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February

392. Feb. 7, 1996 - A Colorado senator from Hamilton:
Journal-News, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 1996
 
Eugene Millikin, Colorado senator,
born and educated in Hamilton
 
By Jim Blount
 
Congresswoman Pat Schroeder -- who has decided not to seek re-election after nearly a quarter century in the House of Representatives -- is not the only former Hamiltonian to represent Colorado in the U. S. Congress. Eugene D. Millikin served the Centennial State in the U. S. Senate for more than 15 years.
 
Millikin -- who was born Feb. 12, 1891, in a house in the 600 block of Maple Avenue in Hamilton -- served from Dec. 20, 1941, less than two weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, until Jan. 3, 1957, nine months before the Soviet Union launched Sputnik.
 
He was a descendant of Samuel Millikin, who moved from Pennsylvania to Hamilton in May 1807 with his brothers, Dan and Robert. The future senator was a son of Samuel Hunter Millikin (a dentist) and Mary Schelly Millikin. His mother died when he was four. His father died in 1928.
 
Eugene Donald Millikin was a 1910 graduate of Hamilton High School, where he played football, managed the baseball team and participated in glee club and student council.
 
At age 19, he enrolled in the University of Colorado. After graduation in 1913, he practiced law briefly in Salt Lake City, Utah, before returning to Colorado. There, the young lawyer assumed active roles in Republican politics.
 
Millikin managed the successful gubernatorial campaign of George A. Carlson and was the governor's executive secretary from 1915 to 1917.
 
When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Millikin joined the Colorado National Guard as a private. After war service in France and occupation duty in Germany, he left the army in 1919 as a lieutenant colonel.
 
In Denver, he joined Karl C. Schuyler in a law practice that specialized in cases involving irrigation, mining and oil. Millikin also became president of an oil company while continuing to serve the GOP and its candidates.
 
Schuyler was elected to the U. S. Senate in 1932, with Millikin as campaign manager. Millikin also served as an unpaid assistant to Schuyler until his death July 31, 1933..
 
When Sen. Alva B. Adams died in 1941, Millikin was named his replacement until the next election. He was appointed by Gov. Ralph Carr, a college friend. Although a successful lawyer, businessman and party activist in the state for two decades, Colorado newspapers didn't have Millikin's picture in their files when he was appointed.
 
In 1942, Millikin won 57 percent of the vote in the election for the unexpired term. He was re-elected to six-year terms in 1944 and 1950.
 
White House occupants during Millikin's 15-plus years in the Senate were Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
 
In Washington, he soon earned the title "Mr. Conservative." His Senate allies included Ohio's Robert A. Taft and Michigan's Arthur H. Vandenburg. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Millikin was regarded as "the financial genius of the Senate." Spending, taxes, a balanced budget and protectionist trade policies were his favorite causes. He was a key figure in passing a 1948 tax cut over President Truman's veto.
 
Millikin declined an opportunity to become secretary of the treasury in the Eisenhower administration.
 
Millikin served in the Senate through World War II and the first decade of the Cold War. He supported the United Nations Charter, the Marshall Plan and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
 
"I have never lost my love for the old hometown," the Hamilton native said in 1956 as he prepared to retire from the Senate. Millikin died in Denver July 26, 1958.
 
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393. Feb. 14, 1996 - Mosler product protects U. S. gold at Fort Knox: (Mosler announced it would end production at its Hamilton plant April 2, 1996.) First of three parts.
 
Journal-News, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 1996
 
Hamilton-made vault protects U. S. gold stored at Fort Knox
 
(Editor's Note: This is the first in a three-part series highlighting historic contributions of the Mosler Safe Company, which is scheduled to end production at its 104-year-old Grand Boulevard plant in Hamilton April 2.)
 
By Jim Blount
 
For nearly 60 years, a Hamilton-made vault has protected much of the nation's gold stored in the United States bullion depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
 
The Mosler Safe Company of Hamilton shipped the depository vault doors in June 1936. The Fort Knox facility, which cost $560,000, was completed in December 1936. The next month, the first gold shipment arrived at the site about 30 miles southwest of Louisville.
 
Mosler's idle employees in Hamilton welcomed the Fort Knox order. The company had suffered in the early years of the Great Depression. In 1933, Mosler received only two bank orders -- one each from Japan and China.
 
That year the American banking system was in crisis. More than 5,500 U. S. banks, with deposits exceeding $3.4 billion, had closed before Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in March 1933. One of FDR's first acts was declaration of a "bank holiday" from March 6 until March 9. Congress rushed action on new national banking regulations which permitted 75 percent of the banks to reopen, most within a week.
 
