Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
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
Association with prominent individuals
Major General William S. Graves assumed
command of the 8th Infantry Division at Camp Fremont in 1918.
Lieutenant General Laurin L. Williams
served at Camp Fremont as a second lieutenant.
Brigadier General James Edward Wharton
was stationed at Camp Fremont at the start of his career during
World War I.
General John K. Cannon completed his initial
military training at Camp Fremont.
Warren Grimm, All-American football player
and Army officer, completed his training at Camp Fremont before
taking part in the Siberian Intervention.
Philip Johnston, one of the organizers
of the World War II Navajo code talkers, was a World War I veteran
who had trained at Camp Fremont.
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.
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
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
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.)
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
Major General John
F. Morrison (front row, center) Commanding General, 8th Division
and Staff, Camp Fremont, 1918
Order of Battle of United States Land Forces in the World War
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:
New Mexico: 53
Other Camps: 25,140
Ordered salvafed in December 1918 except
the base hospital which was turned over to the Public Health
Service. Post abandoned in September 1919
training camp, located two miles west of Palo Alto, San Mateo
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.