The hunt for Uranium during the late 1940s and into the 1950s in the American West was a big deal. It’s also the last great mineral rush with-in the continental United States. Uranium’s grand paradox, as author Tom Zoellner puts it, is that “[t]he stability of our world rests on a substance that is unstable at the core.”
So large was the hunt for Uranium, the May 23, 1955, issue of Life Magazine noted that more man-hours had been spent hunting for Uranium between 1952 and 1955 than were spent seeking all other metals in history, at least according to the Atomic Energy Commission. Having spent considerable time thumbing through decades of mine related information prior to the 1900s, I find this claim dubious, but maybe someone can explain how this could be?
Still, the uranium boom captivated the imagination of the public. Uranium Fever was written and sung by Eliot Britt in 1955 and included jeep references. This great site shows how the search affected popular magazines of the time. In the Life Magazine article referenced above (pg 26), the author included a list of ultimate gear for prospecting. At the very top of the list was a brand-new four-wheel jeep for only $1,685, along with equipment and a map of the best places to hunt:
Taken by Life Magazine photographer Frank Scherschel, I found this photo at the picturesdotblog site. Note the use of the parking brake! Also note the “press” sign on the front of the jeep. Do you suppose the wire cutter on the front of the press jeep was cut so that it wouldn’t interfere with photos?
Jeeps (including a press vehicle) in the town square, Marigny (Manche), Normandy, 1944.
A view of the same town seventy years later (thanks Tom!):
The November 30th, 1942, issue of Life Magazine featured this photo of soldiers pushing a jeep across a river in New Guinea.
This photo was published by Life Magazine. I’m still hunting down the issue.
Here’s a set of Ford GPs in Burma during WWII. The photo is from the June 08, 1942, issue of Life Magazine. The article, “Flight from Burma” on page 30, is a fascinating tale of the desertion of the Rangoon, as told by George Rodger, the photographer pictured in the photo with the two Ford GPs below.
Search for Life Magazine June 8, 1942, on eBay
Later in the issue (page 56) is this ad with a jeep:
1950 photo of the Centre D’Art CJ-2A. This is a snapshot from the US Information Service video shown below.
In 1943, WWII conscientious objector and artist American DeWitt Peters chose to go to Haiti to teach English. After a year, he wrote to the Haiti’s Ministry of Education and suggested he could do more for Haiti by establishing a school of painting. Using some of his own money, along with US State Department and Haitian funds, he helped launch the LE CENTRE D’ART. The goal of the center was to encourage the development of Haiti artists and folk art.
Image is from Life Magazine circa 1947. This looks different from the other photos. It is possible the jeep was repainted regularly.
To help advertise the Center’s work, Dewitt Peters used his jeep as a rolling mural. As you can imagine, this color jeep must have been quite a sight motoring around Port-au-Prince. Dewitt also used the jeep to deliver art supplies to rural painters. The video below from the United States Information Service shows his jeep from timestamps 5:17 to about 8:00. Too bad it isn’t in color.
Many publications credit DeWitt for launching a renaissance in Haitian folk art, however some historians question his overall impact. However, one thing he might have launched is the Tap Tap Buses and Taxis, whose outsides are highly colorful and continue to shuffle riders to this day. Unfortunately, the Centre’ d’Art’s building was completely demolished in the Haitiian Earthquake.
Here are a few links of interest:
- Images of Tap tap vehicles
- Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti. Includes references to DeWitt Peters
- Life Magazine, August 1, 1947, article titled “Haitian Painting”, pgs 58-61.
- Tap Tap Bus — public transportation in Haiti. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Not a great day for driving a jeep. This 1950 photo of Nightmare Alley was shot as these troops retreated. The temperature was estimated at -40 degrees. Read more about this LIfe Magazine photo here.
David Douglas Duncan / TIME & LIFE Pictures.
U.S. Marine crouching down next to his jeep while leading a convoy of vehicles during the 1st Marine Division’s retreat down canyon road they called “Nightmare Alley,” after being cut off by the Red Chinese and under fire from nearby hills in December 1950.
Life magazine photographer W. Eugene Smith too this photo on Mariana Island of Saipan during the summer of 1944. You can see more photos at dailymail.co.uk’s site. As you can see, both of these jeeps are MB Slatgrilles. Interesting that the spares are stored in the same place used later by the CJs.
The August 03, 1942, issue of Life Magazine has an article about Transport Planes. The article includes photos of some GPWs. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to be wedged in there next to the jeep during a bumpy flight!
You can see the entire article at Google Books
There is a copy of this issue on eBay as well.
