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Naval Supply Depot (NSD) Clearfield

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This page was last updated on January 24, 2015.

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(This is a work in progress; research continues.)

Overview

The following comes from some sparse notes taken in 1980 during an informal review of the NSD Clearfield newspaper.

USN 65-00256 is shown in a photo dated July 4, 1958; caption says it is one of three locomotives assigned to NSD Clearfield. 

USN 65-00181 is shown in a photo dated September 26, 1958. 

Information about NSD Clearfield, from the December 27, 1957 issue of that same base newspaper: 

  • NSD Clearfield was dedicated on April 10, 1943
  • 841 acres, 68 storehouses, 110 buildings
  • 40 miles of railroad track
  • Construction began in June 1942, and was completed in April 1943
  • Six railroad locomotives
  • Peak operations were during WWII, with 4,108 carloads
  • Two large 300,000 gallon wooden water tanks were replaced by a single 200,000 steel water tank in February 1959. 

NSD Clearfield was closed in 1962 and is today known as Clearfield Freeport Center, a large commercial manufacturing and warehousing facility.

Utah was the home of at least six other very large military facilities, for all branches of the military. It was (and still is) the hub of cross-country rail lines and highways. It also helped that its politians were very well placed in the Democratic power structure.

Timeline

(Unless noted, the following information is taken from the history of NSD Clearfield at MarineBarracks.com)

1942
Early in 1942 following the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor it became evident to the Navy that it would need to vastly expand its logistical support network in order to successfully prosecute its wartime campaign against Japan. To do this the Navy would require substantial new warehouse space to be created somewhere in the American West where it would be accessible to major transportation nodes and be out of the reach of enemy air attack.

April 11, 1942
The Navy evaluated several siites before settling on a location in Clearfield, Utah, which was approved by the Secretary of the Navy.

May 26, 1942
The Secretary of the Navy received the approval of President Roosevelt to build a facility at Clearfield, Utah.

June 13, 1942
Judge Tillman D. Johnson granted title and immediate possession of the desired real estate to the Navy during condemnation proceedings which were held in Federal Court in Ogden, Utah. Construction activity shortly followed, but no formal ground breaking ceremonies were held due to reasons of wartime security.

Construction was commenced under a contract which planned for the building of a total of forty-eight storehouses, each 200 feet x 600 feet. These warehouse facilities were intended for general storage of naval parts, stores and equipment to support naval ships, airplanes and personnel. The initial contract allocated funds in the amount of $33.6 million for the construction of the depot. Construction efforts moved ahead swiftly despite shortages of manpower and construction material. With the nation on a war footing the construction of NSD Clearfield had to compete with other urgent wartime requirements and activities.

The construction effort took 10 months, 22 days. When completed in April 1943 the following feats of construction had been accomplished:

September 4, 1942
Commander Harry Hines arrived at Clearfield, Utah as Supply Officer in Command.

November 22, 1942
The Administration building was made available for use of Commander Hines and his growing staff, which included 15 Navy Supply Corps Officers, one Medical Corps Officer and three Navy Line Officers.

December 1942
NSD Clearfield received its first shipments of material.

April 10, 1943
Naval Supply Depot Clearfield was commissioned on April 10, 1943. When commissioned it was the second largest Naval Supply Depot in the world, by the end of World War II it had become the largest.

NSD Clearfield covered approximately 871 acres initially covered by 58 warehouses. In a combination of open and covered warehouse space this facility would store logistical requirements and stage war materials needed to support the Pacific campaign.

The Transportation Section of NSD Clearfield maintained a very close relationship with the railroads so as to maximize its effectiveness in speeding its shipments to the West Coast for onward shipment. The Transportation Section of NSD Clearfield had its own railway service, which serviced the sprawling NSD Clearfield complex. This railway service brought incoming shipments to NSD Clearfield and shipped outgoing requirements to the fleet.

Freeport Center

The Naval supply depot at Clearfield was closed in 1962 and privatized as a tax-free warehousing district where companies could store goods without concern of inventory taxes. Today, the Freeport Center is the home of such nationally known companies as Fram automotive filters and Utility truck trailers, along with Arrow Dynamics, builder of those heart stopping coaster rides at many of the world's most famous amusement parks. After Arrow fabricates these rides, with their dramatic loops and sharp turns, they are disassembled and shipped worldwide, starting their journeys at Clearfield, loaded on flat cars handled by Union Pacific. In addition to switching in and around the Freeport Center and Clearfield during the work week, the UP's GP30s also worked daily between Salt Lake City and the Freeport Center, and between Ogden and Freeport. On weekends, the units usually tied up at Salt Lake City for inspections and fuel.

The Clearfield Freeport Center was the No. 1 source of traffic for UP during the 1970s. Unfortunately, the Rio Grande suffered here due to UP's dominance in Utah rail traffic. I am guessing that whatever traffic D&RGW had for the Freeport Center was whatever came by way of Denver over its own rails, or from California by way of its WP connection. As far as I know, D&RGW only ran a single daily train between Salt Lake City and Ogden, and whatever traffic there was that was bound for Clearfield would have been set out and picked up by that train. They did not have a switcher or other motive power assigned there, whereas UP always had at least four units specifically assigned to Freeport.