As banks recovered, Mosler's regular business gradually revived, supplemented by the government's order for the Fort Knox vault doors.
 
For obvious security reasons, some details of the Fort Knox depository have never been revealed. Mosler sources reported the main vault door as weighing 20 tons and 21 inches thick with seven laminations of "the latest tool and torch resisting materials" which "are interlayed with cast and open hearth steel."
 
The two-level steel and concrete vault weighs nearly 30 tons, according to the Bureau of the Mint. "The vault casing is constructed of steel plates, steel I-beams and steel cylinders laced with hoop bands and encased in concrete. The vault roof is of similar construction and is independent of the depository roof," noted a Mint press release.
 
The Mosler vault is housed in what the Mint describes as a 105x121-foot "two-story basement and attic building of granite, steel and concrete."
 
The Mint said "no one person is entrusted with the combination" to the vault. "Various members of the depository staff must dial separately combinations known only to them."
 
Where was the nation's gold stored before Fort Knox was built? It wasn't.
 
Presidential edicts and legislation passed by Congress in 1933 and 1934 -- aimed at stabilizing the Depression-crippled economy -- changed the nation's monetary system, which had been based on gold coin currency. Between 1795 and 1933, the Mint had struck and circulated gold coins worth more than $4.5 billion.
 
The Gold Standard Act of 1900 had made the gold dollar the standard unit of value in the United States. By the start of World War I in 1914, European nations followed the same standard. The complications of war weakened the system and Britain abandoned the gold standard in 1931 because of the worldwide Depression.
 
Legislative and executive action led to the dismantling of the gold standard in the U. S. in 1933. In April, President Roosevelt placed an embargo on gold shipments. In June, the treasury recalled gold and gold certificates, and Congress ended the payment of debts, both public and private, in gold.
 
At FDR's request, Congress enacted the Gold Reserve Act in January 1934. In nationalizing gold, it ordered Federal Reserve banks to turn in their gold supplies to the Treasury.
 
Under these controversial measures, it became a criminal offense for Americans to own or hold gold coins, gold certificates and gold bullion. The right of citizens to demand gold in exchange for paper money was abolished.
 
When the coins were melted, the Mint needed a place to store its hoard of 400-ounce gold bars. That led to the building of the federal depository at Fort Knox.
 
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394. Feb. 21, 1996 - Mosler safe protects U. S. documents: (Second of three parts.)
 
Journal-News, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 1996
 
Mosler safe protects precious
U. S. documents in Archives
 
(Editor's Note: This is the second in a three-part series highlighting historic contributions of the Mosler Safe Company, which is scheduled to end production at its 104-year-old Grand Boulevard plant in Hamilton April 2.)
 
By Jim Blount
 
America's precious documents are "as safe from destruction as anything that the wit of modern man could devise" said President Harry Truman as the National Archives dedicated a new building in Washington, D. C., Dec. 15, 1952.
 
A Mosler safe protects the nation's three "Charters of Freedom" -- the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights -- which went on display that day in the exhibition hall in the archives building.
 
"Working under the tremendous pressure of a December deadline," a company history noted, "Mosler engineers, technicians and machinists labored around the clock to design and build" the vault for the National Archives. During visiting hours, the documents are shown "in a glass case resting in a marble altar," explained a publication Mosler produced for the dedication.
 
"At night, and in case of emergency, a button is pressed and the case descends slowly through the floor. An elevator gently lowers it into a 50-ton safe. As the precious burden settles, huge five-ton doors swing shut, lock and safeguard the documents," said the booklet.
 
The Hamilton-built vault -- constructed of steel and reinforced concrete -- was designed to be fireproof, shockproof and bombproof. That last safeguard was a major consideration in the early 1950s because of increasing tensions in the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. The conflict had begun shortly after World War II, with the rapid expansion of Soviet influence over Eastern Europe.
 
The nuclear arms race had started in 1949, when the Soviets exploded their first atomic bomb, ending a four-year U. S. advantage. The U. S. detonated its first hydrogen bomb in November 1952, nine months before the Soviet tested their first super bomb.
 
In June 1950, with apparent Soviet backing, the Korean War had started when Communist North Korea invaded U. S.-supported South Korea. After initial success, Americans fighting under the United Nations flag were pushed back when neighboring Communist China reinforced North Korea.
 
The decision to consolidate the collection of historic U. S. documents and protect them from destruction from nuclear destruction was made in the context of these Cold War events.
 
When the National Archives building was dedicated Dec. 15, 1952, the Korean War was stalemated, Joseph Stalin still ruled in the Soviet Union and President Truman was within weeks of turning over the nation's leadership to President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower.
 
