Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Camp San Luis Obispo
Including National Guard Training Camp, Camp Merriam and Baywood Park Training Area
Main Gate
The California Legislature, in the statutes of 1850, provided for the formation of the California Militia. From 1850 until 1928, units of the California Militia, after 1866 the California National Guard, trained at areas locally available to them; state parks, ranches rented many times on a dollar-a-year basis, and to a limited extent, Federal military installations in the State
In the years following World War I, the need for a state owned training site became more generally recognized, and in the statutes of 1928 the California Legislature confirmed in the State Adjutant General the power of eminent domain. Very shortly thereafter, Brigadier General Richard E. Mittelstaedt, State Adjutant General, Major General Walter P. Story, Commanding General 40th Division, and State Senator Chris N. Jespersen persuaded the Legislature to acquire and establish the National Guard Training Camp, 40th Division, as a training site for the California National Guard in the San Luis Obispo area. The camp was dedicated on 4 July 1928. In 1934, the camp was named in honor of Governor Frank Merriam and became known as Camp Merriam. The name was changed to Camp San Luis Obispo when it was occupied by the Army in 1940.

The original Camp Merriam was comprised of an area of 5,800 acres, which lies east and north of State Highway 1. At that time, the camp also included approximately 400 acres in that area which were transferred to the State Department of Corrections in 1952. It was devided into two portions, an Artillery Camp, which some buildings still remain, and a larger Infantry Camp which there are no remains of. To view contemprary photographs and postcards of Camp Merriam, CLICK HERE

In 1940, the Federal government exercised its preemptive rights and leased Camp San Luis Obispo from the State. To accommodate the 40th Infantry Division, which then included elements from California, Arizona and Utah, as well as the many infantry divisions which were to follow, the camp was enlarged by 4,685 acres. Title to this acreage was vested in the Department of the Army. In the 1940-1941 period, virtually all construction in the cantonment area took place. in addition, the Army acquired 4,170 acres at the headwaters of the Salinas River, about 20 miles east of Camp San Luis Obispo, for construction of the Salinas Dam as a supplemental source of water for Camp San Luis Obispo. To view World War II era postcards of Camp San Luis Obispo, CLICK HERE
The post served as a training base for several combat division heading for both the Pacific and Europe. Marine Corps recruitment after Pearl Harbor so taxed the limited ranges and training facilities at Camp Matthews near San Diego that some 5,000 Marines had to be rushed to Camp San Luis Obispo for marksmanship and other training. This continued until the facilities at Camp Jospeh H. Pendleton were completed.

Camp San Luis Obispo was returned to the State of California in 1946. The cantonment area not previously owned by the State including all improvements on both sides of the highway was ceded to the State in lieu of restoration.

Concurrent with the return of the camp to the State in 1946, was the reorganization of the California National Guard. Camp San Luis Obispo became the home of the United States Property and Fiscal Office for California, which provides logistical and fiscal support for the entire California National Guard. For a number of years, the camp was the training site for the 40th and 49th Infantry Divisions, California National Guard, as well as for several non-divisional elements.

Following the outbreak of hostilities in Korea in 1950, mobilization of the 40th Infantry Division and several support units of the California National Guard, the Army again leased Camp San Luis Obispo as a Class I installation. The Southwest Signal Corps Training Center was located at the camp as a Class II activity.


Batman at Camp San Luis Obispo

    Adam West, who would later star as television's "Batman" in the late 1960s, was drafted into the Army in 1954, just after the Korean War ended.
    Born William West Anderson in Walla Walla, Washington in 1928, he graduated from Whitman College there. He got a job as a DJ on a local radio station, probably due to his great voice, and he started thinking of a career in show business. In 1954, he was drafted into the US Army, and trained for the Signal Corps. He spent the next two years starting up Army TV stations. His first assignment was at Camp San Luis Obispo.
    In 2011, he told the curator of the Camp Roberts Museum that, while working as a private at Camp San Luis Obispo, he had a gruff supervisor by the name of Sergeant Tate who was constantly chewing a cigar and looking over his shoulder to make sure he was doing everything right. He was later sent to the home of the Signal Corps at the time, Fort Monmouth, NJ, and served until 1958. After his stint in the Army, he and his first wife traveled throughout Europe until their money ran out, then ended up in Hawaii, where he got a role on a children's TV show. In 1959, they moved to Hollywood. He changed his name to Adam West (his mother's maiden name was West), and he began landing roles in western films.
    After seven years in Hollywood he was chosen for the lead role in TV's new Batman series in 1966, and starred in a Batman major motion picture the same year. The series was an enormous hit, and ran for four years, with famous actors and actresses beating down the doors to get a guest spot in an episode. He was severely typecast after his successful run as Batman, but he managed to stay busy acting in motion pictures, taking guest roles on many other television series, and in voiceover work on animated series. Beginning in 2000, he made regular appearances in television's animated hit, Family Guy, as the lunatic Mayor of Quahog.
    Adam West passed away 9 June 2017.

