Baron Alfred de Ropp, a Russian nobleman, graduated from the Royal Mining Academy in Germany in 1882. He came to the USA to work for the Peblo Smelting and Refinery Company in Colorado where he developed a reputation for solving difficult problems.
In 1908 Baron Alfred de Ropp became manager of the Foreign Mines Development Company a subsidiary of the Consolidated Gold Fields of South Africa. A biography of the Baron in the book, Searles Lake Borax 1862-1962, credits him with supervising the creation of the town of Trona, the Trona Mercantile Company, the Hornsey plant and the American Trona Company plant. In addition he had to deal with investors and fight multiple legal challenges.
He was the president of the California Trona Company and then the American Trona Company. When he retired in 1920 both of his sons were living in Trona and working for the American Trona Company as Engineers. After his retirement the American Trona Company suffered from lack of strong leadership and reorganized to become American Potash & Chemical Corporation.
The American Potash & Chemical Corporation was incorporated with $1 million in capital in 1926. On the same date, it acquired American Trona Corporation.
The Baron’s son, Alfred, left Trona to work in AP&CC’s New York sales office. His son, Harold, went to work for DuPont. His daughter Vera married General Eric Fisher Wood who was on Eisenhower’s staff during WWII. The Baron’s grandson, Eric Wood Jr. , died during the Battle of the Bulge and was posthumously decorated.
The Baron moved to Coronado when he retired and died there in 1941. His wife died 11 years later.
The family story sounds like it could be made into a good movie. I have never heard of him until this week. He made the mistake of not naming a building after himself. If Austin Hall had been named de Ropp Hall we would all know who he was.