Journal-News, Monday, Dec. 7, 1992
U-boat successes led to building Big Inch Pipeline
(This is the first of two columns on the Big Inch Pipeline built through Butler County during World War II.)
By Jim Blount
The success of German submarine warfare had an impact in Butler County as area residents marked the first anniversary of U. S. involvement in World War II.
Tuesday, Dec. 8, 1942 — a year and a day after the attack on Pearl Harbor — it was announced that Butler County would be on the route of an 857-mile, 24-inch oil pipeline from Norris City, 111., to the New York-Philadelphia refining areas.
German U-boats weren't mentioned in the announcement which explained that the transmission system would be an extension of the Big Inch Pipeline originating in Texas oil fields.
"The East, using all available tank cars, has been getting about 750,000 to 850,000 barrels of oil a day this past fall — against an estimated average minimum need of 1.4 million barrels," the Journal-News explained. Gasoline rationing had been imposed in 17 eastern states in May 1942.
"The principal purpose of laying such a pipeline," said the newspaper, "is because of the shortage of ocean-going tankers and railroad tank cars to carry the vital oil needed in the eastern states."
Defense officials didn't mention the main reason for the $60 million pipeline — the unreported success of German submarines off American coasts.
"Censorship thick as a Grand Banks fog hid the facts of the battle," said Time magazine in 1942 in reporting the U-boat attacks. "But the sights and sounds which filtered through told the people all they needed to know. The U. S. had been licked all along its Eastern Coast. From Portland, Maine, to Key West, coastal shipping was for all intents and purposes at a standstill," Time reported.
In a recent book, World War II, America At War , Norman Polmar and Thomas B. Allen said that by mid-March 1942 "the tankers were going down so fast that the Petroleum Industry War Council warned that if the situation did not improve, America would be out of oil in six months."
The German success had come with just a handful of submarines — five arriving off the east coast in January 1942 and later no more than 12 operating in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. In the first six months of war, U-boats sank 492 Allied ships off the East Coast.
Meanwhile, in 1942 the U. S. had only 103 aircraft and 20 vessels, the largest a 165-foot Coast Guard cutter, to patrol 1,500 miles of Atlantic coastline.
In an attempt to bypass the submarine threat, the U. S. government agreed April 21, 1942, to finance the Big Inch Pipeline to be operated by a cooperative formed by American oil companies.
The agency, War Emergency Pipeline Inc., said the Big Inch would enter Butler County west of Okeana and extend north of Millville and Hamilton through Trenton and south of Middletown into Warren County. Surveyors had started plotting the course through the county in November 1942.
Hamilton was designated headquarters for a 250-mile segment from Norris City, 111., to Mount Sterling, Ohio, and the WEP and the construction firm directing the project opened offices in the First National Bank Building here.
Local contractors were to participate in completing the pipeline which would convey 300,000 barrels of oil daily to the East Coast refineries.
The 534-mile portion from Longview, Texas, to Norris City in southern Illinois had been completed by the time work began on the 867-mile eastern extension.
At Norris City, 40 miles west of Evansville, Ind., the Texas oil was transferred to rail cars. The New York Central loaded as many as 1,200 tank cars a day (300,000 gallons), and the NYC and other eastern railroads had 10,000 tank cars assigned to this crucial service.
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Journal-News, Monday, Dec. 14, 1992
Pipeline hauled equivalent of 70 tankers each day
(This is the last of two columns on the Big Inch Pipeline built through Butler County during World War II.)
By Jim Blount
Imagine 70 sea-going tankers passing through Butler County each day. Figuratively, that's what happened in the final years of World War II after completion of the Big Inch pipeline.
The Big Inch extended about 1,400 miles from Longview, Texas through Ohio to Phoenixville, Pa., where several branches ran along the East Coast, delivering 300,000 barrels of crude oil daily.
The system had been authorized by the government in April 1942 when German submarine attacks along the Atlantic Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico threatened to deplete oil and gasoline supplies in the eastern United States.
The Big Inch was a high priority project completed within 15 months in 1942 and 1943. As explained in 1942-43 reports, it involved 15 crews, each with 328 men, which under favorable conditions could each lay a mile of pipe each day.
Newspaper accounts said the pipes — which were about 40 feet in length — were buried "in a trench 5.5 feet deep, which, with a pipe of 24 inches in diameter, will give a clearance of 3.5 feet. This clearance will be enough so as not to interfere with the raising of crops by farmers." In some locations the pipe was from eight to 16 feet below the surface.
