Journal-News, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 1999
1945-1949: Years of quick readjustment
(This is the seventh in a 13-part series reviewing events of the 1900s in the Hamilton-Fairfield area. This installment covers 1945-1949, years of readjustment.)
By Jim Blount
One of the biggest stories of the 1945-1949 post-war era broke April 6, 1945 -- before Germany and Japan surrendered -- when General Motors announced it would build a Fisher Body plant east of Dixie Highway in Fairfield Township, just south of Hamilton.
Production at the 1.2 million square foot plant began in September 1946. Employment, which once reached 4,234 people, had dropped to about 2,500 when production ended at the plant 41 years later.
Other industrial relocations and expansions blessed the area through the 1945-1949 period, easing the transition for local men and women returning from the armed services and war-related duties.
Recalling difficult times after World War I, government leaders sought to avoid the unemployment, homelessness and hardships that hit millions of veterans of the 1917-1918 war.
In 1944, as war debts mounted, Congress approved a massive post-war spending measure. June 22, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Servicemen's Readjustment Act. The GI Bill of Rights -- its common name -- packaged a variety of veterans benefits, including monthly allowances, tuition and training payment, and mortgage subsidies.
The GI Bill aided more than veterans and their families. It fueled a boom in the local building industry -- when contractors could obtain scarce materials.
Colleges -- including Miami University in Oxford -- burgeoned with students who four or five years earlier wouldn't have considered higher education.
"The law that changed American society forever" was the subtitle of a 1997 PBS-TV assessment of the GI Bill. Another appraisal by HistoryNet said the "more than two million home loans created a new American landscape in the suburbs."
A severe housing shortage -- a byproduct of the 1930s Depression and 1940-1945 World War II building restrictions -- greeted veterans returning to Hamilton. There were 14,547 housing units in the city in 1940. In the first two full years of the war, 1942 and 1943, the city had granted building permits for only 209 housing units. In the final two years, 1944 and 1945, the total fell to 44 units.
The problem was so serious that a Hamilton Emergency Housing Commission was formed to oversee remodeling and construction of new residences. One local study said 400 new houses were needed, enough to fill 15 to 20 city blocks. The building rebound didn't start immediately. Materials posed an obstacle as the U. S. economy shifted from emphasis on war products to the needs of peace.
In mid 1946, to ease the situation, former Army barracks were transported by rail from Mississippi to Hamilton. They were rebuilt along South Avenue (now Knightsbridge Drive) in a complex known as Vets Village. The first two families moved in March 27, 1947.
Earlier that year, Hamilton's housing shortage was estimated at 1,300 units and increasing. During the 1945-1949 period, houses shot up in new subdivisions and older Hamilton neighborhoods, but never enough to meet the demand.
Between 1940 to 1950, Hamilton housing stock increased by 21.2 percent. Of the 3,090 units erected in that period, 72.5 percent (2,440) were built after 1946.
Housing also was a problem at Miami University where barracks from Fort Knox and double-deck beds on the floor of Withrow Court greeted incoming freshmen men, most of whom were there to take advantage of the GI Bill's education provisions.
Census data reflects the bill's long-term impact. In 1940, only 5.3 percent of 120,249 Butler County inhabitants had completed college. By 1960 -- when most World War II vets had finished their education -- 8.7 percent of a population of 199,027 had graduated.
After declining in the 1930s, Hamilton gained 7,358 residents during the 1940s. The 1940 census counted 50,592 inhabitants. Ten years later, there were 57,951, an increase of 7,358 people, or 14.5 percent. Butler County jumped from 120,249 in 1940 to 147,203 in 1950, a growth rate of 22.4 percent (26,954 people).
# # #
Journal-News, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 1999
1950-1959: Years of rapid area expansion
(This is the eighth in a 13-part series reviewing events of the 1900s in the Hamilton-Fairfield area. This installment covers 1950-1959, years of expansion.)
By Jim Blount
"Hamilton, Ohio, the Postmark of Distinctive Trademarks" was Hamilton's slogan through much of the 1950-1959 period. There was plenty of evidence to support that claim. For example, a 1957 railroad study reported 81 industries in Hamilton that required switching service for incoming materials and outgoing products.
