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Camp Ibis
(Camp Ibis Army Air Field)
 
Camp Ibis with the airfield in the foreground circa 1943
 
One of the World War II camps forming the Desert Training Center, known after October 20, 1943, as the California Arizona Maneuver Area. it was discontinued on April 30, 1944 Camp Ibis was constructed during the period of November 8, 1942-March 28, 1943. The 4th Armored Division, under Major General John S. Wood, was at Camp Ibis until June 1943, when its place was taken by the 9th Armored Division and later the 11th Armored Division, commanded by Major General John W. Leonard. Most of the troops trained at Camp Ibis in desert survival, gunnery, and armored vehicle tactics were destined to join General George S. Patton's Third Army, far from a desert battlefield. The post was located 15 miles northwest of Needles, close to the point where the borders of California, Arizona, and Nevada meet.
 
The camp is located 1.9 miles north of the junction of old Route 66 and US Highway 95.

Army Corps of Engineers History
 

Location: The Camp Ibis site is located in an undeveloped region of San Bernardino County, California approximately 21 miles northwest of Needles, California. Camp This is located in:

Site History: In January 1942, the sucess of the German Army in North Africa led the U.S. War Department to focus Army training efforts in areas with a desert terrain and environment. On 5 February 1942, the Chief of Staff, General Headquarters, approved of a Desert Training Center and designated Major General George S. Patton as the Center's Commanding General. The total maneuver area encompassed 12 million acres, making it the largest training area in the U.S. Close to one million troops trained in this area between 1942 and 1944.

Within the organization of the Desert Training Center, the Camp This site was established as one of the several divisional camps. Therefore, under Real Estate Directive 959, dated 13 May 1942, 5,760 acres were transferred from the Department of the Interior to the War Department to establish Camp This as part of the Desert Training Center. Two tracts incompassing 4,455.5 acres were acquired by permit. One tract, encompassing 640 acres, was acquired from the State of California under the terms of Revocable Permit No. 12, dated 24 March 1942. Another tract, encompassing 3,815.5 acres, was acquired from the Southern Pacific Company under the terms of a comprehensive permissive use permit, dated 11 February 1942. Thus, a total of 10,215.5 acres were acquired for Camp Ibis. A license dated 24 August 1943, was granted by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Company. This no-area license established a communication line right-of-way for a telephone line.

The Camp was established during the Spring of 1942 and ultimately occupied by the 4th Armored Division. The 4th Armored Division moved out of Camp Ibis in June 1943 and the 9th Armored Division simultaneously moved in. The 11th Armored Division was the last division which occupied Camp Ibis. Temporary improvements constructed on the site include 28 enlisted men's shower buildings, 14 officer's shower buildings, 173 latrines, 234 various pyramided wood tent frames, and a 50,000 gallon wooden elevated storage tank. Equipment installed on the site included deep well pumps, a chlorinator, platform scales, three 700 gallon drums. The only permanent structure constructed on the site was one 50,000 gallon concrete reservoir. At least 23 firing ranges were provided on the site. The ranges accommodated pistols, rifles, machine guns and tank guns. These ranges were located on the acquired site and on portions of 21,945 acres which surrounded the formally acquired property.

By March 1943, the North Africa Campaign was in its final stages and the primary mission of the Desert Training Center changed. By the middle of 1943, the troops who originally came for desert training maneuvers, were now deployed worldwide. Therefore, to reflect that change in mission, the name of the Center was changed to the California-Arizona Maneuver Area (CAMA). The CAMA was to serve as a Theater of Operations to train combat troops, service units and staffs under conditions similar to those which might be
encountered overseas. The CAMA was enlarged to include both a Communications Zone and Combat Zone, approximately 350 miles wide and 250 miles long.

Toward the end of 1943, the need for service units for overseas duty increased dramatically, leaving little or no support for the CAMA. Without service unit support, commanders made the decision in January of 1944 to suspend operation of the CAMA. The entire CAMA was declared surplus on 30 March 1944 and the Army formally announced that the CAMA was to be closed by 1 May 1944.

Camp Ibis was declared surplus on 16 March 1944. On that date, 5,760 acres were transferred from the War Department to the Department of the Interior. The permissive use permit with the Southern Pacific Company, which allowed use of 3,815.5 acres, was terminated on 17 February 1945. Revocable Permit No. 12, for 640 acres, was terminated by the State of California on 8 March 1945. The license with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company, was terminated on 26 September 1945.

Activities on the CAMA nominally continued until the 1950s while equipment and materials were collected and shipped and decontamination squads searched out and destroyed unexploded ordnance. A letter from the Army Corps of Engineers to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), dated 3 May 1951, relinquished custody of the 5,760 acres of public lands to the Department of the Interior and stated that all improvements placed on the property had been removed.

In another letter from the Army Corps of Engineers to the BLM, dated 31 May 1951, it was stated that the site was carefully and visually inspected and cleared of explosives that were reasonably possible to detect. However, the letter recommended that an area of 20,640 acres, including 3,840 acres of the Camp This site, berestricted to surface use only. Another 11,520 acres, including the remaining 6,375 acres of the site, was certified clear.

Much of the original roadway network is deteriorating due to sheet erosion and the emergence of natural vegetation. Entire sections of the encampment area are now inaccessible to vehicular traffic. Rock alignments still mark what remains of the roadways. Throughout the camp, however, artifacts of camplife can be found including eating utensils, ration cans, and bottles.

A monitoring program, which includes a permanent photographic record, will be implemented by the BLM to ensure the stability of the site. Preservation of the site and protection from damage are primary concerns of the BLM; they do not want any surface disturbance of the site. Unless there is a clear and present danger, the BLM does not desire restoration.

Portions of the site are currently owned by the Department of the Interior-Bureau of Land Management, the Southern Pacific Land Company, the State of California, and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company.

Source: Los Angeles District, US Army Corps of Engineers


Camp Ibis Army Air Field
Courtesy of Abandoned and Little Known Airfields

The airfield at Camp Ibis was built adjacent to the west side of the camp, presumably built to support the training operations. The Army Corps of Engineers history of Camp Ibis includes no mention of the airfield. The dates of construction & closure, and other specific history of the airfield are unknown. The Camp Ibis airfield was not depicted at all on the 1944 LA Sectional Chart.

The Camp Ibis airfield is labeled "Landing Strip" on the 1984 USGS topographic maps,but is not depicted at all on other USGS maps, and is not depicted at all (even as an abandoned airfield) on 2002 aeronautical charts.

As depicted on the 1984 USGS topo map, the airfield at Camp Ibis consists of a single 4,500' runway, oriented north/south.

The Camp Ibis Airfield site is located along the west side of Route 95, two miles north of Arrowhead Junction.

 

Camp Ibis Army Air Field circa 1943
 
Updated 11 May 2007

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