The government paid a fixed amount per rod (16.5 feet) for right-of-way over private land and also assumed the cost of restoring the land surface and for damages during pipeline work.
Construction on the 857-mile eastern portion was completed July 15, 1943, although work continued on some of the pumping stations until Sept. 1.
War Emergency Pipelines Inc. had started preliminary work in Butler County in November 1942, and transmission of oil through Butler County began eight months later. The local segment was dedicated July 19, 1943.
The Big Inch entered Butler County west of Okeana and extended north of Millville and Hamilton. Today it passes through Hamilton, crossing Main Street (north of the Hamilton Meadows shopping complex), Eaton Avenue and Gordon Smith Blvd.
The pipeline continued near Trenton and south of Middletown into Warren County. Its route was through Harveysburg, south of Wilmington, north of Washington Court House, Circleville, Lancaster and Caldwell, exiting Ohio at Powhatan Point, south of Wheeling, W. Va.
A 1943 report said the price was $35 million for the eastern link through here, and that the pipeline was expected "to endure for a century."
Oil in the Big Inch took about 20 days to reach Pennsylvania, moving at four feet a second, or three miles an hour. There were about 3,100 barrels in a mile of pipeline.
In July 1943 it was announced that a second pipeline would be built through the county. The Little Inch — with pipes 20 inches in diameter — carried gasoline from Texas to the East.
It was completed in late November 1943, a few days after a 61-year-old Hamilton construction worker was crushed to death under a mile-length of welded pipe in a Nov. 17 accident eight miles west of Hamilton, near Ohio 129, at St. Charles.
A few days later, Dec. 2,1943, the Big Inch broke a mile north of Okeana near Dry Fork Creek and the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad trestle. About 3,000 barrels of oil, valued at $4,500, were lost and the pipeline flow stopped for two days.
Feb. 14, 1947, about a year and a half after the war ended, the War Assets Administration sold both pipelines to Texas Eastern Transmission Corp. for $143 million. Texas Eastern, which was among 13 bidders for the Big Inch and Little Inch, began operating the system May 1, 1947.
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Journal-News, Monday, Dec. 21, 1992
Christmas first real holiday during first year of World War II
By Jim Blount
"Christmas was different this year," noted a Journal-News editorial writer in December 1942 after Hamilton observed its first real holiday of the year.
For many workers in local war industries, Christmas Day, a snowless Friday, was their first holiday off. President Franklin D. Roosevelt said production could stop on Christmas after it had been work as usual on other 1942 holidays.
Typical of the holiday tone was a telegram received by employees at the Hamilton Tool Co., South Ninth and Hanover streets. It said "on this sacred day of our Lord, we, the soldiers on the firing line, give thanks to you soldiers on the production line for the sinews of war that make victory possible." It had been sent by Gen. Douglas Mac-Arthur, commander of U. S. forces in the South Pacific.
On the shopping front, Hamilton merchants had revised their store hours in November, opening and closing 30 minutes later. The new schedule was noon to 8:30 p.m. Mondays — "for the benefit of war workers" who couldn't shop during the day — and 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Merchants said the change was made "so that transportation can be equalized throughout the day — so that war workers may have ample transportation available when they go to and from their jobs . . . and so that shoppers, too, will have bus facilities when they need them."
Hamilton City Lines reported its buses "filled to capacity during many periods of the day" and urged shoppers to ride between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Missing in 1942 was outdoor Christmas lighting, including the traditional downtown display, a response to wartime appeals to conserve coal and electricity.
An addition to holiday tradition in December 1942 was the singing and playing of "White Christmas," called by Time magazine "the first big sentimental song hit of World War II." Baritone Bing Crosby sang Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" in "Holiday Inn," a movie musical released in August 1942.
The movie — billed as featuring 11 new Berlin tunes — was a box-office hit by the time it played the Paramount Theater in downtown Hamilton Sunday through Wednesday, Sept. 27-30. Paramount prices were 35 cents until 6 p.m., and then 40 cents for adults and 10 cents for children with servicemen admitted all day for 25 cents.
Sharing top billing with Berlin and Crosby were Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds, Virginia Dale and Walter Abel.
