December 1st, 1942 – Char-Gale opened St. Cloud plant

There are many images in our world today which have lasted years, images that every student, parent, grandparent knows and recognizes. One such image is the propaganda image of Rosie the Riveter. During World War II, the government created propaganda images to help bring more female workers into the workforce to fill a shortage of jobs left by enlistment. One such company that benefitted from this image was Char-Gale, a sheet metal and furnace company based in Minneapolis.

During the war, Char-Gale helped contract items for the war effort, and just one week before Pearl Harbor and eight short days before the United States entered the war, Char-Gale opened a plant in St. Cloud. The company originally hired men but as the need to fill jobs increased they were forced to seek help from across state lines, and even hire women. Prospective employees were paid 50 cents an hour for training classes which they took at St. Cloud Technical High School. During the war the company was contracted to build airplane fuselages for the C-46 aircraft. During its peak the company employed about 1,400 men and women.

As the war came to a close with Germany, the need for war supplies dwindled. Fewer companies were needed to produce war supplies as the only section of the war continuing was in the Pacific with Japan. So on June 29th, 1945, Char-Gale closed its St. Cloud plant, keeping only 850 of the 1,400 workers which were employed. The company had been in full production since March of 1942, and had kept the economy of St. Cloud in good condition allowing for a bounce-back from the affects of The Great Depression, especially by allotting jobs to female workers.

Thanks to the Stearns History Museum and SCSU Work Study Student Cassie Erickson for their help with our series, This Date In Central Minnesota History.