Topping the Baltimore & Ohio list were American Cyanamid, Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corp., Beckett Paper, Champion Paper, Bendix Aviation, Black Clawson Co., Clearing Machine Corp., Pillsbury Mills, Leshner Corp., National Can Corp., Pease Woodworking, Mosler Safe and Whirlpool-Seeger Corp., formerly Estate Stove, plus Fisher Body in Fairfield and Armco Steel in New Miami.
Not included were small plants, including shops that relied on sub-contract work from the city's largest industries.
Hamilton's industrial prestige was highlighted Dec. 15, 1952, when President Harry Truman helped dedicate a new National Archives building in Washington, D. C. Unveiled was a Hamilton-built vault, manufactured by Mosler, to house and protect the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
In 1953 -- just before the end of the Korean War -- 20,680 people worked in Hamilton factories. A few years later, the chamber of commerce reported "over 125 manufacturers and fabricators employing nearly 20,000 people."
Indications of the city's industrial status included theoretical bombings of Hamilton in October 1952 and July 1956. In the latter exercise, Hamilton was one of 76 U. S. cities considered likely targets of Soviet Union bombers.
Thanks to healthy pay checks from local shops, downtown Hamilton enjoyed a retail boom. New store openings included W. T. Grant and J. C. Penney, both in 1954 on the site of the new government services building. West on High Street the Robinson-Schwenn Store completed remodeling, and Wilmurs Department Store launched an expansion. In 1954, plans were announced for the Hamilton Plaza Shopping Center on Dixie Highway. In 1958, Sears opened an enlarged store on South Second Street.
The next year, the area's first large shopping center (Tri-County) opened in Hamilton County, just south of Butler County.
As city population peaked at 72,354, builders were still struggling to meet the demand for new housing in Hamilton. The shortage of single-family residences and apartments went back to the World War II years of 1941-1945. A total of 5,124 housing units were added in the 1950s, a 29.1 percent increase from 17,637 to 22,761.
In 1954, some Hamilton leaders urged the annexation of much of Fairfield Township. But residents reacted quickly and the Village of Fairfield was created July 10, 1954, to foil Hamilton's expansion. Oct. 20, 1955, with 6,202 residents, it became the City of Fairfield. The new city's population jumped to 9,734 with 2,697 housing units in the 1960 census.
June 9, 1958, ground was broken east of Maud in Union Township for a portion of I-75 connecting Cincinnati and Dayton. The site was 10 miles east of Hamilton, despite federal assurances that every city of 50,000 or more people would be on the interstate system.
No one in Hamilton government objected at a November 1957 hearing when it was evident the interstate would bypass the city. Forty-two years later, the Butler County Regional Highway finally links Hamilton to I-75.
Another change came in 1959. Hamilton High School, with 1,899 students, closed in June. Two new high schools -- Garfield (1,007 enrollment) and Taft (878) -- opened in September. There was talk of building a third high school, possibly in the 1960s.
From 57,951 inhabitants in 1950, Hamilton shot up 24.9 percent (14,358) to peak at 72,354 people in the 1960 census. In the same time, county population went from 147,203 in 1950 to 199,027 in 1960, a 35.2 percent increase (51,824 people).
# # #
Journal-News, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 1999
1960-1969: Years of many changes in Hamilton-Fairfield area
(This is the ninth in a 13-part series reviewing events of the 1900s in the Hamilton-Fairfield area. This installment covers 1960-1969, years of many changes.)
By Jim Blount
The emergence of television news in the 1960s highlighted the civil rights movement, the war in Vietnam, anti-war demonstrations, assassinations, the race for space and Cold War events. Obviously, those developments impacted the Hamilton-Fairfield area in the 1960-1969 period. But off the TV screen -- although evident -- were many changes within the region.
It was a traumatic era for Hamilton -- a proud and prosperous industrial center for more than a century. Through the first 60 years of the century, the city rightfully boasted that it was the home of the world's largest coated paper mill, the world's largest machine tool shop and the world's largest concentration of safe and security manufacturers.
More than 125 large and small plants had employed in excess of 20,000 people in the 1950s -- before an industrial exodus eliminated, by various estimates, from 25 to 43 percent of the industrial jobs in the city.
The flight began in the late 1950s. By 1962, the list included Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton (formerly General Machinery); RCA-Whirlpool (formerly Estate Stove); Bendix Aviation (formerly Ford Motor Company); and Clearing Machine Corp.