The Army returned the camp to State control in July 1965. By this time, the California Military Academy had been established and was growing in size and importance, increasing the demand for adequate training areas. There was also a growing need for additional training areas for support type organizations and units in order to relieve congestion and scheduling problems at Federal training sites.

In recognition of these needs, the Commanding General, State Military Forces, directed that facilities be developed at Camp San Luis Obispo to provide suitable academic complex for the California Military Academy as well as for Sixth U.S. Army sponsored unit training schools. Other facilities were to be upgraded to acceptable standards. Actions designed to achieve these objectives have been in progress since 1967 and are continuing as provided by funding and demand.
During August 1984, Camp San Luis Obispo hosted the U.S. Army's Exercise GALLANT EAGLE, considered the largest military exercise conducted in the United States. Other military exercises include LASTING RESPONSE, which is a multi-national military operation that has been conducted at Camp San Luis Obispo for over 10 years. During the Las Pilitas fires in July 1985, the community of San Luis Obispo was directly threatened before the fire was contained. During this emergency Camp San Luis Obispo supported as many as 2,500 firefighters and National Guardsmen and their equipment with facilities to provide housing and base operations.
The cantonment area can house a population of more than 2,000 under normal conditions, and more than 3,500 under emergency conditions. The eleven separate dining facilities on the installation have the capability to feed over 3,000 people. Their are also eleven assembly buildings with a total occupancy capacity of 1,520, as well as more than fifty administrative and office buildings. Additionally, the camp maintains a heliport, a complete complex of warehouses, workshops and maintenance facilities. Other supporting facilities include a chapel, two service clubs, two theaters, as well as laundry and post exchange facilities.
Camp San Luis Obispo provides operational, training and logistical support to a wide variety of civilian and military agencies at the federal, state and local levels. These agencies include.the California Army and Air National Guard, the United States Army Reserve, the United States Coast Guard Reserve, the California Conservation Corps, the California Specialized Training Institute, Cuesta Community College and the California Department of Transportation
Units of the Guard, Army Reserve and Active Army occupy facilities at Camp San Luis Obispo for two to three week periods. of training duty with utilization primarily occurring during the summer months. Training facilities include: weapons firing, ranges, obstacle, land navigation and leadership reaction courses, and land areas suitable to conduct field training exercises for a battalion size organization (1,000 personnel).
Federal training facilities at other California locations have been closed or greatly curtailed during the last decade. Accordingly, the high quality of field and garrison facilities at Camp San Luis Obispo and its ideal location of the Central California Coast will continue to make Camp San Luis Obispo one of the most viable training areas in the country.
In the 21st century, Camp San Luis Obispo saw a huge expansion of training activities. The Grizzly Youth Academy doubled in size occupying 1/3 oof the post's troop housing while building the new classroom building that were opened in 2015.
the 223rd Regiment (Regional Training Institute) was the expansion of its training madate by conducting the following Military Occupational Specialty coures for the active and reserve components:
This expansion resulted in the improvement of training areas and facilities and the building of a new barracks building to support residential course students.
The regiment also conducts Officer and Warrant Officer Candidate Courses,Noncommissiond Officer Education System Courses, and other leadership and speciaty courses.
The California State Military Reserve also permanently established its Officer and Warrant Officer Candidate School in 2013 as did the Headquarters of the California Cadet Corps.
Baywood Park Training Area
Baywood Park Training Area (BPTA) was located approximately 13 miles northwest of the city of San Luis Obispo, California. The U.S. Army acquired the 8,810 acres of land for BPTA during World War II as an off-post training facility for Camp San Luis Obispo. The acquisition consisted of 2,005 acres in agreements; 2,411 acres in leases; 4,390 acres in permits; and 3.9 acres in right-of-way for a road easement.
The major portion of the BPTA was used as a maneuver area for troops, vehicles and equipment, and for bivouacs (camp sites) by the soldiers stationed at Camp San Luis Obispo. In conjunction with the Army personnel from Camp San Luis Obispo, U.S. Navy and Marine Corps troops from the Morro Bay Naval Section Base utilized a smaller portion of the site located along the southern portion of the Morro Bay sand spit and the ocean front south of the sand spit as an amphibious landing training area.
In August 1946, after the conclusion of World War II, the BPTA was declared excess and all the leases, permits and other agreements were terminated. Disposal action was completed during 1947 with all land being returned to its original owners. Today, the land is owned by various individuals and organizations, with no land remaining under Department of Defense ownership or control.
Army Center of Military History Status Cards
Prisoner of War Camp, 1945-1946
Southwestern Signal School, 1951-1953
Southwestern Signal Training Center, 1951-1952
Southwestern Signal Replacement Training Center, 1951-1953
Southwestern Signal Corps Training Center, 1951-1953
Southwestern Signal Corps Training Center Memorial