John spotted this photo on this website from page 29 of the March 30, 1942, issue of Life Magazine. The article covered the Flying Tigers and features some great photos.
Here’s a copy of the magazine for sale on eBay
The Princeton graduating class of 1932 used a jeep to celebrate their 15th reunion (in 1947) by hauling a keg in it. This photo was published in the June 16, 1947, issue of Life Magazine (page 60).
The related article takes an in-depth look at the class of ’32 by interviewing and publishing their incomes, job changes, marital status and more. It’s actually a pretty interesting article. I was surprised to see that by 1947 31% of marriages ended in divorce. One of the graduates of ’32 was Jimmy Stewart. Do you suppose he’s somewhere in the back of that jeep?
I bought a cheap copy of the May 5, 1942, issue of Life Magazine off ebay the other day. In it I found these photos on page 8-11. It was a failed effort to slide a jeep across a river by cable.
Before I show a the hanging jeep, I wanted to share the photo below that shows some jeeps aboard a vessel of some sort.
Here’s the jeep by cable from pages 8-11. You can view the magazine on Google.
Hugh forwarded these crated jeep photos.
John forwarded these two great photos. I couldn’t find these published in any specific issue of the magazine.
Joe submitted these pics and question:
Question: What happens when you combine the festive atmosphere of the Texas State Fair, a U.S. Army Band and a battalion of M38 Army Jeeps.
Answer: You have a huge parade and tax the driving skills of 24 soldiers with driving in close-order formation.
These LIFE photos by John Dominis are available for sale on the internet. Do an Image Search on “LIFE Jeep-Borne Army Band”. I count 24 jeeps………. Can anyone identify the name of the city in Texas where this was photographed?
Robert spotted this great link of Life Magazine Photos. The photos range across the decades, including black/white and color ones. This was photographed by Myron Davis for the July 1945 issue.
This May 14, 1951, issue of LIfe Magazine contains the article about the Yakima Ridge Runners. You can preview it on Google.
View all the information on eBay
Africa USA, was part of a theme-park movement in the late 1950s that included New York’s Freedomland, Disneyland, Wisconsin’s Fort Dells, and others. By 1959 these parks were collectively making $2 billion. There is a feature article about these parks in the August 1, 1960, issue of Life Magazine. The picture below is from that article. You can take a ‘virtual’ jeep-train tour here (don’t expect much).
This postcard image is from a jeep train that operated at Africa, USA. It was posted on Flickr here.
This 1959 postcard shows the tourist attraction upgraded to CJ-5s at some point.
This postcard is also available on eBay.
Willys News Dec 1955 article on Safari USA or Africa USA
Craig spotted this at the Life Magazine Archives. You can go here to see more archives:
UPDATE: **SOLD** Was on eBay
The May 1951 Issueof Life Magazine that has the Yakima Ridge Runners driving through the Yakima Valley is now on eBay. The Yakima RidgeRunners had a website for years, but it seems that it has been taken down. Below is an image from the Life Magazine article.
UPDATE: This was supposed to be yesterday’s top post. Well, it still works today. Besides the below pics, here are some additional pics on Facebook.
Bruce and I exchanged a few emails about Elvis and jeeps. I’m still not certain how, but after a few searches for Elvis, I found myself learning more about the Tour-de-France and Jeeps. This was quite a fun search. Elvis will have to wait until later . . .
This is a restored Tour-de-France jeep that may be an MB. I found the photo below on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dprezat/3625273265/
I found the photo below on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/clairemarine/5324818051/
There are many more smaller photos here, including what I believe is an article about the jeep.
Here are some pictures from Life Magazine, that can also be seen at G503.com
Here are some related toys — From Aplimodel.com comes this model:
This website had an older model of bike jeep:
You can buy the below diorama from Amazon.com UK:
And here is a different variation of a diorama that was on eBay UK:
The CJ-3B Page also has an image with four Tour-de-France Jeeps:
Kurtis spotted this article from the July 20th, 1942, issue of Life Magazine. Some of the pictures are familiar, but this is the first time I’ve seen this entire article. The article extends 7 pages and can be viewed in its entirety online.
Here are the first and last pages:
The July 23, 1945, issue of Life Magazine has a three page article by Joe Weston that describes a jeep trip through Sweden in what I would guess was May or June of 1945. Based on the three cartoons (show below) they were driving a Willys MA.
The article describes crowds of people gawking at the jeep wherever they went. In Stockholm people started removing parts off of it. The article was a funny read.
Read the entire article within Google Books or
Buy the magazine on eBay
Below are the three cartoons: