she was decommissioned on 6 August 1956. In 1971, her hulk was sold to the Union Minerals and Alloys Corporation, of New York City.

Terror received four battle stars for World War II service. Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation


Natrona APA-214 - History

(CM-5: dp. 5,875 1. 454'10" b. 60'2" dr. 19'7", s. 20.3 k. cpl. 481 a. 4 5", 16 1.1", 14 20mm. cl.Terror)

Terror (CM-5) was laid down on 3 September 1940 by the Philadelphia Navy Yard, launched on 6 June 1941 sponsored by Mrs. Ralph A. Bard and commissioned on 15 July 1942, Comdr. Howard Wesley Fitch in command.

Following fitting out and shakedown, Terror-the Navy's only minelayer built specifically for minelaying —arrived at New York on 30 October 1942 to prepare for her first large-scale operation. With Task Group 38.3, the new minelayer sortied the harbor on 2 November and set her course for North Africa. Rain squalls strong winds, and heavy seas forced the convoy to alter its course, but its goal remained the same-the support and reinforcement of Operation "Torch."

At dawn on 14 November, Terror parted company with the convoy and, escorted by a single destroyer, made her way at 20 knots to the newly taken port of Casablanca. Sunken ships added to the congestion of the harbor as Terror fueled Miantonomah (CM-10) and supplied that vessel with mines. Terror then prepared for her primary mission at Casablanca and the task for which she had been designed, minelaying. Her sortie was delayed on the morning of the 16th due to continued congestion in the harbor. Later, as Terror's crew made ready to get underway, they discovered that a large, "old fashioned" anchor with a heavy chain was fouling the ship's starboard anchor chain. After correcting this problem, Terror got underway in company with two minesweepers and, in short order, began laying the minefield which would protect the ships in the harbor. When completed, shortly before dark the same day, the minefield provided Allied shipping a protected channel entrance to Casablanca, stretching seven miles out from El Hank Light, a formidable barrier for any marauding enemy submarine to penetrate. Steaming at 16 knots, Terror made her way back to the port just as night fell.

On the following day, despite the obstacles imposed by rudimentary receiving facilities on shore and an extreme shortage of lighters, Terror unloaded her cargo of depth charges and ammunition, using a salvaged tank lighter and several wooden barges. Having accomplished her mission, Terror departed Casablanca and rendezvoused with a convoy bound for the east coast of the United States. Strong head winds, heavy seas, and the slowness of the convoy made it difficult for Terror to keep her station. Off the Virginia Capes, Terror was detached from the convoy and made for the Naval Mine Depot, Yorktown. She arrived on 30 November to commence overhaul and training.

In the months that followed, Terror operated out of Yorktown, making frequent voyages to the Chesapeake Bay for exercises and occasionally stopping at Norfolk for repairs or overhaul. Often students from the Mine

Warfare Training Facility came on board for instruction tours. Meanwhile, members of Terror's crew, when not attending classes ashore, participated in drills, training, and exercises in gunnery, mine warfare, and damage control. In February, the minelayer assisted Nuthatch (AM-60) as that vessel tested the Mark 10 "hedgehog" off Yorktown. After receiving additional antiaircraft guns in May, Terror participated in tactical exercises in the Chesapeake Bay through the summer.

Late in September, she began loading mines in preparation for her departure from the Atlantic coast. At Norfolk, she rendezvoused with Task Unit 29.2.6 and, on 2 October, she got underway for the Canal Zone and Pacific ports. On the morning of 19 October, she passed under the Golden Gate Bridge and anchored in San Francisco Bay. The next day, she departed the west coast and steamed via Pearl Harbor to the Ellice Islands.

She arrived at Funafuti on 9 November, unloaded pontoon barges, and took on fresh water. During the nearly three weeks she remained at Funafuti, Terror supported the many small craft which surveyed and mined the approaches to the atoll, supplying them with provisions, water, repairs, and medical services. At the same time, she assisted in the conversion of a 1,500-ton covered lighter into a barracks for a construction battalion, sending skilled personnel to speed the work and providing water and mess facilities for the battalion until the task was completed. On the 17th, Terror's gunners fired on the enemy for the first time when Japanese planes bombed the runway on Funafuti. The Japanese raiders dropped 40 bombs near the airstrip causing a fire which burned for an hour. Another alert followed in the afternoon, but no further action occurred. Terror laid mooring buoys in the anchorage before getting underway for Hawaii on 28 November.