Several factors influenced the loss -- corporate mergers, old buildings, worn out equipment, product changes, new technology and government Cold War defense policies that encouraged a dispersal of industries concentrated in cities.
"When things were good, we failed to look ahead," said Mayor Robert Westfall in 1962. "Now we have no (single) industrial site over eight acres when today a minimum need is for 25 acres." The mayor said only 14 acres were available in the city for industrial development.
Skeptics claimed Hamilton was becoming a ghost town, but they were wrong. There were positives for Hamilton in the 1960s. Land southeast of the city was annexed and utilities were installed, making it ready for a gradual influx of business. Because they lacked belching smokestacks, the new facilities in the 1,490-acre Asbury Tract (SOID) weren't as evident as those industries that had left Hamilton's older sections.
Smaller industrial tracts were created and some old factories gained new tenants. Downtown improvements included Center Punch, a renewal project that led to the opening of the Elder-Beerman Store in 1968 and construction of the county administrative center in 1976.
Also in the 1960s, a second municipal golf course, Twin Run, was developed; city swimming pools opened in the North End and Lindenwald; a new Columbia Bridge was built; the western end of Main Street was widened, leading to retail growth in that area; and land was cleared and new roadways were built to and from the west side of the High-Main Street Bridge, connecting it to Park and Ross avenues.
In 1966, Badin High School opened, a combination of Notre Dame and Hamilton Catholic high schools.
Until the late 1960s, when Hamiltonians thought of Miami University they thought of Oxford.
In 1966, the Ohio General Assembly appropriated $1.8 million to build a Miami campus in Hamilton. To secure the state money -- estimated at 75 percent of the cost -- the community had to raise $600,000. Instead, the goal was more than doubled as individuals, families, companies and civic groups contributed more than $1.56 million.
Ground was broken for Miami Hamilton June 20, 1967, and classes began in September 1968 while workers completed construction that had been prolonged by strikes. MUH was formally dedicated the next year, Sept. 26, 1969.
Also in 1969, Butler County commissioners spearheaded a renewed effort for an interstate-type road to link Hamilton with I-75 and I-71 to the west. A segment of the 11-plus miles of I-75 in Liberty and Union townships had opened July 31, 1960.
After peaking at 72,354 in 1960, Hamilton's population dropped by 6.2 percent (4,489) to 67,865 people in 1970. Only 189 housing units were added in the city during the 10-year period.
Fairfield had 6,202 citizens when incorporated in 1955, and 9,734 in the 1960 census. Ten years later, there were 14,680 people living in Fairfield -- a 136.7 percent increase in 15 years. By the 1970 census, there were 4,161 housing units in Fairfield, up 1,464 since the 1960 count of 2,697.
Overall, Butler County continued to grow, recording a 13.7 percent population jump -- a 27,180-person spurt from 199,027 in 1960 to 226,207 in 1970.
# # #
Journal-News, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 1999
1970-1979: Years of population growth and change
(This is the 10th in a 13-part series reviewing events of the 1900s in the Hamilton-Fairfield area. This installment covers 1970-1979, years of population growth.)
By Jim Blount
Statistics tell much of the story of the 1970-1979 period as Hamilton struggled to maintain jobs and its tax base while the City of Fairfield and Union and Liberty townships became major population centers in Butler County.
Hamilton's population decline continued in the 1970s, dropping 6.9 percent (4,676) from 67,865 people in 1970 to 63,189 in 1980. From a peak of 72,354 in 1960, the 20-year decline was 12.7 percent (9,165 people).
Fairfield population doubled in the 1970s -- from 14,680 people in 1970 to 30,707 in 1980. Its 109.7 percent increase was the highest in the county.
In the 1970s, Union Township experienced an 84.1 percent increase in population, from 12,795 people in 1970 to 23,553 in 1980. In the same span, neighboring Liberty Township jumped 74.2 percent, from 3,736 people to 6,508.
The Butler County total climbed 14.4 percent (32,580) from 226,207 to 258,787.
In housing, Hamilton realized a modest 8.7 percent increase, from 22,950 in 1970 to 24,951 in 1980. The greatest surge -- 171.9 percent -- was in Fairfield where the count went from 4,161 units in 1970 to 11,314 in 1980.
