The Colony

Palmyra Island School Graduate Certificate for Eugene Norton Photo Collection: Palmyra under the CAA

When the navy officially vacated Palmyra in 1947 (though it was still considered government property, and would be until the mid 1950's), much of the islands structures, ordinance, and materials were either buldozed into the ocean or left to rot. As service members around the country returned home, looking for work, and the US government migrated its now massive manufacturing and industrial industries to post war consumer activities, departments like the CAA (forerunner of the FAA) sprung up around the country. Palmyra, with its various leftover facilities, and central Pacific location, was ideal for a communications station, and a small colony of families signed up to man the station. A journalist at the time described the group as follows:


Today, a dozen or so wives of the CAA works, weather bureau and bureau of standards personnel on Palmyra are living happy, contented lives a thousand miles from the nearest beauty shop. I spent quite some time talking to the different women and their husbands. It was hard for me to believe that they are living fas serenely as they claim. Some are married to ex-service men and vow they would live anywhere their husbands choose as long as they can be together. Others are emblematic of a pioneer heritage.

While this group numbered far fewer than the 6,000 plus servicemen who occupied Palmyra during the war, it was still significant considering the size of the islands. This marked the last government employed group to occupy the atoll before the Fullard-Leo family took it back from the US after a very public court battle that won them no favors with the US government, and soured relations with several prominent congressmen.

The Colony