Guayule (Parthenium_argentatum) plants were grown in Salinas Valley, California from 1926 through 1945 as a source of rubber. A Mexican desert shrub with 20% pure, harvestable-rubber, the Intercontinental Rubber Company (ICRC) bred the plant to double its rubber content. In 1926, ICRC set up large scale growing operations and a processing plant in Salinas Valley. They had eight thousand acres of guayule under cultivation with up to five tons of guayule rubber made daily.
During WWII Americans faced a shortage of rubber and Japan controlled 90% of the supplies. In order to assure adequate rubber supplies domestically, the US Government passed the Emergency Rubber Project Act in 1942 and took over ICRC’s operations in Salinas. The US Forest Service directed what was known as the “Guayule Rubber Project.” Guayule nurseries were established in Bakersfield, Oceanside, and Indio, California and in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. By 1944, 32,000 acres of guayule were in cultivation and processed in Salinas.
Read the full story and see more 1941 photos from Russell Lee at MobileRanger.com.