Early in December, she loaded mines and gear at Pearl Harbor then set her course for Tarawa, where she provided heavy equipment and mines for mine details. At night, searchlights from shore combed the dark, spotting enemy planes in an attempt to foil the persistent Japanese raiders.

On Christmas day, Terror got underway. She delivered mines and heavy equipment to units at Espiritu Santo and Guadalcanal before arriving at Makin Island on 18 January 1944. The minelayer anchored in the lagoon while her boats surveyed the passes in the reef. She then readied a self-propelled barge to mine the channels. She departed Makin on the 28th and proceeded independently to Tarawa where she embarked Mine Detail 19. On the last day of January, she got underway for Pearl Harbor and took on passengers for transportation to San Francisco. After a three-day stay, she departed the west coast on 21 February with over 500 passengers on board, accommodated on a temporary wooden deck constructed over the tracks on the mine deck. She discharged her passengers at Pearl Harbor on the 26th then steamed on to Majuro, where she arrived on 10 March.

During the rest of March and into April, she conducted minelaying operations in the Marshalls before getting underway for the Hawaiian Islands on 22 April. There, she underwent repairs, loaded mines, and participated in gunnery exercises before departing on 24 May. In the following months, she carried ammunition, mines, and bombs to the Marshalls and Marianas, returning once to Pearl Harbor to load ammunition. On 17 August, she departed Oahu-this time setting her course for the west coast. Terror arrived at San Francisco on the 24th for drydocking and overhaul. On 9 September, she got underway carrying a cargo of ammunition. After loading mines and minesweeping gear at Pearl Harbor, she steamed to Ulithi where she began defensive mining operations.

On 16 October, Terror was transferred from ServRon 6 to Minecraft Pacific Fleet. During October and November, she carried cargos to the Marianas, Carolines, and Admiralties. On 25 November, she entered the Navy Yard at Pearl Harbor for repairs and alterations to accommodate the staff of Commander, Minecraft Pacific Fleet. On 6 January 1945, Terror assumed duty as the flagship of Rear Admiral Alexander Sharp.

For two weeks, Terror conducted exercises out of Pearl Harbor. Then, on 22 January, she got underway and proceeded via Eniwetok to the Carolines. At Ulithi, Terror supplied mines and gear to minecraft preparing for the invasion of Iwo Jima. She then steamed on to Tinian to act as tender for minecraft in that second staging area. On 13 February, she departed the Marianas setting her course for the Volcano Islands.

At 0717 on 17 February, Terror arrived in the fire support area off the east coast of Iwo Jima. Pre-assault bombardment and minesweeping were well underway when fire from guns on the cliff-lined shore began to interfere with minesweepers operating close inshore, north of the eastern beaches. Terror closed the shore to 10,000 yards and, for 20 minutes, added her five-inch gunfire to the bombardment in an attempt to aid the small craft. Nevertheless, the formidable barrage put out by the enemy began to take its toll as first Pensacola (CA-24) and then Leutze (DD-481) suffered hits. Shortly after noon, damaged landing craft began coming alongside the tender for assistance. Terror acted as a casualty evacuation vessel for minesweepers and small craft acting in support of underwater demolition teams. Soon her medical facilities were severely taxed. One after another of these small craft came alongside to transfer their wounded and to receive assistance in repairing their vessels. Terror continued her duties off Iwo Jima until 1835 on 19 February when she headed for the Marianas.

On 21 February, she transferred battle casualties to an Army hospital at Saipan then steamed to Ulithi, where she arrived on the 23d. At that base, she serviced and supplied minecraft staging for the assault on Okinawa. She arrived off Kerama Retto on 24 March to act as flagship and tender for minecraft. Terror operated off Kerama Retto until the morning of the 29th when she anchored in that island's harbor. There, despite the constant danger of kamikaze attacks, she performed her dual role as tender and flagship. Her entire complement labored long hours to maintain the supply of water, oil, gear, and ammunition required by minecraft in the area. At the same time, her resources were further strained by the duties imposed by her status as flagship.

On the morning of 2 April 1945, Japanese planes penetrated the harbor. Terror took two of the attackers under fire and witnessed the splashing of one plane only 600 yards away. In the following days, Terror— responding to warnings to be prepared for attacks by Japanese planes, swimmers, and suicide boats-stationed special night sentries on deck and in a picket boat to intercept any ingenious attackers. Predicted mass air attacks materialized on 6 April when Japanese manes pounded the harbor at Kerama Retto for four hours, coming in on Terror from all quarters and keeping her gunners busy. The tender joined other ships in downing two Japanese planes and furnished rescue boats, clothing, and treatment for the survivors of LST-447 and SS Logan Victory.

Throughout April, Terror remained at Kerama Retto providing logistic services and receiving casualties from ships hit by kamikazes. Combat air patrols kept raiders outside the harbor most of the time but, on 28 April, Pinckne

g ( APH-2)—anchored nearby-was hit by a suicide plane. Terror fired on the enemy aircraft, sent boats to Pinckney's aid, and treated many casualties. During the long and arduous month of April, Terror's crew went to general quarters 93 times, for periods ranging from seven minutes to six and one-half hours.

Minutes before 0400 on 1 May 1945, as Terror lay at anchor in Kerama Retto, a kamikaze dove toward the ship. Darting through a hole in the smoke screen and coming in on Terror's port beam, the attacker banked sharply around the stern, then came in from the starboard quarter so rapidly that only one of the minelayer's stern guns opened fire. As the plane crashed into the ship's communication platform, one of its bombs exploded. The other penetrated the main deck before it, too, exploded. The aircraft's engine tore through the ship's bulkheads to land in the wardroom. Fire flared immediately in the superstructure but was soon controlled and, within two hours, was extinguished. Flooding of the magazines prevented possible explosions, and no engineering damage occurred, but the kamikaze had exacted its toll. The attack cost Terror 171 casualties: 41 dead, 7 missing, and 123 wounded.

The following day, the battered ship was moored to Natrona (APA-214) for emergency repairs. She got underway on the 8th to rendezvous with a convoy bound for Saipan. Since a survey of the vessel revealed that her damage was too great to be repaired in a forward area, Terror steamed via Eniwetok and Pearl Harbor to the west coast. She reached San Francisco on 1 June 1945, unloaded ammunition, and then began her overhaul.

Her repairs completed, she departed San Francisco Bay on 15 August and steamed for Korea via the Hawaiian Islands, Saipan, and Okinawa. Moored in Buckner Bay on 16 September, she weathered a furious typhoon. Pounding against Patoka (AO-9) put a few holes in Terror's side, but she was soon repaired. On 9 October, while still at Okinawa, she emerged undamaged from another typhoon which beached or wrecked over 100 vessels at Buckner Bay and Unten Ko.

In December, Panamint (AGC-13) replaced Terror as flagship for Minecraft Pacific Fleet, and the veteran of many Pacific campaigns again crossed the Pacific to arrive at San Francisco in February. She made one voyage to Pearl Harbor in March, then returned to the west coast. Terror remained there until February 1947 when she departed San Francisco and steamed through the Panama Canal to embark the Commander, Minecraft Atlantic Fleet at San Juan late in February. Following exercises in the Caribbean, she operated out of east coast ports until July 1947 when she arrived at the Charleston Navy Yard for inactivation. During the Korean War, she was placed in service in reserve and on 7 February 1955, she was redesignated a fleet minelayer (MM-5). Her designation symbol was changed to MMF-5 in October 1955, and she was decommissioned on 6 August 1956. In 1971, her hulk was sold to the Union Minerals and Alloys Corporation, of New York City.


Natrona APA-214 - History

When a relative stumbled across a treasure trove of old postcards from a slew of towns in the Alle-Kiski Valley, Charles "Skip" Culleiton of Lower Burrell was intrigued. A popular form of communication until about the 1930s, the postcards speak a great deal about past places and people: Culleiton has several different postcards featuring just the old YMCA building in Tarentum, now Gatto Cycle Shop along East Seventh Avenue in Tarentum. He has collected 250 historical postcards from Tarentum alone. "I thought they were really nice pictures and after that, I just started to collect them," says the 71-year-old Culleiton.

Word got around that Culleiton, a retired research chemist for Alcoa, had amassed quite a collection and, subsequently, a lot of local history. He was tapped to contribute to a book commemorating the 150th anniversary of Tarentum, which he ended up writing in 1992. And he's been writing about local history ever since. In the past decade, he lent a hand with Brackenridge's 100th anniversary book as well as Lower Burrell's 50th anniversary history, and penned "Greetings from the A-K Valley" published by Creighton Printing in 2003, among others.