In the 1960s, a total of 1,482 housing units had been built in two southeastern townships; 1,286 in Union and 196 in Liberty. By 1970, there were 4,633 units in the two township. In the next 10 years, Union Township expanded from 3,626 units to 7,979, an increase of 120 percent. Liberty's growth was 108.7 percent, from 1,009 to 2,106.
In the 1970s, a total of 10,085 new households were added in the two townships in the Lakota School District.
The most memorable event of the 1970s, to many residents, was the 1978 blizzard. Overnight Jan. 25-26, about seven inches of snow fell on top of 14 inches already on the ground. The wind averaged 28 miles an hour with gusts up to 75 mph. The wintry combination produced drifts in the 12 to 15-foot range in some places. A 40-degree temperature drop preceded the storm. Melting snow and slush turned to ice as the thermometer hit 5 degrees with a wind-chill of minus 39.
Schools and businesses closed, mail deliveries were suspended, and emergency measures were necessary to get food, medicine and other essentials to the snowbound sick, disabled and elderly.
Snowfall for the winter totaled 47.3 inches, more than twice the annual average. It had been higher the previous winter, 1976-77. That year, the cumulative snowfall measured 53.9 inches. January 1977 is regarded as the coldest and snowiest month in the area's history.
On the Memorial Day weekend that year, a fire consumed the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate, Ky., killing 165 people, including more than 20 from Butler County.
In Fairfield, an Aug. 1, 1979, flood along Pleasant Run Creek caused more than $1 million in damage to more than 200 homes, arousing interest in a city flood-control plan.
For the area's young males, good news included the end of the draft. Local Selective Service boards sent their last men to the armed services in December 1972.
In September 1975, Hamilton opened a 555-car municipal parking garage along Market Street between North Third and North Second streets. Other downtown 1970s events included the opening of a new county jail in 1971 and completion of the county administrative center in 1976.
Elsewhere, historic preservation efforts led to creation of three historic districts in the city -- German Village, organized in 1973, and Rossville and Dayton Lane, both in 1975. The movement was responsible for reversing decline in those neighborhoods.
In Fairfield, Mercy Hospital opened its new 150-bed center in September 1978, supplementing its Hamilton operations which had started in 1892.
In 1972, some parts of Hamilton and Fairfield were introduced to cable television service on a modest scale.
# # #
Journal-News, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 1999
1980-1989: Years of dramatic progress in area
(This is the 11th in a 13-part series reviewing events of the 1900s in the Hamilton-Fairfield area. This installment covers 1980-1989, years of dramatic progress.)
By Jim Blount
Hamilton added much more than an exclamation point to its name in the 1980-1989 period. The punctuation mark -- adopted by city leaders in 1985 -- was the work of Stewart Jones, a Hamilton advertising executive who directed a city image campaign. By the end of the 1980s, the community had earned the exclamation mark with a series of dramatic improvements.
"I never thought I'd live to see this day" said many long-time residents as a solution neared for the city's No. 1 headache -- High Street traffic often stranded by numerous trains on two railroad mainlines. Only one block separated the at-grade crossings.
"At last! The Underpass" read a Sept. 24, 1981, Journal-News headline heralding ground breaking for the $15 million High Street Underpass, a structure proposed 62 years earlier. Sept. 13, 1983, part of the underpass opened. Feb. 14, 1984, the last train blocked traffic on High Street on the east edge of downtown Hamilton. The project was completed the next year.
The underpass was one of several Hamilton accomplishments during the 1980s.
Aug. 30, 1984, the Hamilton Airport became a public facility, owned jointly by Butler County and the cities of Hamilton and Fairfield.
Under continued private ownership, the 250-acre site faced the prospect of closing as an airport and the land being sold for other uses. Local government control also eased the way for obtaining state and federal assistance for airport operation and safety improvements.
Dec. 31, 1985, the six-story 120-room Hamiltonian Hotel opened -- 21 years after the Anthony Wayne ceased to be a hotel. The $6.4 million structure climaxed a 20-year campaign to provide downtown Hamilton with a first-class hotel with appropriate related services.
