Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Camp Fremont
Battalion Drill, Camp Fremont 1918
Estahlished on July 18, 1917, to serve as a training camp for the 41st Division, National Guard, consisting of troops from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming, it was located at Menlo Park, near Palo Alto, and named in honor of Major General John C. Fremont. Later, orders directed the organization of the division at Camp Greene, and the 8th Division was concentrated here. Construction began on July 24, 1917, and included 1,124 structures. The 7,203 acre reservation was ordered salvaged on December 19, 1918, and the buildings were sold at auction. The camp was abandoned in September 1919.
During preparation for possible entry into World War I, the U.S. Army determined a need existed for a post on the west coast of the United States to train National Guard units for combat. Camp Fremont was constructed on vacant land in and around the area of Palo Alto and Menlo Park.[ Camp Fremont consisted of slightly more than 7,200 acres (29 km2) and contained approximately 1,125 structures, mostly temporary buildings constructed of wood. Construction started on July 24, 1917, and the new installation was named in honor of Major General John C. Fremont, an early hero of California
Camp Fremont served as a training site for the National Guard's 41st Infantry Division, which included soldiers from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming. The 41st Division was later moved to Camp Greene, where it completed its training before departing for fighting in France. The 8th Infantry Division then occupied Camp Fremont. Slated for combat in France, the 8th Division was later assigned the mission of fighting in Russia during the Siberian Intervention.
Camp Fremont was also home to the 332nd Auxiliary Remount Depot, part of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps. The depot was authorized 5,000 animals, and averaged about 2,300. Remount depots were organized to procure, train and condition horses and mules, and then dispatch them to the units that required them.

Association with prominent individuals
After the end of World War I combat, there was no longer a use for Camp Fremont, and the Army ordered the post closed. The buildings were sold at auction, and the camp was abandoned in January, 1920.
Several new businesses were begun in Menlo Park and Palo Alto to provide goods and services to soldiers at Camp Fremont, many of which stayed in existence after the post closed. Menlo Park received its first paved streets and its first municipal water and gas services during World War I, both of which were constructed by the 8th Division engineers.

The post hospital on Willow Road in Menlo Park later became the site of a Veterans Administration hospital. It is now also the location of Stanford University's Arbor Free Clinic. Two popular restaurants, MacArthur Park (which once housed Palo Alto's community center) and the Oasis Beer Garden are both located in former Camp Fremont buildings. MacArthur Park Restaurant was the former YWCA "Hostess House" designed by famed Hearst Castle achitect Julia Morgan in 1918.
The Peninsula Mobilizes for War
by Don Kazak
Extracted from Palo Alto: The First Hundred Years
If you stand at the corner of Santa Cruz Avenue and El Camino Real in Menlo Park and look south, you can see where the road goes uphill to cross San Francisquito Creek. Standing at the same spot and looking west, it's hard to see where Santa Cruz makes its half-left turn on its way up to the Alameda.
Now, with those two distant reference points in mind, imagine everything between them, where you are standing and the creek, which is a lot of real estate, 25,000 acres or so. That was Camp Fremont in 1917-18, home of the 8th Division of the U.S. Army, which was being trained to go to France and fight in trenches against the Kaiser's army.
Camp Fremont had 27,000 men at its peak, and a curious history. Construction began in July 1917; was halted for three weeks by the War Department at one point; saw its troops transferred to the East Coast; finally received the 8th Division, which was trained for France but ended up in Siberia; had a chance to become a permanent Army camp but was closed after the war; and saw its buildings all dismantled or moved, leaving Menlo Park much as it had found it--a sleepy little hamlet of 2,300 souls.
In between, a lot happened.
Menlo Park and San Francisco merchants rented every available store space, a post office, church, library and theater were built along with nine YMCA huts, the Bank of Palo Alto opened a branch in Menlo Park (and promptly closed it when the camp closed, to the dismay of Menlo Park residents), Beltramo's Winery and every other similar store and tavern within five miles of the camp in San Mateo County went "dry" by decree of the Army and county, Sequoia High School opened a branch on the base (teaching arithmetic, English, typing, shorthand and accounting) and then closed it because of poor attendance, and lots of guns, machine guns, hand grenades, cannon and whatnot were shot off in the interests of training the soldiers to fight.
The camp had infantry, cavalry and 10,000 animals--horses and mules-- which were based farther east on Ravenswood Avenue at a "remount station" near the camp hospital (which would become the Veteran's Administration hospital on Willow Road.)
Major General John F. Morrison (front row, center) Commanding General, 8th Division and Staff, Camp Fremont, 1918
The irony of Camp Fremont, of course, is that the 8th Division never made it to the fighting in France, with the armistice reached before they arrived. Part of the 8th did get to see some action, however--in Siberia.
But the area was not left empty-handed when the camp was dismantled 18 months after it was assembled. Besides the addition of new businesses in both Menlo Park and Palo Alto, Menlo Park had its first streets and its first water and gas services, left behind by the 8th Division engineers.
Camp Fremont also left behind some of its 1,000 buildings. Two popular restaurants of today, MacArthur Park--which once housed Palo Alto's first community center--and the Oasis Beer Garden are both located in former Camp Fremont buildings.
Extract, Order of Battle of United States Land Forces in the World War (1931-1949)
History: Named in honor of Maj General John C. Fremont , USA, explorer of the West, 1842-49. established 18 July 1917 to serve as a training camp for the 41st Division (National Guard). In August 1917, however, neworders directed mobilization of this division at Camp Greene, NC. Thereafter the camp was set aside for the 8th Division (Regular Army), which occupied it for mobilization and training, January to October 1918. Constructionstarted 24 July 1917 and continued through 1918.
Some National Guard troops were first mustered in but soon transferred. The first inducted men reported 16-31 December 1917; the last 1-15 November 1918. Approximate numbers received from states and other sources:
Ordered salvafed in December 1918 except the base hospital which was turned over to the Public Health Service. Post abandoned in September 1919
Description: Temporary training camp, located two miles west of Palo Alto, San Mateo County.
  • Camp/Base Hospital: Beginning 6 July 1917, a camp hospital with inadequate accomidations was in temporary operation. The base hospital was organized 13 November 1917, treating all cases arising in the camp, as well as medical, sugucal and venereal cases from overseas.
  • Officers' Training School: Fourth Series - In operation 15 May - 1 September 1918. Stidents from 40th Division School located a Camp Kearny absorbed in July 1918.
  • Size and capacity:
    Camp Commanders:
    Army Units Assigned to Camp Fremont

     Data Source


    Order of Battle of United States Land Forces in the World War (1931-1949)
    World War I
    Station Complement
    Auxiliary Remount Depot 332
    Bakers and Cooks School
    Base Hospital
    Camp headquarters
    Development Battalion
    Engineer Depot Detachment 470
    Fire Truck and Hose Company 338
    Machine Shop Truck Unit 338
    Medical Supply Depot
    Ordnance Depot Company 132
    Provost Guard Company
    Signal Supply Detachment
    8th Division
    All units (less 62nd Infantry Regiment and 8th Supply Train), mobilizing for overseas deplyment.
    19th Division
    2nd Infantry Regiment, mobilizing for overseas deployment.
    Nondivisional Units
    4th, 5th (I), 7th (I) and 9th Companies, Coast Defenses of San Francisco
    15th, 301st and 302nd Cavalry Regiments
    Base Hospitals 47, 50 and 95
    Motor Transport Companies 202 and 203
    Bakery Companies 23, 36, 50, 338, 340, 373 and 393
    43rd Battalion, US Guards