Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Cheatham Annex: Still Serving the U.S. Navy, Fleet and Family

By Katherine A. Renfrew
Hampton Roads Naval Museum Registrar

World War II spurred the growth and development of many U.S. Naval installations around the country. One such base was the Cheatham Annex Supply Center (CAX), a small facility located approximately 35 miles northwest of Norfolk on the York River, York County, Virginia. Construction began in August 1942 on more than 3,000 acres, and was commissioned in June 1943. The facility supported the Naval Supply Depot in Norfolk. It provided bulk storage which included storage of gasoline, diesel, and other fuels. CAX was also an assembly location for items to be shipped abroad.

After the war, CAX continued to operate as a supply depot. During the 1970s and early 1980s, portions of the facilities’ land were transferred or sold to other government agencies: York County for use as a park; the National Park Service which enhanced the Colonial National Historical Park; and the “fuel farm” to the Virginia Department of Emergency Services. The annex was cut down to half of its original size.

More than 50 percent of the land was undeveloped which included lakes and marsh. It was, therefore, the perfect location to serve as a recreational complex for the Navy’s military and civilian personnel. In 1978, the Navy officially designated Cheatham Annex as the Hampton Roads Recreational Complex.

In October of 1998, CAX merged with the adjacent Naval Weapons Station Yorktown. Today, Cheatham Annex and the Station continue to provide valuable and critical support to the Navy.

The following images show a few examples of the development of Cheatham Annex in 1943.

This aerial view taken January 1, 1943, shows Cheatham Annex under construction on land where the town of Penniman, Virginia, once stood.

National Archives and Records Administration
CheathamAnnex-1943_01 (RG 71-CB, Box 89)

Aerial view of the construction of the oil storage tanks, part of the “tank farm” located at Cheatham Annex.  Eventually, 23 underground tanks were installed, most with a 50,000-barrel capacity, for the storage of fuel, February 19, 1943.

National Archives and Records Administration
CheathamAnnex-1943_13 (RG 71-CB, Box 90)

View of the supply pier on the York River at Cheatham Annex.  The workers are preparing to pour concrete in one of the oil tanks, March 23, 1943.

National Archives and Records Administration
CheathamAnnex-1943_08 (RG 71-CB, Box 90)

Image depicts an aerial view of the construction of the supply pier at Cheatham Annex.  The pier was “2,850 feet long by 28 feet wide, with an L-head at the extreme outboard end, 1,215 feet long by 42 feet wide, parallel to the river channel," March 25, 1943.

National Archives and Records Administration
CheathamAnnex-1943_09 (RG 71-CB, Box 90)

Rear side view of the Marine barracks, March 25, 1943.

National Archives and Records Administration
CheathamAnnex-1943_05 (RG 71-CB, Box 89)

Constructing the brig and cells for the barracks, June 6, 1943.

National Archives and Records Administration
CheathamAnnex-1943_07 (RG 71-CB, Box 89)

This brief history of Cheatham Annex is the ninth in a series of blogs illustrating the development of Naval Station Norfolk and other installations 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.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great pictures and information about Cheatham Annex!