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1943: Drager is born, Sunnyside booms

By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

Editor's Note: This is one of a series of articles about the history of the Sun Advocate and the county it covers as a newspaper. These articles are being prepared in commemoration of the 120th anniversary of the newspaper's birth in 2011.

It is interesting how new things rise during of the darkest hours in American history.

In 1943 the United States was embroiled in World War II and in the first half of that year the tide had not turned for the allies yet. But the consequences of what was happening overseas was evident even in land locked Carbon County.

The need for raw materials to supply the war effort had given rise to many new enterprises and many old ones that were revamped. One such older operations was the coal mines in eastern Carbon County. Out of sagebrush and rocks about a mile from the old town of Sunnyside, grew new towns; Sunnyvale and Drager. And it happened in a period of time that seemed almost overnight.

"Building of the little town has been practically a miracle, a wand waving occurrence," stated the Sun Advocate in its March 31, 1943 issue. "But with much more labor than it takes to wave a wand."

The construction had begun only a few months before in October of 1942. The Utah Fuel-Kaiser Company had begun a project to house hundreds of workers who would be needed to ramp up coal and coke production in the area. The workers could be brought in, but there was no where for them to live. Thus was born a new company town in the county, similar in ways to company towns across the area that had been built by coal companies before, but this one much more modern.

The first houses were completed in January, 1943, with 600 men working almost continually to get the little village started.

Meanwhile for families of workers that were building the town and those that had come in to work in the mines, trailer houses had been used. The increased population put a strain on nearly everything in the area.

"The community of Sunnyside has increased so tremendously that the school house has been enlarged and new teachers have been hired to instruct the extra students that have moved into the area," stated the paper at the time.

But even temporary measures had not been enough to house everyone. The recently closed down Civil Conservation Camp in Price (which was located near where Carbon High is now located) had been also taken over by Kaiser for housing purposes during the growth spurt. Each day buses would run between Price and Sunnyside bringing workers to the mines.

Drager (later to become Dragerton, then East Carbon) was also under construction at the time as well. A bigger town (built at the time to house workers for the Columbia mine which was also expanding and the new Geneva Mine in Horse Canyon), it was planned to house thousands of people in 450 houses. These houses were being prefab built in Logan with walls coming to the area in sections with doors hung and windows in place.

This project was also employing hundreds of workers, which put even more strain on county services and resources.

Those projects, of course, did not preclude other things happening in the county however. Early in the year a fire destroyed an apartment house in Spring Canyon, putting 20 people out on the street. No one was injured and the cause was considered to be an overheated stove.

Tragedy in mines also took another toll in the area. In 1942 at least 14 workers had lost their lives in mine accidents in the county and the new year only brought more of it. By the end of the first month of the year three people had been killed in mine accidents, and by April a fourth died in an accident in the Sunnyside Mine.

The war had brought on rationing as was reported in articles earlier in this series. Now, more than ever, rationing and collections for materials grew ever greater. In February it was announced that point rationing would begin on canned goods sold in stores. Along with that came a new salvage movement; the collection of tin cans. The rule was that for each can of food purchased a housewife must return a used can that was "properly cleaned, with the label removed, both ends trimmed out and the can smashed flat." The order to do so was mandatory.

The war had also brought misery once again to families in the area too. Many were missing the sons, husbands and daughters that had gone away to defend the country. Many returned for furloughs that were noted weekly in the Sun Advocate and each week the paper would feature two service personnel in a piece called "Carbon County's Catalog of Military Men." But the biggest, and worst news, was when a son of the county was lost in the war.

On June 3, it was reported that Dorrel Rich, who had been noted as missing since the invasion of the Philippines in December 1941, and whose family had found out about his incarceration in a Japanese prisoner of war camp only a few days before another telegram arrived, had died. The Wellington man was on Corregidor when it fell. He was actually the third military man from Wellington reported to be captured by the Japanese, and the first from the county to die in a prisoner of war camp in World War II. Dragerton, then East Carbon) was also under construction at the time as well. A bigger town (built at the time to house workers for the Columbia mine which was also expanding and the new Geneva Mine in Horse Canyon), it was planned to house thousands of people in 450 houses. These houses were being prefab built in Logan with walls coming to the area in sections with doors hung and windows in place.

This project was also employing hundreds of workers, which put even more strain on county services and resources.

Those projects, of course, did not preclude other things happening in the county however. Early in the year a fire destroyed an apartment house in Spring Canyon, putting 20 people out on the street. No one was injured and the cause was considered to be an overheated stove.

Tragedy in mines also took a further toll in the area. In 1942 at least 14 workers had lost their lives in mine accidents in the county and the new year only brought more of it. By the end of the first month of the year three people had been killed in mine accidents, and by April a fourth died in an accident in the Sunnyside Mine.

The war had brought on rationing as was reported in articles earlier in this series. Now, more than ever, rationing and collections for materials grew ever greater. In February it was announced that point rationing would begin on canned goods sold in stores. Along with that came a new salvage movement; the collection of tin cans. The rule was that for each can of food purchased a housewife must return a used can that was "properly cleaned, with the label removed, both ends trimmed out and the can smashed flat." The order to do so was mandatory.

The war had also brought misery once again to families in the area too. Many were missing the sons, husbands and daughters that had gone away to defend the country. Many of those individuals returned for furloughs that were noted weekly in the Sun Advocate. In addition each week the paper would feature two service personnel in a piece called "Carbon County's Catalog of Military Men." But the biggest, and worst news, was when a son of the county was lost in the war.

On June 3, it was reported that Dorrel Rich, who had been noted as missing since the invasion of the Philippines in December 1941, and whose family had found out about his incarceration in a Japanese prisoner of war camp only a few days before the fateful telegram arrived, had died. The Wellington man was on Corregidor when it fell. He was actually the third military man from Wellington reported to be captured by the Japanese, and the first from the county to die in a prisoner of war camp in World War II.




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