The Gypsum Files

Notes on the Rock Nobody Knows

Posts Tagged ‘US Gypsum

Building the American Dream

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I love these vintage films. This one captures the urgency and opportunity created by the post-World War II housing shortage and boom. It’s true, as the actors say, that house construction before the war was largely done by small contractors. Levittown and similar developments are examples of the dominance of large vertically-integrated construction companies that began in the 1950s and continues today — what the film-within-the-film calls “the dynamic catalyst.” Note how the narrator ties the explosion of suburban developments to the “pioneers” on the “prairie.”

The impact on the American landscape was enormous. From fewer than 200,000 new homes in 1945, housing starts grew to one million a year during the boom that started in 1948.  (By contrast, housing starts in 2009 were fewer than 600,000 and are just now breaking one million a year.)

And, of course — gypsum was there!

HT: USG on Facebook

Building the American Dream ca. 1956 – YouTube.


Written by Elizabeth McCullough

June 2, 2014 at 5:00 am

Gypsum history: “Midland Is Gone”

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Here’s a bit of history for those interested in company towns and ghost towns. This clip is from an article that appeared in the November 2, 1970 LA Times:


Midland was a U.S. Gypsum Co. town for 43 years, an isolated community 22 miles north of Blythe by narrow road. Midland produced plasterboard walls for thousands of homes across the nation.The gypsum deposit in Little Maria Mountains two miles west of town was one of the best.”But the character of the gypsum snow deposit in recent years made it no longer economically competitive,” reports Kenneth Hepler, former plant manager. “The snow at Midland was too heavy. Lighter material was needed for wallboard.”Midland was started in 1925 as a tent city, with miners in the middle of the Mojave Desert digging gypsum out of the Little Marias to meet the demands of movie studios. All the winter scenes during the golden age of Hollywood were filmed with “snowflakes” from Midland.

via Midland Is Gone.

Written by Elizabeth McCullough

September 28, 2013 at 10:50 pm

US Gypsum Plant, Shoals, Indiana, 1978

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Photo by Mike Fitzpatrick

Today I discovered a wonderful slide show of the US Gypsum mine and board plant in Shoals, Indiana. The photos date from 1978 — check out that Farrah Fawcett poster in the mine lounge! If you look at the photos individually, there are notes explaining the context.

I was still attending Shoals High School in 1978. Every year USG graciously hosted the local eighth grade class for a tour of the board plant, introducing them to the town’s largest industry.

Written by Elizabeth McCullough

May 5, 2010 at 8:49 pm

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