April 29, 1988, ground was broken for the low-level dam in the Great Miami River, opposite Miami's Hamilton Campus. Work was completed late in 1989. Three years earlier, city council had authorized funding for the long-discussed project. In a March 1988 referendum election, Hamilton voters, by a 2-1 margin, favored the river improvement.
In 1980, Hamilton returned to one public high school. Taft and Garfield, opened in 1959, consolidated as Hamilton High School at the Taft site. The Job Development Center, adjacent Hamilton High School, greeted students for the first time in September 1985.
In February 1980, construction started at the $450 million Miller Brewery near Trenton. The plant was finished by September 1981, but beer production didn't begin until 10 years later.
In 1984, Cincinnati Financial Corp. broke ground for its $27 million home office on Gilmore Road near I-275 in Fairfield.
A setback for Fairfield and the entire area came in November 1986 when General Motors announced a corporate belt-tightening that included closing the Fisher Body Plant on Dixie Highway. Opened in 1947, it had once employed as many as 4,234 people. When production stopped Aug. 31, 1987, there were 2,500 employees. The last GM workers left the plant Dec. 22, 1989.
The area's 911 emergency call system went into operation Aug. 17, 1988.
Hamilton population dropped again during the 1980s. In the 1980 census Hamilton had 63,189 inhabitants. By 1990, the total was 61,368, a loss of 1,821 or 2.9 percent.
Fairfield experienced a 29.1 percent population climb (8,952) -- from 30,777 in 1980 to 39,729 in 1990. Rapid industrial and commercial development in Fairfield during the 1980s lessened the impact of Fisher Body closing.
In the 10-year span, Union Township numbers jumped from 23,533 people to 39,703 as residential growth shared the spotlight with commercial and industrial expansion in the area. Neighboring Liberty Township went from 6,508 people in 1980 to 9,249 in 1990.
Overall, Butler County population swelled from 258,787 in 1980 to 291,479 in 1990, an increase of 32,692 or 12.6 percent.
# # #
Journal-News, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 1999
1990-1999: Years of continued progress in area
(This is the 12th in a 13-part series reviewing events of the 1900s in the Hamilton-Fairfield area. This installment covers 1990-1999, years of continued progress.)
By Jim Blount
State and regional leaders discovered during the 1990s what residents have known for a lifetime -- that life exists outside the I-275 circle around Cincinnati. People, businesses and institutions continue to move into Butler County as the 1990-1999 period ends.
By mid 1999, Butler County population was estimated at more than 330,400 -- or about 13 percent higher than the 291,479 people in the 1990 census. In numbers, Butler ranks second in growth among Ohio's 88 counties.
"Like Cincinnati, Hamilton County is bleeding away its wealth, as higher-income earners migrate beyond the I-275 beltway," noted a Cincinnati editorial writer. In 1995, Money Magazine declared the Hamilton⁄Middletown area (Butler County) the most livable area in Ohio. It was one of several plaudits for the area in the 1990s.
Once dominated by heavy industry, the county's largest employers now include local governments, school systems, Miami University, insurance companies and health care organizations while the number of retail and service businesses continue to expand. Paralleling the county's growth have been dramatic transportation changes.
The Butler County Regional Highway -- nearly 40 years in the talking stage -- is expected to open this year. The 10.7-mile four-lane divided road running east from Hamilton through Fairfield and Liberty townships to I-75 was built by the Butler County Transportation Improvement District. TID was created by the Ohio General Assembly in 1994 to include the cities of Fairfield and Hamilton and Fairfield, Liberty and Union townships, plus Butler County government.
In 1997, TID completed the Union Centre Blvd. interchange on I-75 and in 1998 opened a missing link of Muhlhauser Road between Union Centre in Union Township and Ohio 4 in Fairfield. Projects on the TID drawing board include improvements along Ohio 747 and connection of Symmes Road to the Union Centre interchange.
Bus service returned in May 1999, three years after the Hamilton system ceased operation. The Butler County Transit Authority started with routes in Hamilton and Fairfield.
Hamilton observed its bicentennial in 1991. The city's birthday gift -- the $4 million privately-funded Fitton Center for Creative Arts -- opened Nov. 27, 1992. Another cultural addition came in April 1997. That was the opening of the outdoor Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum, created by Harry T. Wilks.