Culleiton's latest offering, "Historical Natrona," is a massive collection, by local history standards at 256 pages, covering the town's fabled and prosperous history. Culleiton spent more than two years researching the history of Natrona, interviewing locals and combing through old newspapers. Culleiton shines the light on the high times of the town, in the first half of the 20th century when the Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing Co. offered not just jobs, but a way of life. The book explores the town's many industries -- salt, oil, coal and steel, even the town's lesser-known role as a stopover for workers who floated rafts of timber down the Allegheny River from Tionesta and Warren to Pittsburgh.

Culleiton explores the roots of the steel giant Allegheny Technologies before it was Allegheny Ludlum, when it was just Allegheny Steel. But residents know the historical star of the town, the Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing Co., established in 1850. With two salt wells and a few company houses for workers, the company prospered with more workers, more company-owned homes, really company-owned everything: In 1913, there were 113 retail businesses in Natrona, and Penn Salt owned most of them, according to Culleiton's account. In that same year, people and goods poured into the town in 24 passenger and freight trains rolling through the area daily.

What accounted for Natrona's staying power? A combination of factors, according to Culleiton. "Natrona was the first town in the valley to have a large industry," he says. "People from all the neighboring communities worked at Penn Salt." Although Penn Salt closed the Natrona plant in 1959, selling the site to the steel mill, now Allegheny Technologies, the company left a long-lasting footprint in the town. "The salt company took care of its people," Culleiton says. "It provided medical service and housing -- people were proud to work for them. And they did well for over 100 years."

Culleiton adds that the geographic nature of the town, somewhat isolated, with the river on one side and hills on the other, brought everyone together for a long time. "There wasn't room for expansion, the community was close-knit, and it just continued through the years," he says. The strong community bonds were evident in the high number of social and fraternal organizations in the town.

"People were proud of their heritage, and many were religious," he says. A good chunk of Culleiton's book is devoted to the history of Natrona's schools and churches. Culleiton observes: "At one time in the 1900s, there were three different catholic grade schools, a catholic high school, a Lutheran grade school, Natrona high school and then two public grade schools, and today, there are no schools there."

Of course, culling through so much information, Culleiton has favorite historical nuggets about Natrona: During World War II, Penn Salt was manufacturing fluorine gas for Freon and refining high-octane aviation fuel. "But they were making much more fluorine than they needed for those uses," Culleiton says. "It was found out later that there was a building located in Natrona called the House of Secrets, and they were experimenting with developing the atomic bomb." Also in the national-security vein, Natrona made the top of a German list for sites to sabotage in the United States, targeting Penn Salt and Allegheny Steel.

"Historical Natrona" is available from the community group Natrona Comes Together, and the Allegheny-Kiski Valley Historical Society in Tarentum for $25.


Natrona County, Wyoming

Natrona County is a county located in the state of Wyoming. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 75,450, making it the second-most populous county in Wyoming. Its county seat is Casper.

Natrona County comprises the Casper, WY Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Natrona County Name

Named for the natron, or soda deposits in the county.

Demographics:

Natrona County History

Natrona County was initially organized in the year 1888. the first settlement occurred in the Casper area in the late 1800s.

Wyoming's plains are the historical home to many nomadic tribes including the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Shoshone and Sioux. Today, about 6,000 Shoshone and Arapaho continue to reside on the 2.3 million acre Wind River Reservation, northwest of Natrona County.

Natrona county has a vast and varied history, from the Teapot Dome scandal to the oil and gas fields. Wyoming with its natural beauty and the history have attracted movie makers from John Wayne movies to science fiction movies.

In 1812, John Jacob Astor established Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia and sent Robert Stuart east to start what was hoped to become a network of trading posts. Stuart found South Pass by following a Crow Indian trail and entered our region. Near Bessemer Bend, Stuart and his small band erected the first white man's hut in 1812. Although Astor's plans failed when the British captured Astoria in 1812, trappers and scouts continued to explore our high plains and develop transit routes. On July 4, 1824, some of these trappers named Independence Rock.

In 1840, Father Jean Pierre DeSmet began spreading the gospel among area Indians. Father DeSmet was the first to carve his name on Independence Rock and give it the name, "The Register of the Desert."In 1843, John C. Fremont (known as "The Pathfinder") chiseled his name on Independence Rock and later with Kit Carson as his guide, went on to explore the country along the Platte and Sweetwater Rivers.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 5,376 square miles (13,923 km 2 ), of which, 5,340 square miles (13,830 km 2 ) of it is land and 36 square miles (93 km 2 ) of it (0.67%) is water.

