De Soto: 1942 Boom Town

When construction began on the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant in 1942, workers from all over the Midwest flocked to Johnson County to work at the plant.  The town of De Soto changed dramatically.  Trailers and tents popped up all over town due to a housing shortage.

De Soto residents rented out spare rooms, garages, and even chicken coops to Sunflower workers.  De Soto’s population grew over 350% during the 1940s.  The federal government eventually responded to the housing shortage by building Sunflower Village, a housing project located across old Kansas Highway 10 from the plant.  Sunflower Village housed 6,000 workers at its peak.  Today it is known as Clearview City.

The Johnson County Museum’s newest exhibit, “Citizen Soldiers on the Prairie,” explores the history of the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant and the impact it had on Johnson County.  The exhibit is on display until August 2014.  http://jocomuseum.org/

– Matt Gilligan, Johnson County Museum

De Soto, November 1942

De Soto, November 1942

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