Colorado Fuel and Iron: Culture and Industry in Southern Colorado

The Spirit of 1942

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, the United States committed itself to total war in order to defeat the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, Japan, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. Such a commitment required all of America's assets, including women’s time, talents and abilities. As men fought on battlefields abroad, many women fought on the home front working in factories and industrial plants, and for war related service organizations. Nearly 350,000 American women served in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs, later renamed the Women’s Army Corps), the Navy Women’s Reserve (WAVES), the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve, the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve (SPARS), the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASPS), Army Nurses Corps, and the Navy Nurse Corps. While in uniform, women worked in governmental offices, repaired airplanes, drove trucks, worked as laboratory technicians, analyzed photographs and many other duties.  Many other women remained civilians, considering themselves “citizen soldiers” doing what they could to assist governmental programs. Their volunteer service included organizing and working recycling drives, selling war bonds, and making life easier for those American heroes at home and abroad.

CF&I ramped up production to 104% of its normal tonnage between 1942 and 1945 and women certainly helped meet this goal. Thousands of miles of railroad tracks and parts, metal coils, shell casings, in addition to its regular catalog of products were produced at the Minnequa Plant in Pueblo. Employee dedication to the United States’ success during this time of crises earned the company four prestigious Army-Navy E Awards. These awards were given to only five percent of the country’s war production plants for quality and quantity of products needed during a time of national crisis, maintaining a low rate of absenteeism among employees, enforcement of fair labor standards, training of additional labor forces, and keeping exemplary records regarding number of accidents, health and sanitation, and plant protection. 


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