April 1st marks the 75th anniversary of Los Alamos becoming a “Company Town” with the Zia Company being contracted to run the Los Alamos Laboratory and the community of Los Alamos in 1946. They managed the town until the early 1960s, and continued to manage the Laboratory until 1986. You can still find evidence of the Zia Co. in some Los Alamos homes today with markings on bathroom mirrors or furniture.
#InsideTheArchives you will discover the many influences that the Zia Company had on Los Alamos history through photographs of their work and employees, documents managing utilities and permits, and artifacts such as hats and IDs; and that’s just a fraction of what we have related to this 40-year period!
Did you or a family member work for The Zia Company? Do you have a piece of furniture that has Zia Company instructions, stamp, or property tag? What do you remember about Zia Company’s impact on Los Alamos and the people who live here?
The Tenant's Handbook (first page)
“The Tenant’s Handbook
is a working guide to the day-to-day relationships between the landlord and the tenants of Los Alamos. It was prepared by Atomic Energy Commision and The Zia Company officials, coordinating with various policy boards representing major employers and with the cooperation of individual residents.
History of Los Alamos Housing
As recently as 1942 there was nothing on Los Alamos Mesa except a few houses and buildings used by the Los Alamos Ranch School.
Under the handicaps of isolation, secrecy and wartime shortages, the Manhattan Engineer District built on the Mesa a laboratory to develop an atomic bomb and a community to house its personnel and to service it. By direction, all construction was of a temporary nature.
More than 5,000 persons were crowded into Army-style barracks, quonset huts, barrack-style apartments, and a very few pre-fabricated houses. By the war’s end there was crowded atop Los Alamos Mesa a laboratory and a town.
People who would live in such housing under wartime necessity wouldn’t live there permanently. When it was determined that the Laboratory would be continued, hundreds of pre-fabricated houses were erected to care for immediate needs. By mid-1947, when the Atomic Energy Commission actually took over the operation of Los Alamos, the first units of Western Housing Area were being occupied. From that time on apartment and housing construction has been a priority program.
As fiscal year 1950 ended (July 1, 1950), Los Alamos had approximately 2,800 houses and apartments on four mesas. It has 1,225 dormitory rooms, and 160 trailer spaces in its Trailer Park. Comparatively few temporary wartime housing units remained and they were scheduled for eventual removal. Planned new construction was scheduled to end in mid-1952 upon completion of the Northern Community. Construction after that was to be for replacement of the pre-fabricated houses on the original townsite.
Responsibilities of AEC
Under the particular circumstances existing at Los Alamos, the Atomic Energy Commission has a responsibility to provide adequate housing for employees and their families.
Adequate housing means a sufficient number of trailer spaces, dormitory rooms, apartments and houses for our single employees and for our married employees and their families. It means also a variety of choice within each type of housing to try to match the desires and the income of individuals. It means essential home equipment and surroundings suited to a comfortable standard of living.
( 1 )”
The Zia Company Organization Chart
At the top of the organization chart is the corporate officer, then manager, then comptroller, director of organization & personnel, and city engineer. The comptroller oversaw Mail and Records, Fiscal Division, and Special Departments. The director of organization & personnel oversaw Personnel Division, Safety Division, and Concessions. The City Engineer oversaw Warehouse Division, Maintenance Division, Engineering Division, and Transportation Division.
Within the Divisions and Departments are listed:
First Issue of The Zia News
A stamp in the upper right corner reads: “Received: 1 1949, Los Alamos Office, Robert E. McKee, General Contractor.” The banner of the page reads “The Zia News, Los Alamos, New Mexico” beside a logo for the Zia Company.
The first page of news reads:
“Vol. I--No. 1
August 26, 1949
Zia Company To Have News Sheet
Today marks the birth of The Zia News. With this issue, C. D. McKee, Manager of the Zia Company, announces that the Company will publish news of its activities regularly.
Mr. McKee says: ‘We are initiating this activity in the interests of keeping our people well informed. Our organization is large and far-flung and many of our people know too little of the Company’s activities and the people that carry them out.’
Mr. McKee continued, ‘Since this paper is being published for the people of The Zia Company, I want everyone to feel free to submit news for printing. Your management will use the paper to issue statement of policy and to make important announcements. Your divisions and sections will submit news on operations and activities. Reporters and being selected from each of these groups to write up and submit stories on all activities in which you are interested or concerned. Won’t you help too?’
Details of editing and printing will be handled in the Personnel Division by Tom Mannon.
News items or questions may be directed to him on ‘phones 2531, 2532.
The Zia News will be published every other Friday and will be delivered to you with your pay check by your timekeeper.
Zia’s White Rock Volunteer Fire Department Has Baptism of Fire
Zia’s volunteer fire department at White Rock clicked like clock work in putting out a fire in the laundry room of Utility Bldg. No. 1 in the White Rock Trailer Court last Tuesday.
The alarm was turned in on a box by Frank Gallant at 12:30 p.m. The fire was subdued in 15 minutes but an additional 45 minutes was used in cleaning up.
(Continued on Page 2)”
Retirement Plan Letter
“The Zia Company / Los Alamos, New Mexico 87544
11 October 1971
G. H. Wilder
Certificate No. 174
In addition to the recently announced improvements to our retirement plan, we have made an additional improvement which directly benefits you. This benefit is being announced through individual letters rather than being generally publicized due to the face that all participants do not receive this benefit and the amount of the benefit varies among those who do.
This benefit is called a “Past Service Credit.” As you are aware, The Zia Company began operations at Los Alamos in 1946, but did not initiate a retirement plan until 1959. The purpose of the “Past Service Credit” is to give you some benefits at retirement in place of what you could have earned prior to 1959 had the retirement plan been in effect and had you been eligible to participate.
The amount of your Past Service Credit is $ 774.14 . This amount will be paid to you each year after you retire at age 65 and is in addition to the other retirement benefits you earn under this plan. Should you elect an earlier or later retirement date, the Past Service Credit will be taken into account in figuring your benefits. You should realize that you must retire in order to receive the benefit of this Past Service Credit.
It is recommended that you retain this letter with your other retirement information. Should you have any questions, please contact me at 667-5276.
J. F. Vollmer, Jr.
“The Zia Company
Los Alamos Airport
Aircraft Pilot Permit
Pilot Name: Hugh R. Lehman Hill Flyer
Address: 742 A 47th St. Los Alamos, N.M.
Permit Number: 88
FAA License Number: 1369741
Pilot License Rating: Private Single Engine Land
Aircraft Identification Number: 7030 A N 8923 T
Aircraft Make: Cessna 172 1960 Skylane Cessna 180
Insurance Company: Associated Aviation Underwriters
Policy Number: CHL 45 159
Policy Term: 2-10-64-2-10-65
Radio Telephone Operator Permit Number: 15B1667
- - - - - - - - - - - -
In consideration of The Zia Company’s grant of this permit, the undersigned pilot agrees to comply with and be bound by the attached Conditions, any amendments thereto and all rules, regulations and instructiosn issued in connection therewith.
Hugh R. Lehman [signed]
The Zia Company
Wm. P. Junge, Chief
Supply and Transportation Div.
Dated: 20 March 1964”
Utility and Service Agreement
This page reads:
“237 RO 85 / (Rev. 5-60)
The Zia Company, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Utility and Service Agreement
Date: 17 April 1961
Code No.: 362-98-332
Permanent [ ]
[Chart for the Code No., Metered Class, Flat Rate, Days, and Cur. Chgs. or Met. Read. for Electricity, Gas, Water, Steam, Sewerage, and Refuse. In the chart, Code No. 36 is entered for Water]
The Zia Company (hereinafter called the “Company”) agrees to furnish Ewing, Kenneth 613 47th St. (hereinafter called the “Consumer”) the utilities and services indicated above in accordance with and subject to the Company’s Utility and Service Rules and Regulations for Los Alamos, New Mexico, as now or hereafter approved by the United States Atomic Energy Commission and in effect at the time of delivery of said services or utilities. Said Utility and Service Rules and Regulations are posted in the Company’s Real Estate Division Office, where they are available for inspection during regular office hours.
