Tag Archives: History

Enos Mills’ Unlikely Role in World War II

Not many people associate Enos Mills with the Second World War. I certainly didn’t until I ran across some notes my grandfather had taken in the seventies, twenty years before his death.There was a liberty ship with the name SS Enos A Mills. For those of you unfamiliar with liberty ships, they were hastily constructed cargo vessels built entirely for the purpose of sending supplies and materiel to the troops overseas. They hauled food, munitions, vehicles, whatever the troops needed to continue the fight, or sometimes simply stay alive. They were absolutely crucial to the war effort, and their construction pioneered new shipbuilding technologies.

Liberty ships were built so quickly that in four years of the United States at war, seventeen shipyards cranked out 2,751 liberty ships. On average, ships were being launched at the rate of two per day.

My grandfather, Robert H. Kiley, served as a radio man on the U.S.S. Boise (CL-47), mostly in the Pacific theater. Apparently he had seen the SS Enos A Mills during his time on the Boise. My grandfather had yet to meet my grandmother, Enos’ daughter, Enda, but had read Enos’ books in school as a child and recognized his name.


The SS John W. Brown, photograph courtesy American Merchant Marine at War, http://www.usmm.org.

I found some specs on the SS Enos A Mills:

  • Registry number 2537, Official Number: 244319.
  • Laid Down 15 Nov. 1943. Launched 4 Dec. 1943.
  • Liberty Ship EC2-S-C1Type: Emergency Cargo, 2 meant between 400 and 450 feet in length, S for Steam Engine, C1 for design C1.
  • Built by Oregon Shipbuilding Company in Portland, Oregon.
  • Carried a crew of 44 people.
  • Its Signal and Radio-call letters were KVIG.
  • Gross tonnage: 7,176, Net tonnage: 4,380. Deadweight tons: 10,480.
  • Length: 422.8 feet, breadth: 57 feet, depth: 34.8 feet.
  • Its steam engines produced 2500 horsepower.
  • The SS Enos A Mills was scrapped in 1961 in Tampa, Florida.

SS John W. Brown was a like model. It is one of the last two operational liberty ships afloat, and you can learn more about the SS John W. Brown at their website, where you can also take virtual 306-degree tours of various parts of the ship (which is pretty cool!) : http://www.ssjohnwbrown.org


Another view of the SS John W Brown. Image courtesy USS Kidd Veterans Memorial/Project Liberty Ship.

I’ve been a bit distracted and busy this spring. We are sitting under a blanket of almost two feet of snow, Long’s Peak has been missing for three days behind a curtain of clouds. April was such a beautiful month that I neglected my blog writing to pursue more outdoor activities. (We have eagles! And owls!) Some idle late-night internet searching for an idea invariably leads me to BuzzFeed, where I find very little information I need, but it did give me an idea!

Here’s nine things you may not have known about Enos:

Helen Keller

Helen Keller


1. He was friends with Helen Keller. His daughter, Enda, met her in 1922 when Enda was three years old. Helen wrote him a letter in 1916 telling him how much she loved his book “In Beaver World”. On of these days I’ll share it with you.




2. Enos didn’t drive a car, or had a license to drive one. By the time cars were prevalent in the Estes Park area, Enos had a small fleet at Long’s Peak Inn, with his staff driving them. A Stanley Steamer Mountain Wagon, and two Model A Fords to shuttle customers from train stations to the Inn. If he went into Estes Park on his own, he usually rode Cricket, his horse. Licenses weren’t issued in Colorado until 1931 at the earliest, nine years after his death.

3. It took him nearly fifteen years to get published.

4. He was not fond of cats, especially mountain lions. He frequently called them “game hogs” in his stories. He much preferred grizzly bears, so much so that he raised two cubs, Johnny and Jenny, for a year after their mother was killed.

5. He spoke at the Tuskogee Institute in November, 1908, to the whole student body. Booker T. Washington was the principal at the time. Enos’ usual theme with his talks were on forestry and tree conservation, sometimes ending with a bear story.

6. Enos, with his wife Esther and daughter Enda, stayed at the Hotel Rosslyn in Los Angeles in 1922, during his tour of the west coast. At the time, the luxury hotel was only ten years old and in its heyday. Some online searching didn’t reveal much except that it is now in a dodgy area of L.A. Although, I did find some old photos of it.

Hotel Rosslyn, 1920's

Hotel Rosslyn, 1920’s

Hotel Rosslyn, 1924

Hotel Rosslyn, 1924

7. Although he was allergic to wheat, Enos did enjoy the occasional waffle. Esther mentions it in a journal she wrote about raising their daughter the first few years of her life. Eating wheat products gave him something of a sour stomach, but when he wanted waffles, he wanted waffles!

8. Enos climbed Mt. Vesuvius in 1900 during a trip to Europe. The soonest it had erupted before his visit was on April 24, 1872 (Enos had just turned two years old), and the next eruption would occur on April 4, 1906, both eruptions had lava flows. The Vesuvius National Park website is here: http://www.epnv.it/grancono/index.asp

9. Enos corresponded with two presidents: Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. Wilson was the president that signed the bill creating Rocky Mountain National Park, not Teddy. Enos also spoke before Taft when he was giving a talk on bears at the White House.

When I think of some more little snippets and tidbits, I’ll add to this, but for the time being, have some trivia to impress your friends at parties, especially if they are Enos Mills fans!