The Freeport Center was joint trackage for D&RGW and UP, but UP provided all the switching (possibly by agreement with D&RGW). The major portion of the center's trackage is located west of the Rio Grande main. UP has a six or seven track yard at Clearfield, but I don't think Rio Grande had any more than a siding. I don't have access to D&RGW drawings, but I'm guessing that UP's Syracuse Branch had a regular diamond crossing of the Rio Grande main. I am also guessing that UP's access to the Freeport Center, just a couple hundred feet south of that crossing, was by way of a set of switches that gave UP access to Rio Grande's main.

For at least a full year, motive power at Utah's Clearfield Freeport Center (at one time UP's single largest source of carload traffic) consisted of two sets of paired GP30s. Today that same assignment is held by similar sets of ex-MoPac GP15-1s, and during the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, Freeport motive power was six of UP's 10-unit fleet of SD7s. At Freeport, the GP30s worked in pairs, switching the many rail-served industries and warehouses at this former U. S. Navy warehousing complex, located on UP's mainline between Salt Lake City and Ogden.

Locomotives

The following roster listing was compiled by Allen Copeland in January 2011.

"These locomotives are arranged in order of delivery. The units with the 500-series number may be a clue to the number series in use prior to 1949-1950. The local numbers in use after that are based on the USN registration number. There were probably more units used at this facility:"

1949-1940
USN Registration
Local NSD
Number
HP Weight Builder c/n Date Note
65-00184 184 400 65T GE 17888 8/43 1
65-00183 183 400 65T GE 18004 9/43 2
65-00179 179 500 80T GE 18064 11/43 3
-- ? 400 65T Porter 7656 8/44 4
65-00182 507 500 80T GE 27815 1/45 5
65-00181 508 500 80T GE 27858 3/45 6
65-00180 180 500 80T GE 28447 8/45 7
65-00256 20 1000 120T
(VO1000)
BLW 71985 2/45 8

General Notes:

a. "The Navy roster first showed up in railfan circles in the late 1960s, but it had relatively few historical notes and left many questions unanswered. Since then, a lot of work has been done on this subject. We now know that the 65-00xxx series began in about 1950-51 and was retroactively applied to most locomotives in service at that time. Any new locomotives purchased after that date were built with 65-00xxx numbers. Diesel units transferred from other branches of the military generally got these numbers sooner or later. Numbering to some extent follows geographical guidelines (Naval District?) rather than by model or builder. A very large percentage of the 65-00xxx numbers are now vacant, but for the most part, the Navy puts newly-acquired units into higher numbers that were never previously used." (Joe Strapac, email dated February 21, 2011)

Notes:

1. USN NSD 184 (GE 17888); to USN 65-00184; sold February 1963 Central Contractors Services (dealer), East Chicago, Indiana, to Acme Steel Corp. #L04 or L05, Chicago, Illinois (Name changed to Interlake Steel.)
2. USN NSD 183 (GE 18004); to USN 65-00198; sold 1964 Whistler Equipment Co. (dealer), St. Louis, Missouri; resold Ingenio El Potrero (Mexico)
3. USN NSD 179 (GE 18064); to USN 65--179; sold 1964 Whistler Equipment Co. (dealer), St. Louis, Missouri; resold E. J. Lavino #2, Sheridan, Pa.
4. Porter 7656 Transferred to Naval Ship Yard #13, Bremerton, Wash; to USN #65-00209 1949-50; sold Bethlehem Steel Corp. #3, Seattle, Washington. Later to Great Lakes Carbon Co. #11, Seattle, Washington.
5. USN NSD 507 (GE 27815); to USN 65-00182; sold 1966 Armco Steel Corp., Houston, Texas; sold 1970 Coffield Warehouse Co. #1, "Gay Ninties", Houston, Tex.
6. USN NSD 508 (GE 27858); to USN 65-00181; sold Erman Corp. (dealer), Turner, Kansas; sold 10/65 Solvay Process Div., Allied Chemical & Dye Co., Prairie Du Rocher, Illinois For sale 12/1984 Trojan Industries, Inc. (dealer) (photo at RRPictures.net)
7. USN NSD 180 (GE 28447); to USN 65-00180; sold 1963 US Steel Corp., Gary, Ind.; to Central Contractors Services , East Chicago, Ind.; to Acme Steel Corp., Chicago, Illinois; (name changed to Interlake Steel Co.)
8. USN NSD 20 (BLW 71985); to USN 65-00256; built for Navy Supply Depot #5, Stockton, California; to USN 65-00256. Transferred to NSD #20, Clearfield, Utah; to Hill AFB, Utah for storage. Sold 1964 The Pacific Lumber Co. for parts, but reblt. 12/65 for use as TPLCo. #105, Scotia, California. Logging railroad ended 9/1978, loco. stored. Sold 1980 Charles Hicks, Garrison, Iowa. Sold by 10/1981 Keota-Washington Transportation Co. #105, Wellburg, Iowa. Not used, stored out of service 6/1982. Scrapped without being repainted. (photo as Pacific Lumber 105 at The Baldwin Diesel Zone) (photo as Pacific Lumber 105, at RRPictureArchives.net)

More Information

History of NSD Clearfield at MarrineBarracks.com

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