Said utilities and services shall be for use in connection with the Consumer’s use and occupancy of the premises located at 224 Chamisa, Lot No. 103, Barranca Mesa , and/or performance of the Consumer’s Contract No. with .
The Consumer hereby agrees to abide and be bound by the rates, terms and conditions set forth in the aforementioned Utility and Service Rules and Regulations.
The Zia Company
By: R. E. O’Flaherty [signed]
By: Kenneth J. Ewing [signed]
Water BillThe statement, addressed to “Spooner Allen G, 2027 0B 46th Street, Los Alamos New Mex,” reads:
“Utility Codes 1-Electric 2-Gas 3-Water 4-Steam 5-Sewer 6-Refuse / Acct. No 34222008 / The Zia Company Utilities Statement Los Alamos, New Mexico Phone 2-2598 / Please Pay With or Before Current Rent Payment - Thank You. / Code: 3 Reading Date: 3-02 / Present Meter Readings: 8795, Previous Meter Reading: 8738 / Used: 5.7 / Amount: 1.68 1.68*”
Property Inspection EnvelopeThe information on this envelope reads:
“Zia Rental Office
Property Inspection of Your New Unit:
Address: 3711 Gold, Apt #4
Someone Must Be Present to Meet the Inspector At This Time. . . . . If It Is Necessary To Change Inspection Time, Please Call the Zia Real Estate Office At: 7-4581. Thank You.”
Also handwritten on this envelope is archival information: “(RL) 4901, 83.776, Storage-RL” and “M1986-776-1-1.”
Property Inspection Report
The form reads:
Contract No: 24411
Effective Date: 23 October 1967
Lessee: Crocker, Gordon D.
Terminated Contract No.:
Address of Premises: 3711 Gold St, Apt 4
Type of Unit: 1 Berm 1950
Inspection Date: 26 October 1967 10:00
Address of Premises:
Type of Unit:
[Chart assessing structural components in the kitchen, bathroom, living room, dining room, hall-stairs, and bedrooms 1 through 4: floors, walls, ceilings, woodwork, paint, doors, door frames, door hardware, window panes, window frames, window hardware, window screens, window shades, curtain rods, electrical, closets, cabinets, linoleum (floor), and linoleum (cabinets), as well as equipment: faucets, sink, drain, drain board, range, range burners, refrigerator, lavatory, faucets, flush valve, toilet tank, toilet bowl, toilet seat, paper holder, towel rack, bath tub, shower, medicine cab., heat, and wash. mach. inst. The chart is filled with handwritten checkmarks, indicating a one-bedroom studio apartment in good condition with no washing machine installed.]
Range: Vorta 20 [initialed]
Refrigerator: PN. 27197 10’ G.E. [initialed]
[Chart for Exterior, listing screen doors, pain, siding, stairs, handrails, hose bibbs, yard, fence, and garbage can. Only screen doors has a checkmark.]
Details: [illegible] lav. faucets 10-85
Liv room wall [illegible] on E wall
Notice to the Lessee: The Lessee accepts the premises in their present condition except for defects reported by the Lessee in writing within fifteen (15) days following the effective date of the Lease. (See Paragraph 5 of the Lease Agreement)
Dan Crocker [signed], Tenant
[Chart for notations in the charts above: Code: OK-checkmark, Poor Condition-X, Tenant Damage-TD, Paint-PT, Repair-Repr, Replace-Repl, See Details-O
12/15/2022 03:47:55 am
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These articles are written by the Los Alamos Historical Society Staff. Many of these articles were originally published by the