Re: Trona

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Posted by David A. Wright on January 20, 2004 at 11:25:18:

In Reply to: Trona posted by Will on January 19, 2004 at 16:53:41:

Though I live in the Owens Valley, I still work in Trona (17 years now) and maintain an apartment there. I lived in Trona itself only five years, when I first went to work there in January 1987. My wife lived in Trona 1957 to 1992, when we moved to Ridgecrest, then later Owens Valley.

Rumors of the company wanting to see Trona dry up and blow away has been around at least as long as I worked there. So far they seem unfounded.

Though Trona was in a state of decline when I began work there in 1987, the town business community was still relatively healthy. The movie theater still showed movies, Security Pacific Bank was open, Van Dyke still sold Fords, and the market was doing a good business and had both sides open (the other side of the market was a variety store). When North American Chemical bought out the Kerr-McGee interests in the valley and started downsizing, many people moved away to find work. At the same time, Ridgecrest was booming and many still employed moved there. Then San Bernardino County started shoving those on public assistance under the fringes of the county carpet, since Trona is on the line, and shut down the Sheriff station.

Houses burning down, according to what I hear, is a mix of frustrated property owners and bored kids. I know of at least one house burned down due to a meth lab. There are a lot of unemployed tweekers in Trona.

The primary reason a house burned is left behind is costs. Trona's houses were built by the company primarily in the '30s and '40s and were sided and roofed with asbestos. Costs to clean this now known hazardous waste would be prohibitive. Unfortunately, the county and the company is satisfied to leave it all simply as is.

My apartment is only a block away from my first house in Trona, which my wife lived in for years before we got married and took pride in it. We lived in it for two years after we got married and kept it in good shape and kept our yard clean. Now it is gutted and trashed. When I walk out of my apartment, my eyes are greeted by two burned down duplexes across the street and one next door. It's tough to spend four days at home in the Owens Valley greeted each morning by the Sierra peaks outside my bedroom windows, then to see the blight of Trona for four days each week.

I still have a soft spot for Trona, I contribute money from each paycheck to the Trona Community Chest. I buy from the Texaco and the market. But I doubt that Trona will return to its condition pre-1990, but I doubt it will be completely eliminated either.

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