(Camp Calvin B.
Matthews, Marine Corps Range La Jolla)
By Justin M. Ruhge, Goleta Valley Historical
Camp Matthews was a Marine Corps rifle
training post near La Jolla. All Marines had to pass the "Record
Day" qualifications. The rifle was the 1903 Springfield.
Later the M1 Garand became the standard rifle for American troops.
The Camp was named in honor of Brigadier General Calvin Bruce
Matthews, a trophy rifle marksman.
In the winter of 1918, the Marines established their new rifle
range about 13 miles north of San Diego and just east of La Jolla.
The range was built under the direction of Brigadier General
Earl C. Long, who was then a Captain. Initially, five or six
Marines were stationed at what became known as Rifle Range, Marine
Corps Base, San Diego.
Captain Karl J. Busse became the facility's first commanding
officer in 1921, and the first permanent structure, the headquarters
building, was erected in 1927.
During World War II thousands of Marines, Navy and Army troops
trained at Matthews. New service buildings were built to accommodate
the increased output of training personnel. The Marine Corps
Gazette, stated that while at Matthews, " a Marine talks,
thinks, lives and practices shooting from early morning until
late at night. Everyone is put through the paces on numerous
ranges, from distances of 50 to 1,000 yards. The men shoot in
standing, kneeling, sitting, off-hand and prone positions, firing
more and more each day until the full course is fired on record
In 1964, the site of Camp Matthews was turned over to the University
of California: The Marine Corps relocated rifle training to Camp
Pendleton in Oceanside, California.
San Diego's Military Heritage, June 1994, Vol. 1, No. 1.
pg. 3. La Jolla, San Diego County.
by CW4 Mark Denger, California Center
for Military History
Up to World War II the camp
had no name and was known simply as the Marine Rifle Range, La
Jolla, and fell under the command of Marine Corps Base, San Diego.
The camp was officially designated Camp Matthews on March 23,
1942 in honor of Lieutenant Colonel (later Brigadier General)
Calvin B. Matthews, USMC., a distinguished Marine marksman of
the 1930s period.
Camp Matthews continued
to serve as the firing range for the Marines with a permanent
garrison of 700 men. In March 1942, a new administrative building
was ready for occupancy, along with a large mess hall, a post
office, swimming pool and outdoor theater.
Marine Corps recruitment
following Pearl Harbor so taxed the ranges limited facilities,
that some 5,000 Marines who enlisted shortly after Pearl Harbor,
had to be rushed to an Army camp at San Luis Obispo for their weapons training. During the peak of
the war as many as 9,000 men were rushed through the range every
three weeks. The rifle range was also used by Marine Aviation
units, as well as Army and Navy units.
Camp Matthews continued
to function through the Korean War and into the 1960s. In May
1963 it was necessary for the Marines to discontinue using one
of their 65 target ranges because of civilian encroachment and
consequent safety hazards. Finally it was decided to relocate
Camp Matthews and the Marine Corps Recruit Depot's weapons training
to Camp Pendleton.
Closing ceremonies occurred
at Camp Matthews on 21 August 1964 and 46 years of Marine training
at that portion of the San Diego Marine Base came to an end.
US Army Corps
of Engineers History
Camp Calvin B. Matthews or Marine Corps
Rifle Range Camp Matthews or Marine Corps Rifle Range, La Jolla
(prior to World War II) or more simply Camp Matthews was a United
States Marine Corps military base from 1917 until 1964, when
the base was decommissioned and transferred to the University
of California to be part of the new University of California,
San Diego (UCSD) campus. Over a million Marine recruits as well
as other shooters (such as Marines stationed at Miramar) received
their marksmanship training at this military base.
Location and Boundaries
Camp Matthews was located in La Jolla,
San Diego, California. The base's eastern boundary was present-day
Regents Road. Its northern boundary was present-day Voigt Drive
(formerly Old Miramar Road) and Matthews Lane and extended westward
to Gilman Drive (formerly Coast Highway), which was its western
boundary. The bases's southern boundary was near present-day
La Jolla Village Drive and a "panhandle" extended southward
along what is today Interstate 5 and extended past present-day
Nobel Drive. United States Army base Camp Callan was to the west
of Camp Matthews. The Marine base at Miramar was about 3 miles
(4.8 km) east of Camp Matthews.
The Marine Corps leased 363 acres (1.47
km2) of land from the City of San Diego in 1917 for use as a
marksmanship training facility for Marine recruits being trained
at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. However, a permanent
detachment of Marines was not stationed at this base until 1923.
It was first used as a rifle range in late 1918. The Marines
built the first eight targets of "A" range themselves
with picks and shovels. In 1925 five more targets were added.