Natrona County is located in the central part of Wyoming and consists of 5,369 square miles, covering 3,436,160 acres with a population of almost 65,000. The county seat is in Casper, which offers a multitude of choices for a wealth of natural and cultural history. Casper is the only place where the Oregon, Mormon, Overland, Pony Express, and Bridger Trails intersect. Cattle and sheep ranching were among the first enterprises, and diverse geological formations fostered the development of an energy industry fueled by oil, gas, coal, and uranium.


Natrona APA-214 - History

Natrona County's long, colorful history is very important in the settlement of the Old West. The North Platte River runs through Carbon, Converse, Goshen, Platte, and Natrona Counties. It starts in northern Colorado and flows north til it makes an eastward bend around Casper, and onward to Nebraska. Indians called it Mini Nebrathka, or spreading outer. The French Malley brothers named it in 1739, "La Platte" each means broad and shallow.

Because pioneers needed a source of water in their travels, several trails ran through the county, and it is difficult to separate the trails from the events that occurred along these trails - as evidenced by the trail landmarks mentioned above. The Mormon Trail, the California Trail, the Oregon Trail and the Pony Express made their east-to-west run through the county. For the most part, these four trails followed the same route through Natrona County. These trails were the reason for many of the forts and small sites for river crossings. Bridger Trail left Fort Caspar, went to northwest to Lysite in Fremont County, up Bridger Creek, through the Big Horn Basin, west of the Big Horn Mountains and joined the Bozeman Trail east of the town of Bozeman , Montana. Jim Bridger used this route to avoid trespassing on Indian hunting grounds.

Of all the western trails used by fur traders, gold seekers, missionaries, and emigrants, the Oregon Trail was most important. Beginning in 1841 and lasting over 20 years, it was the route over which many thousands of emigrants traveled the 2,000 miles from western Missouri to Oregon's Willamette River Valley and to other locations in the Pacific Northwest. This tide of emigration and settlement caused England to relinquish her hold on the Old Oregon Territory in 1846, when it became part of the United States, comprising the present States of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, as well as those parts of Wyoming and Montana west of the Continental Divide. The National Park Service has identified the official 2,170 mile Oregon Trail route, which begins at Independence, Missouri, and extends through the states of Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and into Oregon, where it ends at Oregon City. It is a single route except for two relatively short branches one alternate route begins at Three Mile Crossing and the other at The Dalles, Oregon. The California Trail split from the Oregon Trail in western Wyoming significant travelers went this way before 1849, but a flood followed the 1849 discovery of gold in California.

A unique story in the westward movement is that of the Mormon Trail. The Mormons, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter Day Saints, journeyed west not for gold, but for the chance to build a Zion free from religious persecution. They called their migration to the Great Basin "the gathering". Approximately 70,000 church members, tens of thousands from the British Isles and Scandinavia, followed the trail to Utah between the years 1847 and 1869. Detailed planning, organization, and supervision by the Church Leaders characterize the Mormon migration. Another unique aspect of the gathering was the use of handcarts instead of wagons to carry the belongings of nearly 3,000 poorer "saints" to Utah in the 1850's.

On the Mormon Trail, the Mormon Ferry was built in 1847 at the direction of Brigham Young, to cross the Platte River near present day Casper. It was made of two large cottonwood canoes, fastened together with coarse pieces of rope and covered with slabs. It was large enough that oxen teams did not need to be unhitched from the wagons. Nine Mormons stayed to operate the ferry. It was used until Louis Guinard built a bridge in 1858.

After founding Salt Lake City, the Mormons settled over 300 communities in the West. Most settlements were in Utah, but others ranged from Canada to Mexico. These agricultural settlements were important to the economic development of the west. They provided supplies to western towns specializing in mining and other industries.

The Mormon Pioneer Trail is a component of the National Trails System. The official 1,300 mile route begins at Nauvoo, Illinois, and extends through the states of Iowa, Nebraska, and into Utah, where it ends at Salt Lake City. while nearly two-thirds of the trail is now in private ownership, many of the places and events associated with the trail can be seen or visited. Where wagons once rolled and teams traveled, highways, railroads, and bridges allow for modern-day travel.

This is a brief look at the early days of Natrona County (and some of what it is today).


