During WW2, when car production ceased but public transport needs soared, quite a few car carriers were converted to people carriers, like this Chevy COE rig.
People carrier? Exactly what kind of people were carried by Sunflower Ordnance Works?
My only guess would be the people who worked there, and that the government or the company provided this “bus” as a means of getting far-flung workers to the plant.
Looks like Sunflower was out in the country 10-20 miles from Kansas City and employed 10-12 thousand workers during WW2.
I know the Willow Run aircraft factory outside Detroit had similar busses.
Never heard of this particular war plant—thanks for the education today. Who knows which vehicles were used, but here’s one workers’ schedule:
Holy cow, that’s a 2+ hour ride from Atchison – which is about 60 mi. away from where it looks like the Sunflower plant was.
Hard to imagine working a long hard day in a stifling ammunition plant, and then having a two-hour ride home in this rig through the blazing sun on the prairie.
Eric703, I guess I didn’t look closely at the schedule–yikes! I’ll imagine plenty of workers at least tried to sleep on the bus.
Here’s September 1944, when many thought the European war would be over by Christmas:
Sunflower is still owned by the government, but has been inactive and abandoned for a long time. The barracks built for the workers were turned into a low-income development called Clearview City in the 1980s.
The picture looks like Topeka to me; could also be KCK. Good job of converting the trailer, with a bus-like appearance.
The buildings in the background look like Minnesota Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas, which was the city’s main commercial street then. A few miles away was Fairfax Airport where North American Aviation built the B-25 bomber. Both Sunflower and NAA suffered with employee shortages. There was a competition among the warplants for skilled workers.
Thanks for the unique photo, it clearly illustrates the great changes that WWII made on many aspects of our society in those years. The labor market changed drastically as so many men went into uniform, to be replaced by women in many cases. The housing market was under heavy strain, as people moved from different areas to where work was available only to find affordable housing was limited or unavailable. And as the employees of Sunflower Ordnance found out, their new job was far away and there was no public transportation; during the war years, not only was there a labor shortage, but with manufacturing turned to wartime production, it was difficult or impossible to expand public transportation. As fuel was rationed, this lead to car pooling if possible or employer provided transportation. At first I was stunned that people would be allowed to ride in a trailer, as it’s illegal today, but the needs of wartime production overshadowed the safety issues I guess.
In 1971 I made my first deployment with my Navy squadron to Sigonella, Sicily. Back then the barracks was about 15-20 from the working spaces, so no walking to work like at our home base. USUALLY, the squadron bus (a close twin to the Ford “ambulance” in MASH) would make regular runs between the barracks and the work spaces, but occasionally it would be tied up and we were relegated to a ride in one of these carriers which were dubbed “cattle cars”. If I remember correctly, there were benches on each side but the middle “aisle” was wide open…just an occasional roof support beam to ride on. Not too bad if all the passengers were male, but not at all useable for transporting a mixed crowd unless someone was really desperate.
This setup is actually still pretty common in Cuba. The embargo means that a big chunk of the public transportation for locals are trucks like these or retired Canadian school bus imports.
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