Title: Darby Corporation
Description: Postcard of the Darby Corporation, U.S. Navy Ship builders
Historical Article: `The Darby Corporation built and launched an ocean-going vessel a day for the U.S. Navy during World War II. Two thousand ships were built and went down the ways at the confluence of the Missouri and Kaw Rivers, and made the 1,000-mile trip to the Gulf of Mexico, where they were sent in convoys to points all over the world.
After the war Harry Darby told the story of a crisis early in January 1944. It is recounted in City of The Future by Haskell and Fowler.
Sixty barges built in Greater Kansas City and Leavenworth were tied up at Darby's docks by low water. Navy officials in Washington were frantic at the delay.
The admirals looked at the map, saw Ft. Peck dam far up the river in Montana and ordered the water released. The water soaked along its way to K.C. but when it finally arrived the net effect on the river was 1 inch.
The screams were heard all the way from Washington. Then came the grotesque order to put the big ocean-going ships on wheels. The L.C.T.s were wider than the highway, but wheels were provided. On second thought it occurred to local naval officers that they couldn't get through the bridge structures (because the barges were wider than the bridges). To that the high command responded with the order to cut off the bridge structures, tear out bridges and build temporary replacements, if necessary. Anything! Move the barges. Somebody was in a whale of a rush over something.
As former highway commissioner of Kansas, Darby couldn't help thinking of the wreckage on Missouri's fine highway. But there was no time to brood. The Navy made its plan to destroy the bridges.
Just one day before the demolition was to start, clouds rolled out of the west and the rains came. The river rose 4 feet almost overnight. Wheels were jerked away and the barges slid into the water...
The following June 6 the reason for the frantic orders became clear. Over early morning radios came the news that it was D-Day. Midwestern barges were hitting the beaches of Normandy. Such was the intimate participation of Kansas City's home front in World War II.
Three times during the war the Darby Corporation and the men and women employees were awarded the E flag of three stars, the highest award given by the Army and Navy for war production effort.
Kansas City Times
July 13, 1974
Author: Ray, Mrs. Sam (Mildred)
Item Type: Postcard
Collection: Mrs. Sam Ray Postcard Collection (SC58)
See finding aid: http://localhistory.kclibrary.org/u?/Local,36981
Local Subject: Darby, Harry; Businesses; Darby Corporation
Digital Format: JPEG
Repository: Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri
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