Natrona County, Wyoming

Natrona County lies at the intersection of the basins, mountains and great plains of Wyoming that remain after billions of years of geological change. Here, water and wind have exposed rock layers, creating a dramatic landscape. Red outcroppings of sandstone vie with white limestone and variegated granites. Distinctive land features include Casper Mountain, Independence Rock, the Red Buttes, Devil’s Gate and Teapot Rock.

Much of the county holds buried treasures of oil and natural gas. More visible are outcrops of coal, remains of primordial swamps. Early-day prospectors also exploited deposits of copper, trona and asbestos.

This is an arid environment averaging ten inches of moisture per year, but few years are average. The mountains, such as Casper Mountain, receive considerably more moisture, usually in late winter snow storms. Run-off in the early summer can lead to flooding of the North Platte and Sweetwater rivers as well as smaller tributaries. Only man-made reservoirs prevent wholesale damage downstream.

Ancient nomads traveled through and lived in the area that would later become the county between 12,000 and 9,000 years ago. These people traveled during the warmer seasons and then settled in sheltered areas for the winter. They hunted big game like bison antiquus aaaaaand columbian and woolly mammoths, as well as smaller animals, and gathered edible plant materials such as berries and seeds.

Archaeologists have excavated a number of areas in Natrona County, mostly bison kill and butchering sites. A dig conducted in 2006 by local archeo-geologist John Albanese at Hell’s Half Acre, west of Casper, Wyo. found spear points and other materials that dated from 3,000 to 1,200 years ago. In 1971, Wyoming State Archaeologist George Frison excavated a bison kill site west of Casper, on the north bank of the North Platte River. The site dated from 10,000 to 9,500 years ago.

More recent Indian groups, including the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, Arapaho, Crow and Shoshone tribes migrated through and occasionally wintered in the county, beginning in the 1700s. Their lives came under increasing pressure after the arrival of Euro Americans. By the late 1800s, the U.S. government required most tribes to settle on reservations. Even so, bands of Lakota and Shoshone traveled through the county into the 1890s.

Many early European explorers came through Wyoming, among them Robert Stuart and his companions, who traveled east from Fort Astoria on the Pacific coast in 1812. History credits Stuart with recording the first European travel west to east on what became known as the Oregon Trail. A later explorer and mapmaker, John C. Frémont, nicknamed ”The Pathfinder,” gave the North Platte’s modern-day Pathfinder Dam and Reservoir their name. Photographer William Henry Jackson, who traveled with mapmaker Ferdinand Hayden, documented his travels through present‑day Natrona County in photographs and paintings.

In the mid-19th century, the North Platte and Sweetwater rivers became the route for numerous travelers moving to Oregon, California or the valley of the Great Salt Lake. The Oregon/California/Mormon Trail followed the river upstream from Nebraska, allowing emigrants to follow a clear path west.

Dangerous river crossings prompted entrepreneurs to construct ferries and bridges from what is now Douglas, Wyoming west into the Sweetwater country. The Archambault brothers and Charles Lajeunesse ran the Sweetwater bridges in the 1850s. First the Mormons ran a ferry just west of Casper, near present-day Mills, and then Louis Guinard established a bridge nearby. John Richard operated a series of bridges, the most notable being the one at what’s now Evansville,Wyo., east of Casper.

Beginning in the 1850s, the U.S. Army posted troops along the river to protect travelers at the crossings and later to defend the new telegraph line connecting the eastern states and California. In 1865, two famous battles between Indians and soldiers occurred in what is now Natrona County near an army post built at Guinard’s bridge. During the Battle of Platte Bridge Station on July 25, 1865, Cheyenne and Lakota warriors killed numerous soldiers including Lieutenant Caspar Collins. On the same day, more Indians attacked Sergeant Amos Custard and his small supply train a few miles to the west. In honor of Collins, the Army designated the post as Fort Casper, misspelling his name in the process. In 1888, the town of Casper, soon to be the county seat of Natrona County, also took Collins’s misspelled name.

Some of the earliest businesses in the county were cattle and sheep operations. Joseph Carey and his brother controlled much of the west side of the county including parts of what later became Casper. Joseph Carey later became a U.S. senator and Wyoming governor. Bryant B. Brooks, another land baron who invested in cattle and sheep, was also elected Wyoming governor. Texas rancher Gilbert Searight established the Goose Egg Ranch near Bessemer, west of Casper. The Goose Egg ranch house was a hotel, restaurant and possibly used as the setting for part of Owen Wister’s novel, The Virginian. Searight sold out to the Carey Brothers in time to avoid the horrible winter of 1886-1887.

Out in the Sweetwater country the biggest ranchers were Tom Sun, Bonaparte “Boney” Earnest, Albert and John Bothwell, and Tom and John Durbin. Perhaps the most notorious incident in that part of the county was the hanging of James Averell and Ellen Watson on July 20, 1889, by vigilantes Tom Sun, John Durbin, Albert Bothwell, Robert Conner, Robert Galbraith and Ernest McLean. A grand jury failed to bring charges against the men. Publicity, almost certainly engineered by the vigilantes, branded Watson as Cattle Kate, a notorious rustler, tarring her reputation until new research turned up the real story, clearing her name, in the 1990s.

In addition to the owners of large parcels of land were numerous smaller ranchers some raised cattle and somer raised sheep. Sheep began appearing on the ranges mostly in the northern and western parts of the county in the 1880s, but sheep ranching was not a big part of the economy until the 1890s. Many of the sheepmen were Irish immigrants and some of them, too, eventually controlled large acreages of land.

But as sheep numbers rose in the 1890s, and numbers of cattle gradually declined, tensions between cattlemen and sheep ranchers led to violence over who would get to use the open range. Particularly in northern Wyoming, some cattlemen tried to eliminate their competition, killing entire bands of sheep and sometimes sheepherders. In 1909, the peak year for sheep, there were around 6 million in Wyoming, and only about a seventh as many cattle. Cattle-sheep ratios were probably similar in Natrona County. In the early 1910s, tensions between cattle and sheep raisers finally began to decrease.

As towns sprang up in the late 1880s, residents began seeking a county government with the infant town of Casper at the center of this effort. In 1890, Territorial Governor Francis E. Warren signed legislation splitting Carbon County in two with the north half becoming Natrona County. Casper and Bessemer, ten miles farther up the North Platte, vied for the plum title of county seat. Bessemer got more votes, but the number was so much larger than the hamlet’s actual population that election officials declared the returns fraudulent, and Casper won the election, ensuring its survival and leading to Bessemer’s demise.

Casper in 1890 was hardly an upscale community. Most buildings were wood, but the addition of new government buildings constructed of sturdy brick led to reconstruction and expansion of business blocks in brick and stone. The Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad and later the Burlington Northern made the town into a supply and distribution hub. Other towns began to grow as ranching and oil discoveries drew people to the far reaches of the county.

Along with government and business infrastructure, houses, schools and churches made the towns good places to live and raise families. Newspapers competed aggressively for readers while detailing all of the comings and goings of residents and businessmen. Alfred Mokler, who arrived in 1897 to run the Natrona County Tribune, became an influential local opinion-maker. When he wrote his opinionated, but mostly factual History of Natrona County, Wyoming, 1888-1922 in 1923, he also became the official chronicler of the county’s past.

Little did people realize the immense changes that were coming their way when Cyrus Iba filed for the first oil lease in the county in the early 1880s. Beginning in the 1890s, scores of investors began to converge on Casper and by the turn of the century, test wells were common in the area. Mark Shannon created the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Company in 1888 to exploit possible oil properties in the Wyoming fields.

Transportation problems and the need for a local refinery hampered early efforts, but soon Pennsylvania Oil and Gas built a refinery in Casper. French and Belgian investors also set up operations, but it was the Midwest Oil Company in 1910 that began the first really big development. John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil was a latecomer. By the end of the 1920s, he had bought out most of the competition.

Around the same time, federal funds first came to the county in a substantial way with the construction of Pathfinder Dam on the North Platte River in Fremont Canyon, near the southern border of Natrona County. The U.S. Reclamation Service built the dam to store water for irriagation. Freight and supplies were shipped 50 miles out from Casper by mule train. The dam was completed in 1911.

In the 1910s and 1920s, the Salt Creek oil patch at the northern end of Natrona County was the largest production field in the world. This drew thousands of workers and their families, most of the men veterans of World War I, to Casper and the small towns that cropped up in the oil district. Salt Creek (later renamed Midwest), Edgerton, Lavoye and Snyder were just a few of the towns that arose almost over night. Edgerton and Midwest were the only towns to survive.

The Great Depression arrived in most of the nation after the stock-market crash of 1929. But economic difficulties hit Wyoming’s oil industry years earlier, in 1926. As prices and demand dropped, Natrona County experienced its first energy bust, and many people left.