This year, the first occupants moved into the $35.7 million, 11-story Government Services Center on High Street at Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Scheduled to open in 2000 is the adjacent seven-story One Renaissance Center, an office complex whose tenants will include the City of Hamilton. Also new in downtown Hamilton is the Streetscape project.
In 1996 Hamilton acquired and in 1999 began to develop the 263-acre Lewis Farm between the airport, the Butler County Regional Highway and Ohio 4 Bypass. The commercial and industrial site has been renamed Hamilton Enterprise Park. Development also has continued in the West Main Street area of Hamilton.
Downtown Fairfield moved toward reality with planning and initial development in 1998 and 1999 of Village Green, a residential and commercial complex west of Pleasant Avenue at Wessel Drive.
July 4, 1997, the $2.1 million Fairfield Aquatic Center was dedicated. In September 1997 a $25.6 million, 315,000-square-foot Fairfield High School greeted students for the first time. Also in 1997, Lakota High School split with the opening of two new buildings, Lakota East and Lakota West. The schools -- designed for 1,800 students each -- cost a total of $52 million.
In 1997, thanks to local philanthropists, Miami University Hamilton opened Schwarm Hall and the Harry T. Wilks Conference Center, parts of a $10 million campus expansion.
In December 1991, Armco Steel closed its New Miami plant. Its idle blast furnaces were demolished in March 1994. Armco Steel in Middletown was spun off as AK Steel in 1994. In May 1999, AK announced it was acquiring Armco, its former parent company.
In April 1992, after more than 100 years of operation in the city, Mosler ended production in its Hamilton factory. In October 1997, Champion International Corp. announced its intent to sell its Hamilton plant which opened in April 1894. In 1999, Ohio Casualty Group, founded in the city in 1919, began its move from downtown Hamilton to Seward Road in Fairfield. Meanwhile, numerous small companies are finding homes in Butler County.
# # #
Journal-News, Sunday, Oct. 24, 1999
1946-1990: The decades of the Cold War
(This is the last in a 13-part series reviewing events of the 1900s in the Hamilton-Fairfield area. This installment covers the Cold War period, 1946-1990.)
By Jim Blount
Iron curtain, brinkmanship, domino theory, occupation zone, 38th parallel, containment, Berlin Wall, NATO, space walk, demilitarized zone (DMZ), fallout shelter, missile gap, moon landing, Bay of Pigs, U-2, NASA, Kent State, disarmament and d?tente. Those are just a few terms added to our language during the last half of the 1900s. All had special meaning during the 44-year Cold War.
The conflict -- in which neither the United States nor the Soviet Union actually declared war on each other -- affected every aspect of life in Butler County until the collapse of communism in Europe in 1989.
For some, the Cold War meant school drills in which you crawled under your desk on your knees, leaned forward and placed your head between your legs and covered your head with your hands. Some families built fallout shelters in their yards.
Others took notice of sturdy buildings with the yellow and black signs that designated them bomb or fallout shelters. Locating protective sites gained urgency in October 1962 when Cuba had Soviet-built missiles aimed at U. S. cities.
For men and women involved in the Korean War (1950-1953) and the Vietnam War (1964-1975), it wasn't a Cold War. For some it was deadly -- 50 Butler Countians died in Korea and 81 in Vietnam.
Some scholars trace the start of the Cold War to the last months of World War II, when ideological differences erupted between the Soviet Union and the United States. In 1946, the term Cold War surfaced for the first time, and Winston Churchill warned of the "iron curtain" descending over Eastern Europe. Two years later, American airmen had to fly over that barrier during the successful Berlin Airlift.
For most Americans, the eye-opener was the September 1949 disclosure that the Soviets had tested an atomic bomb. That started an arms race that evolved into a nuclear race and then into a space race, the latter sparked by the Russian launch of Sputnik Oct. 4, 1957.
Sputnik reverberated through every local school system as the federal government poured money into math and science instruction as part of a catch-up program.
In February 1960, missiles came to Butler County. They were placed in underground silos two miles west of Oxford. Until 1970, the Oxford missile base was one of four anti-aircraft artillery facilities surrounding the Cincinnati region.
In the 1950s, a local firm, Mosler, subjected its products to nuclear tests in Nevada. That led to government orders for the company, supplementing its traditional bank security business.
In 1959, 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 door and frame weighed about 137 tons. Mosler also produced blast-resistant doors and other installations for the defense department and nuclear power plants. In addition, it participated in building secure retreats for government leaders in case of nuclear attack.
