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Small Town, Big History

Ben Terwilliger with students at Eudora Community Museum

Ben Terwilliger, Executive Director of the Eudora Community Museum, spoke about the history of Eudora and how the area was impacted by the near-by Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant and expected impact of the new Panasonic Battery Plant. The Museum is located at 1720 Main Street and has a collection of historical artifacts and an archive. Eudora was settled in 1857 by German immigrants who bought the land from a Shawnee Indian Chief. Eudora was rather a small town in 1942 when the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant was constructed in nearby De Soto. The plant would become the world’s largest producer of military propellant powder and required employee housing for 4,000 to 6,000 workers in the area. High wages drew workers from all over the region and Eudora quickly doubled in size and local businesses operated round the clock. At war’s end the plant was made inactive, however, many workers stayed in the area. The plant was reactivated for Korea and Viet Nam and then was closed permanently leaving a significant environmental hazard problem. Presently, a huge Panasonic Battery Plant is under construction on the site. It is also expected to have a large impact on surrounding communities. Terwilliger believes that local communities will be better prepared for such challenges than they were in 1942.