After President Franklin Roosevelt took office in 1933, New Deal programs brought much- needed money and jobs into the county. Civilian Conservation Corps workers helped build roads and ski slopes on Casper Mountain. Works Project Administration and Public Works Administration money contributed to the construction of a replica of Fort Casper on its original site, a new post office and federal building downtown and provided funds for Alcova Dam, a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation project 30 miles upstream on the North Platte.

World War II, which began for the United States on December 7, 1941, finally brought the country out of the Depression and took hundreds of thousands of young men and women off to war. The war also brought the Casper Army Air Base to what is now the Natrona County International Airport. The base provided jobs for locals and introduced flyers-in-training to Wyoming hospitality.

After the war, many veterans returned to the state. They started families, found jobs and readjusted to their postwar lives. Natrona County’s population grew by more than 30 percent, from 23,858 to 31,437, between 1940 and 1950. In the following decade, population increased another 57 percent, reaching 49,623.

This was the time of television, and growing families and towns. Casper College opened for its first students in 1945, and a decade later was building a modern campus south of town on “C” Hill. This two-year college offered returning veterans an opportunity to begin their college educations paid for by the G.I. Bill.

From 1945 into the early 1970s was an era of optimism. Modern oilmen Dave True, Neil McMurry, Fred Goodstein, Tom Stroock and John Wold all began or expanded their operations during this time. The economic boom allowed these men and others to make fortunes in oil, real estate, construction and ranching. Casper was also a center in these years for the uranium business with offices of companies operating mines in nearby Carbon and Fremont counties. In spite of the prosperity, the population grew slowly in the 1960s. The census of 1970 recorded an additional 1,641 people, bringing the total up just 3.3 percent to 51,264.

Casper continued as the region’s hub, offering retail, medical and other services. In Casper and other communities, town leaders used tax revenues to pave streets, build sewer systems and provide a good water supply. Veterans Administration loans assisted veterans in buying many new houses.

Recreation and entertainment added to the quality of life. Casper had a symphony, movie theaters and beginning in 1957, the Casper Troopers, a drum and bugle corps that competed nationally. Ski enthusiasts enjoyed fresh powder on a few small ski slopes on Casper Mountain. The largest was Hogadon Basin Ski Area, which opened in 1959, and is still in use today, operated by the City of Casper. Many people also took advantage of the recreational opportunities at Alcova and Pathfinder Reservoirs.

Some of the luster ended when an economic bust in 1973 marked the end of the age of refineries and big oil production in Natrona County. Increasingly, oil came from other parts of the world but new types of oil drilling as well as an emphasis on natural gas eventually revived the county’s economy. Producers started shipping petroleum out by pipeline. The 1980 census showed 20,592 more residents than in 1970, a 40 percent increase that brought the total population to 71,856.

The most recent era of Natrona County’s history, between 1980 and 2011, showed some significant changes. Another energy bust in the 1980s led many of the larger oil companies to close their Casper offices, and forced local producers to diversify. Population fell. In addition to drilling, supplying equipment and workers kept companies afloat. The drilling supply business picked up again in the 1990s, with a boom in coal-bed methane production in the Powder River Basin to the north and east.

Cultural organizations continued to evolve. The Nicolaysen Art Museum opened in the restored Mountain States Power or Casper Lumber building in 1987. The museum and the expanded Natrona County Library anchored the eastern end of the historic downtown.

Casper remained a regional service center as large retailers came to town, and the Natrona County Memorial Hospital became the Wyoming Medical Center, providing increasingly complex and professional medical care. Casper College established a partnership with the University of Wyoming to offer four-year degrees in Casper. Government, service and medical jobs formed the core of the county economy.

The Texaco Refinery shut down in 1982 and the Amoco Refinery in 1991. After Amoco was absorbed by British Petroleum, that company cooperated with Natrona County and the City of Casper to clean up the refinery site and develop a golf course, river walk and business park on the property, which opened in 2004.

After a population loss during the bust of the 1980s, the area numbers were again climbing in the beginning of the 21 st century. As the county turned 120 years old in 2010, there was a sense of optimism in Natrona County. The population was up again, to 75,450. A diverse economy, a second hospital, other new medical businesses and many cultural amenities boded well for the county’s future. The resilience of the people showed through all the years of boom and bust. From early days, Natrona County was not appreciated by everyone, but those hardy enough to stay during tough times held it dear.


Watch the video: Humbug mine and Eureka mining town (January 2022).