The first headquarters buildings were built in 1927 and the first
detachment barracks were built in 1928. During the 1930s and
1940s, more buildings and barracks were constructed as well more
firing ranges. During these years, the base had no official name
but was called Marine Rifle Range, La Jolla. In 1937, the U.S.
government terminated the lease and acquired 544 acres (2.20
km2) in fee from the City of San Diego. This acquisition consisted
of the formerly leased area as well as additional land to the
east. The government also leased an additional 29.75 acres (120,400
m2) from the City of San Diego. This newly leased area was in
the northeastern corner of the base. The total area of the base
was then 573.75 acres (2.3 km2). Except for a few ranch houses,
all of the area acquired was undeveloped at the time of acquisition.
World War II and the Korean
After the attack on Pearl Harbor and the
entry of the United States into World War II, the base was busier
than ever. At the peak of the base's activity in 1944, it put
9,000 recruits through marksmanship training every 3 weeks. Marine
recruits marched north from MCRD, completed their marksmanship
training and left the camp. This was because MCRD was never suitable
for marksmanship training. During this year, the base had 700
permanent personnel stationed there. However, by the mid-1950s
only 120 Marines were stationed at Camp Matthews. During World
War II and the Korean War, more administrative buildings as well
as street and utility systems were built.
World War II Rifle
In 1942, the base was officially named
Camp Calvin B. Matthews. It was named after Brigadier General
Calvin B. Matthews a famous Marine marksman of the 1930s. The
naming officially took place on March 23, 1942.
Closing and Transfer
As the city of La Jolla expanded after
World War II, local people became more and more concerned over
the close proximity of a military rifle range facility in their
neighborhood. The La Jolla Town Council began trying to get the
United States Navy to close Camp Matthews in 1956 but the Navy
resisted. In 1959, Congressman Bob Wilson introduced a bill in
Congress that would transfer Camp Matthews to the University
of California for the planned San Diego campus. In 1962, Camp
Matthews was determined to be surplus by the Marine Corps. In
May 1963, one of the 65 target ranges could no longer be used
because of the safety hazard it posed to the encroaching civilian
population. The base finally closed in 1964, the same year the
first undergraduate class entered Revelle College, UCSD's first
undergraduate college. Closing ceremonies took place on August
21, 1964 but the base was not officially closed until October
6, 1964. The Navy conveyed titles and interest in 544 acres (2.2
km2) and improvements to the Regents of the University of California
on September 23 of this year. The lease on the 29.75 acres (120,400
m2) with the City of San Diego was terminated in this year as
well. The University of California began developing the base
property for use as a campus the following year. After Camp Matthews
closed, Marine marksmanship training was conducted further north
at Edson Range in Camp Pendleton and continues to be conducted
there up to the present day.
Camp Matthews contained at least fifteen
different shooting ranges as well as various buildings and other
infrastructure during its existence. The shooting facilities
6 rifle ranges
1 pistol range
1 mortar/flame thrower/hand grenade court/bazooka
range (Range H)
3 small bore ranges
1 skeet range
3 school ranges (non-shooting practice
The base had a number of buildings as
well. It had 7 barracks, approximately 270 tents, administration
buildings, quartermaster storerooms, magazines, an armory, maintenance
shops, a dispensary, a service station, and a main post exchange.
Only a few of the original Marine Corps buildings still exist.
They are primarily located along Myers Drive in the central part
of the present-day campus and were used for administrative buildings,
the campus bookstore, as well as other uses over the years. This
central location of the UCSD campus was called the Matthews Campus
but is now called the University Center and Sixth College. A
few locations on campus are named after Camp Matthews. They include
Matthews Lane (which is part of the northern boundary of the
former base) and Matthews Quad, an area in the center of the
UCSD campus bound by Myers Drive, Lyman Walk, Russell Lane, and
Rupertus Way. The original flagpole from the base still stands
on a grass island in the middle of Myers Drive. A monument commemorating
the former base stands there as well as a fountain designed by
Michael Asher which is part of the Stuart Collection. The rear
entrance sentry booth still stands in a UCSD parking lot. Drawings
and graffiti left by Marine recruits still decorate the interior
of the sentry booth and are now protected by plexiglas. Another
surviving Camp Matthews building is the Ché Café.
Current Land Use
The area Camp Matthews used to occupy
has been divided-up for various uses. During the 1960s, UCSD
disposed of former Camp Matthews land in the following way:
84.7 acres (343,000 m2) went to the California
Department of Transportation for the construction of the San
Diego Freeway (Interstate 5).
26 acres (110,000 m2) were conveyed the
the Veterans Administration for the construction of the VA San
Diego Medical Center.
Approximately 39 acres (160,000 m2) were
transferred to private parties for commercial and residential
development. This land included areas now occupied by the La
Jolla Village Square shopping center and the Mormon temple across
Interstate 5 from it and also the Sheraton La Jolla Hotel.
The rest of the land currently belongs
to UCSD and much of the current campus is built on this land.
The 29.75 acres (120,400 m2) that the City of San Diego previously
leased to the military are now leased to UCSD.
Source: Los Angeles DIstrict,
US Army Corps of Engineers