The Cold War extended the life of a unique radio complex that had been erected in rural Union Township during World War II. The Voice of America was built in 1943 to combat Hitler propaganda in European nations overrun by the Germans.
During the Cold War, VOA sent a variety of programs from as many as 22 transmitters on 625 acres north of Tylersville Road to more than 130 million people around the world each week. In 1991 VOA broadcast in 45 languages.
With the Cold War ended, federal budget cutters chopped funding for the Union Township facility. After 51 years, it closed Nov. 14, 1994.
The area's most publicized Cold War site was Fernald, the common name for the Feed Materials Production Center. Built by the Atomic Energy Commission to refine uranium, Fernald started operations in October 1951, well before the October 1954 completion of the plant, which was only partially in Butler County.
Fernald employment peaked at more than 2,800 people in the 1950s. Uranium production continued until July 1989, four months before the Berlin Wall was torn down.
The Cold War officially ended Nov. 19, 1990, when President George Bush joined Mikhail Gorbachev and other leaders in signing the Charter of Paris. There were no local celebrations or parades as the longest American war of the 1900s concluded.
# # #
Journal-News, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 1999
Butler County's 'extra' volunteers helped complete Missouri regiment
By Jim Blount
Moses Klein returned to Hamilton with honor during August 1861, his three-month term in the First Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment completed. In April, when the Civil War erupted, German-born Klein had left Hamilton as a second lieutenant in Captain John Bruck's Jackson Guards. The 37-year-old Hamilton resident had risked his life for his adopted nation in the Battle of Bull Run in Virginia, near Washington, D. C.
Like many other Butler County men who had answered the initial call, Klein volunteered again -- for three years. This time, with the rank of captain, Klein organized his own company, dominated by men of German ancestry.
Ohio had raised more than its quota of troops and there was no authorized Buckeye unit for Klein's 60 volunteers to join in late August or early September 1861.
Because Missouri had not filled its quota, Klein's men and other Ohio-raised companies were sent to St. Louis to become part of a resurrected 13th Missouri Volunteer Infantry Regiment. The Butler Countians joined Company H of the 13th.
(There had been an earlier 13th Missouri that reorganized as the 25th Missouri. Later, Klein's men became part of the 22nd Ohio, which had no connection to a previous regiment labeled the 22nd.)
In November 1861, the new 13th Missouri assembled and trained at Benton Barracks, near St. Louis. Its training was under the supervision of Brigadier-General William T. Sherman.
In a Dec. 26 report, Sherman pronounced the regiment -- commanded by an Ohioan, Colonel Crafts J. Wright -- armed with Austrian muskets and ready for the field. The 886-man regiment was assigned to the District of Cairo, which was under the command of Brigadier-General Ulysses S. Grant, then an unknown and unproven leader.
The 13th saw its first action in February 1862 as Grant initiated a move aimed at opening invasion routes along the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers -- waterways that cut into the heart of the Confederacy.
The 13th missed the Feb. 6 attack that led to the capture of Fort Henry on the Tennessee River at the Kentucky-Tennessee border. The regiment arrived two days later -- in time for the offensive against Fort Donelson, 12 miles away on the Cumberland River. (Both were on a neck of land known later as the Land Between the Lakes.)
Feb. 13 the 13th Missouri marched 10 miles to within a mile and a half of Fort Donelson, but it wasn't involved in the fighting. Instead, the Ohioans received an initiation into the rigors of soldiering -- particularly a winter siege operation.
An officer described that night as "a long and weary night of watching, the men being unprovided with tents or blankets and our immediate proximity to the enemy's works and batteries precluding the possibility of building fires, knowing that the light would draw fire."
The next night was no better. Colonel Wright said his regiment "remained in this position without fires during the storm of rain, hail and snow. The clothes of the men were drenched and frozen upon them."
Relief came Sunday morning, Feb. 15, 1862, when the Confederates remaining at Fort Donelson surrendered. It was during the process that Grant, through his tough dealings with Confederate commanders, earned the nickname "Unconditional Surrender" Grant.
Less than a month later, the 13th Missouri would be actively involved in another major battle of the four-year Civil War -- and win praise for their brave actions.
# # #