More than 600,000 "White Christmas" records had been sold by the end of November and it became the longest running song ever on "Your Hit Parade," a weekly radio show. More than a million copies of the sheet music were sold by the end of 1942.
By contrast, previous holidays in 1942 had been almost all work and no play because of the urgency of the work effort.
On Memorial Day, May 30, federal restrictions on bus, rail and air service had limited travel. There was no Hamilton parade, but the usual ceremonies were held at cemeteries.
July 4 the motto was "Let's Work, Not Celebrate" with even post office employees working that Saturday as the government promoted stay-at-home vacations.
The Journal-News said 1942 Labor Day "activities were curtailed as Hamilton labor for the most part devoted the holiday to the output of vital war materials."
In October, the annual Halloween masquerade parade in downtown Hamilton was canceled. In previous years streets had been blocked and traffic stopped between Second and Third streets along High Street and from Court to High streets on South Second and South Third streets.
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Journal-News, Monday, Dec. 28, 1992
Butler County has its share of towns bearing names of U. S. presidents
By Jim Blount
With the inauguration of Bill Clinton as the 42nd chief executive of the United States, six towns in Butler County will have borne presidential names.
Five were named for presidents Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson and Tyler. The vanished town of Clinton was named for a governor of New York.
When construction began on the 248-mile Miami-Erie Canal in 1815, the town of Clinton was located about six miles south of Middletown, near the present community of LeSourdsville.
Clinton was established as a canal construction center, named in honor of Gov. DeWitt Clinton of New York, father of the 363-mile Erie Canal in New York between Albany on the Hudson River and Buffalo on Lake Erie.
His speeches and lobbying had persuaded the New York legislature to invest in the $7 million waterway. Clinton was canal commissioner (1817-1822) when the Erie was planned and started, and governor (1824-1828) when the project was completed.
In July 1825, Gov. Clinton participated in the ceremonial ground breaking for the Miami-Erie Canal in Middletown.
A post office for canal workers was established at Clinton May 17, 1826, at the home of a Colonel Ayres. The post office closed Nov. 27, 1827, when construction crews relocated.
Jefferson — planned in Section 32 of Wayne Township, near Seven Mile — was platted April 15, 1806, by John Patter-son, but the town never materialized. It was named in honor of Thomas Jefferson.
Madison Township was the second presidential name adopted in Butler County. It was the ninth township formed in the county, authorized May 7, 1810, by Butler County commissioners, who took the land from Lemon Township.
Madison — who is considered both the "Father of the Constitution" and the "Father of the Bill of Rights" — was occupying the White House at the time. He served from March 1809 until March 1817.
Later, a town was named in his honor— Madison or Madison City also has been known as Heno and West Middletown.
The community in Madison Township west of Middletown and the Great Miami River was built in part in 1846 by John Munn and recorded May 20, 1854, as Madison City by John and William Walter. The name was rejected by postal officials because of an existing Madison, Ohio.
There also had been the Madison House, a tavern and stagecoach stop operated by John Munn. The town became a station on the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad when that line opened in 1851.
Jacksonburg was named for Andrew Jackson before he became president. The town — now on Ohio 744 in Wayne Township — was laid out in 1816 by Henry Weaver, John Baird and John Craig. It honored Jackson's military success during the War of 1812, especially his defense of New Orleans Jan. 8, 1915. "The Hero of New Orleans" was president from 1829 through 1837.
Jacksonburg became a major stop on the road between Cincinnati and Hamilton and Preble and Darke counties to the north. A post office opened June 29, 1818, as Jacksonboro. Later the spelling changed to Jacksonborough and now Jacksonburg.
Tylersville-— around LeSourdsyille-West Chester and Tylersville Road in Union Township — was laid out as a village in 1842 by Daniel Pocock.
The area — once known as Pug Muncy — was named after John Tyler, then in the White House. Tyler was the first vice president to succeed to the presidency (April 1841 to March 1845), taking office after the death of William Henry Harrison.
Monroe — which voters agreed to merge with Lemon Township in the November 1992 election — was founded in 1817 by John H. Piatt and Nathaniel Sackett and named for James Monroe, the fifth president who was inaugurated in March of that year.
Monroe was a midway stagecoach stop on a Cincinnati-Dayton line until the 1850s. Today it straddles 1-75, Cincinnati-Dayton Road (old U.S. 25) and Ohio 63 and extends east into Warren County.
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