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World War II Effort in Colorado

Updated on August 5, 2014
The courage of airborne soldiers was invoked in this World War II poster to encourage American citizens to donate scrap metal to the war effort.
The courage of airborne soldiers was invoked in this World War II poster to encourage American citizens to donate scrap metal to the war effort. | Source

The New Deal

Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” politics came to a close near the end of 1939, and American’s momentarily forgot the depression as they centered their newest worries on Nazi occupied Europe. With the untimely bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States was immediately drawn into the war effort. Patriotism sprang up over night, and the lethargic state of Colorado took advantage of a great boom which would ease the state’s depressed economy for years to come.

Lowry Air Base

The bombsight was the key to successful missions. Here, Lowry students inspect and adjust Sperry bombsights.
The bombsight was the key to successful missions. Here, Lowry students inspect and adjust Sperry bombsights. | Source

The Grand Purchase

At the beginning of the war, most Coloradans realized that Military buildup was necessary in helping the economy. The use of Denver’s Fitzsimons Army Hospital, an intake unit for wounded soldiers and Lowry Air Base, an aerial photography instruction school, became Colorado focal points to the war cause. A few years’ later Colorado Springs merchants lobbied for a military post, and convinced military officials to seal the deal after purchasing the Cheyenne Valley Ranch for the military post. Since military installations created a wealth of job opportunities to the local economy, a few other cities began to make a demand for military presence like La Junta, Leadville, and Pueblo. Yet of all the military installations, Colorado Springs’s Fort Carson prospered the most.


Fort Carson

A markerFort Carson -
Fort Carson, CO, USA
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Equality on the Front Lines

Women and Minorities were also benefactors of a positive war effort. Before the war, many citizens were still struggling from the effects of the depression. By the first year of the war, a large percentage of able-bodied men had already been drafted into the military, leaving behind an abundance of single females, to take their place in the industry. Many left their jobs from behind the department store counters to learn the new trades once given to men and earn better wages than ever before. African American and Hispanic males also benefitted from the absence of a white male dominated society and took up better wage paying positions in canning factories and ammunition plants. Some even prospered after the war by opening businesses such as restaurants and night clubs.

Remington Arms

Girls operating milling machines on bolts - Remington Arms & Ammunition Factories Plant U. S. Army Signal Corps
Girls operating milling machines on bolts - Remington Arms & Ammunition Factories Plant U. S. Army Signal Corps | Source

A Thriving Economy

Throughout the state, there was a new exuberance. Though trodden with the weariness of the war front, Coloradans still held their heads high. The economy was in full swing, and for most, the memories of the depression era were no longer a reality, merely a memory that made Coloradans that much stronger. With the defeat of Japan, and eventually the Nazi regime, soldiers came home from the war found Colorado thriving with a revitalized economy mainly due to the expansion of military presence. Many soldiers stationed in Colorado eventually came back to the state where they had once served and settled down adding to the melting pot of Colorado’s economy.

Cited Sources

(Colorado: A History of the Centennial State. Abbot, Leonard and Noel. Page 297-315)

Afterward

Remington Arms Plant was a major World War II ammunitions plant that was known to have produced nearly 10 million rounds of ammunition a day. Employing nearly 20,000 workers, the plant also employed qualified women and African Americans.

John Galen Locke was nominated Grand Dragon of the Klu Klux Klan in 1923 for the entire state of Colorado. He championed the klan issues which at the time included no tolerance to African Americans and those of Jewish descent. Locke backed powerful politicians such as Lawrence Phipps who in turn contribute large amounts of funding to the institution. Locke’s power rose to its height until 1925.

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War World II Manpower

© 2012 ziyena

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  • Alastar Packer profile image

    Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

    A little known side of the Home Front outside the state, Colorado's contributions during WW2. Thanks for writing this up ziyena. That war certainly opened things up in the work place for women and minorities. Also, most people don't realize, that except for the North-east, the Klan was in almost every state in the union.

  • Deborah Brooks profile image

    Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

    wow I love this hub. I use to live in Colorado Springs when I was young. I father was stationed at the army base. things have changed so much since then.,' the base used to be army I guess they changed it into air force. great hub

    Debbie

  • diogenes profile image

    diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

    You have pinpointed the main problem and benefit of warfare.

    The problem is it kills people.

    The benefit is the economy of victor and defeated flourishes like pruned plants. (Look at Japan and Germany)

    Another plus is it helps shaky politicos garner votes,,,Obama...Iran!??

    Good hub and old pics.

    Bob

    PS Are there springs in Colorado.

    May I thank you all for preventing Britain becoming part of the Axis!

  • ziyena profile image
    Author

    ziyena 5 years ago from Southern Colorado

    Oh ... I forgot to mention NORAD :)

  • ziyena profile image
    Author

    ziyena 5 years ago from Southern Colorado

    Thank you. There are four military bases here in Colorado Springs ... Fort Carson, Schriever and Peterson Air Base, and the Air Force Academy ... hope this helps.

  • ThoughtSandwiches profile image

    ThoughtSandwiches 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada

    zlyena...

    The Home front in World War II has always fascinated me and this microcosmic look at the Colorado front fills in a historical gap for me. These studies (typically) concentrate on the West Coast, as opposed, to the inter-mountain area.

    The societal changes, that you note, were occasioned by shifting demographics and war time needs, opened the door that would lead to the Civil Rights movement during the 50s and the Women's equality movement of the 70s.

    You have done a wonderful job here and I am sharing widely.

    Thanks,

    Thomas

    PS...did the base in Colorado Springs turn into the Air Force Academy?

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