By 1952, the documents protected by the Mosler security system also were threatened by decades of frequent movements and poor care.
 
The Declaration of Independence, written in 1776 in Philadelphia, moved often in its early years as the Continental Congress shifted its meeting sites to avoid British capture during the American Revolution.
 
The Constitution, drafted in 1787 in Philadelphia, and the Bill of Rights, adopted in 1791 in Philadelphia, also traveled as the nation's capital switched from New York to Philadelphia and finally to Washington, D. C., in 1800.
 
By 1950, the Declaration was the most fragile of the three documents, the result of improper handling and exposure from 1841 until 1894. During this period, said a National Archives report, it was displayed "with little concern about the likelihood of its fading."
 
The report said "for the first 35 years of this period, it hung in the Patent Office Building in Washington, opposite a window and exposed to sunlight; it was the shown in Philadelphia at the centennial of its signing; and soon after that it was displayed in the new State, War and Navy Building in Washington." That building burned soon after the document was removed and stored.
 
Before being placed in the Mosler-built protection system in 1952, the Declaration was sealed in a helium-filled display case with filtered glass to prevent further damage.
 
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395. Feb. 28, 1996 - Mosler work passed nuclear tests:  (Last of three parts.)
 
Journal-News, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 1996
Mosler products passed nuclear tests, provided shields during Cold War
 
(Editor's Note: This is the last in a three-part series highlighting historic contributions of the Mosler Safe Company, which is scheduled to end production at its 104-year-old Grand Boulevard plant in Hamilton April 2.)
 
By Jim Blount
 
An unsolicited letter arrived at the Mosler Safe Company office on Grand Boulevard in 1950, proclaiming "the superiority of your goods are completely verified" and "admired for being stronger than the atomic bomb."
 
It wasn't an idle boast. The writer knew what he was talking about. He was the manager of the recently re-opened Hiroshima branch of the Teikoku Bank, formerly the Mitsui Bank.
 
He explained that vault doors from Mosler's Hamilton plant had been placed in the bank's new building in 1925. It was there Aug. 6, 1945, when a U. S. plane dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima in the final days of World War II.
 
The blast destroyed the bank building, the banker wrote, but "it was our great luck to find that though the surface of the vault doors were heavily damaged, its contents were not affected at all and the cash and important documents were perfectly saved."
 
"Recently many tourists from the United States and other foreign countries have come to see our building and when we show them your vault, we proudly explain to them how strong they were against the atomic explosion," said the banker's letter, dated May 22, 1950.
 
Ironically, Mosler was one of several area industries which contributed to the Manhattan Project, the urgent U. S. wartime mission to develop the first atomic bomb.
 
As early as 1938, Mosler had joined the American Rolling Mill Company (later Armco, now AK Steel) in producing large steel castings (the largest 406,550 pounds) for atomic research. The huge magnets -- termed cyclotrons, or atom smashers -- went to Ohio State University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California and Westinghouse Electric.
 
Mosler earned the job of milling the cyclotron castings because of its experience in accurately machining and polishing large steel vault doors, including those which have guarded the nation's gold reserves at Fort Knox since 1937.
 
U. S. atomic experiments in the early stages of the Cold War in the 1950s also tested the strength and effectiveness of Mosler products.
 
Mosler engineers at Yucca Flats, Nevada, in 1955 placed 25 document and money safes at varying distances from ground zero of a nuclear explosion. Most of the Mosler devices suffered little damage, but Edwin Mosler Jr., the company president, admitted in a speech that "the closest ones went around the world in a cloud of dust."
 
In "Operation Plumb-Bob," a 1957 test, a Mosler Century steel vault door and concrete vault and its contests withstood the blast. They resisted pressures of 48 tons per square foot. A Mosler publication said "the combination dial and mechanism were intact and worked perfectly," and "measuring devices inside recorded no increase in temperature."
 
Idle curiosity wasn't the reason for subjecting American industrial products to atomic explosions. It was a practical exercise. For Mosler, it meant government orders which supplemented its traditional bank security products.
 
In 1959, for example, Mosler designed and built "the largest and heaviest hinged shielding doors in the world" for the Atomic Energy Commission's Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The five-foot thick doors covered an 11x15-foot opening. The door and frame weighed about 137 tons. Although each leaf was about 58 tons, the door could be opened and shut manually by one person.
 
Another steady customer for blast-resistant doors was the defense department, which required them at military installations.
 
Smaller doors also were produced for other nuclear facilities, including power plants. In the 1970s, the Tennessee Valley Authority ordered 120 Mosler doors for nuclear power plants. The tornado-proof doors had been mandated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in areas subject to such storms.
 
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