11 FEBRUARY 1952 TO 30 OCTOBER 1953
2 APRIL 1952 TO 30 OCTOBER 1953
1944 Map of Camp San Luis Obispo
Other Online Histories
Units Stationed at Camp San Luis Obispo
World War II
Corps Area Service Unit (after 1942, Service Command Unit) 1947 (Station Complement)*
40th Infantry Division*
Headquarters, 40th Division Headquarters*
Headquarters, Special Troops*
40th Military Police Company (Nevada)*
40th Signal Company *
115th Ordnance Company (Utah)*
115th Engineer Regiment (Utah and Nevada)*
115th Medical Regiment (3d Battalion from Utah)*
115th Quartermaster Regiment*
79th Infantry Brigade*
159th Infantry Regiment
184th Infantry Regiment*
80th Infantry Brigade*
160th Infantry Regiment*
185th Infantry Regiment*
60th Field Artillery Brigade (Utah)*
143d Field Artillery Regiment (75mm Howitzer) *
145th Field Artillery Regiment (75mm Howitzer) (Utah)*
222d Field Artillery Regiment (155mm Howitzer) (Utah)*
46th Quartermaster Regiment (later 46th Quartermaster Truck Regiment)
7th Infantry Division
35th Infantry Division. (March 1942-1 April 1943)
134th Infantry Regiment
137th Infantry Regiment
320th Infantry Regiment was activated at Camp San Luis Obispo on 14 January 1943. This Regiment fought as part of the 80th Division during World War I.
Division Artillery
127th Field Artillery Battalion
161st Field Artillery Battalion
216th Field Artillery Battalion
219th Field Artillery Battalion was activated 12 January 1943 with a cadre of officers and enlisted men from the 130th Field Artillery Battalion originally of the Kansas National Guard.
60th Engineer Combat Battalion was activated 29 January 1943 at Camp San Luis Obispo, California.
110th Medical Battalion
35th Quartermaster Company
35th Division Military Police Platoon
35th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop was activated 1 March 1942 at Camp San Luis Obispo, California.
735th Ordnance Company
35th Signal Company was activated 24 December 1940 and consisted of men from Kansas City, Kansas.
86th Infantry Division
96th Infantry Division (April 1944)
104th Infantry Division (1 August-15 September 1945)
329th Engineer Battalion
329th Medical Battalion
804th Ordnance Company
104th Quartermaster Company
104th Reconnaissance Troop
104th Signal Company
104th Military Police Platoon
Division Artillery
385th Field Artillery Battalion
386th Field Artillery Battalion
387th Field Artillery Battalion
929th Field Artillery Battalion
413th Infantry Regiment
414th Infantry Regiment
415th Infantry Regiment
Attached Units:
555th Anticraft Automatic Weapons Battalion (Mobile)
750th Tank Battalion
692nd Tank Destroyer Battalion
817th Tank Destroyer Battalion (Self-Propelled)
87th Chemical Battalion (4.2 Inch Mortar)
53d Evacuation Hospital*
26th Station Hospital*
Korean War
Southwestern Signal Replacement Training Center (11 February 1952-30 October 1953)
Southwestern Signal School (2 April 1952-30 October 1953)
1st Signal Service Group (later 1st Signal Group) (January to August 1952)
161st Ordnance Depot Company (1948-1950)
505th Signal Group (16 January 1952-8 September 1953)
207th Signal Depot Company. Unit was activated on 16 February 1952 at Camp San Luis Obispo
509th Signal Service Battalion (later 509th Signal Battalion) (Activated 15 February 1952 at Camp San Luis Obispo)
National Guard Training Camp and Camp Merriam Images
National Guard Training Camp in 1933
The Artillery Camp
Camp Merriam Today
Original Post Headquarters
Headquarters Mess
Artillery Camp Company Mess Halls
Camp Merriam Motor Pool
Troops training at Artillery Camp portion of Camp Merriam would erect a tent city in this field.  The building in the background is the sole surviving enlisted latrine building. It is currently used as a chemical defense training building.
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    History of Camp San Luis Obispo Now Available: We are very proud to announce that the California Center for Military History's first book is now available for purchase. The book written by a team led by CW2 Mark Denger of our Naval History Section has worked long and hard to produce what is hoped to be the first of many such books dealing with California Military History. To order this book, CLICK HERE
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Updated 10 August 2017