Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Why Craney Island Isn't an Island

By Katherine A. Renfrew
Hampton Roads Naval Museum Registrar

The true Craney Island has not been an island for more than 55 years. Extending into the Elizabeth River, the island became a peninsula when the U.S. Navy began filling in a branch of Craney Island Creek in 1938.  Now it’s the Craney Island Fuel Terminal, the U.S. Navy’s largest fuel facility in the continental United States.  It is operated by Fleet and Industrial Supply Center (FISC) Norfolk’s Fuel Department under the Navy Supply Systems Command. With 1,100 acres of above and below-ground fuel storage tanks, the terminal has extensive capabilities for fueling/defueling ships and other vessels.

Aerial view of Craney Island Fuel Depot, looking south, August 22, 1942. (National Archives and Records Administration- Craney Island-1942_02 / RG 71-CB, Box 90, Folder, Craney Island Fuel Depot, Aerial View)
The images below show the years when the Navy started rehabilitating the area for use as a fuel depot. Most of the construction was done by employees of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a New Deal agency that employed millions of people to carry out public works projects.

Workers make their way along the “bicycle path” leading to the administration building, which was formerly used as a quarantine hospital, August, 3, 1938. (National Archives and Records Administration- Craney Island-1938_01 / RG 71-CA, Box 311, Folder A)
Up-close view of workers repairing the quarantine quarters, August, 3, 1938. These buildings were considered the oldest on the island, dating back to before the Civil War. It was used as an infirmary and then a quarantine hospital for smallpox sufferers. (National Archives and Records Administration- Craney Island-1938_02 / RG 71-CA, Box 311, Folder A)

“Reconditioned quarters," looking southwest, September 1, 1938. (National Archives and Records Administration- Craney Island-1938_03 / RG 71-CA, Box 311, Folder A)

Workers grading the soil around oil tank Nos. 5 & 6 inside berm, looking east, September 1, 1938. (National Archives and Records Administration- Craney Island-1938_05 / RG 71-CF, Box 1, Folder Virginia, Naval Base Norfolk.)

View showing diesel oil line from Tank No. 4 to pump house, looking east, June 7, 1939. (National Archives and Records Administration- Craney Island-1939_03 / RG 71-CA, Box 311, Folder A)

General view of foam and diesel oil lines along southeast waterfront, looking southeast, May 4, 1939.  (National Archives and Records Administration- Craney Island-1939_12 / RG 71-CA, Box 311, Folder A)

This brief history of the Craney Island Fuel Deport is the sixth in a series of blog posts illustrating the development of U.S. Navy facilities in Hampton Roads. Unless otherwise noted, the photographs in this series represent the results of a research project seeking images of Hampton Roads naval installations at the National Archives and Records Administration. This research, performed by the Southeastern Archaeological Research, Incorporated (SEARCH), was funded by Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, as part of an ongoing effort to provide information on historic architectural resources at Navy bases in Hampton Roads. The museum is pleased to present these images for the benefit of the general public and interested historians. As far as we know, all of these images are in the public domain and none of them have been published before.

No comments: