Posts, Camps Stations and Airfields
Camp Robert H.
Main Gate, Camp Robert
With the start of World War II in 1939,
the United States began the preparation to improve its defense
capabilities despite its offical police of "neutrality".
The Marine Corps decided they needed a training center for field
and anti-aircraft artillery units of Fleet Marine Force, Pacific
and that was near enough so that aircraft could take off from
an aircraft carrier near San Diego. The deserts close to San
Diego area were considered ideal. Anza Borrego, Ocotillo and
Niland were all being considered.
The editor of the Brawley Imperial
County Democrat, F.W. Greer, appealed to President Roosevelt
to have the large Marine Corps base established in Niland. The
Marine Corps at that time acquired Rancho Santa Margarita which
became Camp Joseph T. Pendleton and so the base at Niland would
become a supporting artillery training area.
The Navy Department obtained 631.345 acres
in fee through condemnation proceedings on 6 February 1942. The
Final Judgment stated that the land shall revert to and revest
in the State of California if the land is no longer used by the
U.S. for national defense purposes. The 11th Naval District headquarters
at San Diego officially announced through Lt. Gen Thomas Holcomb,
commandant of the Marine Corps, the name of the Marine Corps
training base near Niland to be Camp Robert H. Dunlap in honor
Gen Robert Henry Dunlap, U.S.M.C.
Construction of Camp Dunlap was completed
and the camp commissioned on 15 October 1942. Improvements included
an estimated 30 buildings, a water treatment system, distribution
system, sewage collection and treatment system, over 8.2 miles
of paved streets, recreational areas including a 76 x 165 foot
foot swimming pool, and concrete fuel tanks. The 631.345 acre
site was used by the Marine Corps as headquarters and cantonment
area for the 114,332 acre Camp Dunlap Naval Reservation at which
over 185,000 troops received special field and anti-aircraft
artillery training over a 3-year wartime high-activity period.
After the war, military operations at this location wound down,
but a "fair sized" contingent was said to remain until
1949. A skeleton crew was maintained until the base was dismantled
The land was determined to be no longer
required by the Department of Defense and conveyed to the State
of California by quitclaim deed dated 6 October 1961. The deed
did not contain any restrictions, a recapture clause, or any
restoration provisions. All of the former Camp Dunlap buildings
have been removed. The remaining slabs are not proposed for removal.
The base was located at the present-day location of Slab City
(also known as The Slabs)
Source: Los Angeles District,
US Army Corps of Engineers