Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Camp McQuaide
The California National Guard training site for the 250th Coast Artillery Regiment was established in Capitola in 1926. The camp was located near the Santa Cruz-Capitola Airport (now occupied by Capitola and New Brighton Middle Schools) and basically used as a summer camp by the 250th for a two week maneuver each year. Capitola's residents objected to the firing of guns during maneuvers so, in 1938, the camp was relocated to another site.
The new location was 400 acres of newly purchased land off the coast near San Andreas Road. It was at this site that the camp was dedicated and named in memory of the deceased, Major Joseph P. McQuaide, who had been the Chaplain of the 1st California Infantry and the 250th Coast Artillery for many years. Major, then Father McQuaide, was ordained in 1892, and served with the First California Volunteers in the Philippines and the Boxer rebellion in China. Father McQuaide rejoined the National Guard of California in 1917 and was assigned as Post Chaplain at Fort Winfield Scott, San Francisco. He went overseas, to France, with the 62nd Coast Artillery. Chaplain McQuaide died March 29, 1924.
Following the expansion of the Army in 1940, the camp was developed as a Coast Artillery Replacement Training Center. In 1943, the post was converted to the West Coast Processing Center, the official stockade for all the stateside Army AWOLs and other troublemakers. After World War II, the site was considered surplus and decommissioned. In 1948 the empty camp was considered for a local junior college but lacked countywide support. It was subsequently purchased by the Seventh-Day Adventists who founded the Monterey Bay Academy.
A member of the 250th Coast Artillery at Camp McQuaide, circa 1941
Camp McQuaide
by Justin Ruhge

Camp McQuaide was established in 1926 as a National Guard Summer tent encampment located at the then Capitola Airport. The camp was moved in 1938 to the location of the present-day Monterey Bay Academy of the Seventh Day Adventist Church on San Andreas Road in Watsonville. It was named in honor of National Guard Chaplain Father Joseph P. McQuaide who was born in Boston in 1865 and died March 29, 1924. A graduate of Santa Clara University, he served in the Spanish-American War and in World War I. When Camp McQuaide was named it was the only military reservation in the United States named for a chaplain.

During World War II Camp McQuaide was expanded to a semi-permanent camp on 664 acres with the usual buildings such as headquarters, hospital, theater, barracks, officer's quarters and maintenance shops. The camp was designed to be an Army replacement camp for the coast artillery and later the anti-aircraft artillery. It was a sub-post of Fort Ord whose first commander was Lieutenant Colonel Eugene I. Foster. Up to 5,000 troops were trained at one time.

Camp McQuaide was home to the 250th Coast Artillery. It was also the training camp for the 64th Signal Corps, 76th Cavalry, 154th Medics and Naval Radar units. Training was given to
the replacement troops on the 155-mm howitzer, the 120-mm M2 and 90-mm M1 anti-aircraft guns, the 37-mm and 40-mm rapid-fire guns, and the 50 and 30-caliber machine guns. Training was also given on the use of the Sperry and General Electric Search lights. All firings were into the ocean off the Camp bluffs. Because of its artillery training, the Camp newspaper was called The Overs and Shorts.

2,000 military prisoners-of-war were also housed at the Camp during the war. When the Camp was closed in late 1947, the prisoners were transferred to Camp Cooke.

In 1948 the Camp was transferred to the Seventh Day Adventist Church who used it to form the Monterey Bay Academy.

References: The 250th Coast Artillery Camp McQuaide, California, 1941, Army and Navy Publishing Co, Inc., Baton Rogue, LA; Overs and Shorts, 1943; Watsonville Memories That Linger Volume II by Betty Lewis, Santa Cruz, California, 1980; Santa Cruz County Place Names by Donald Thomas Clark, Santa Cruz Historical Society, 1986; Restless Paradise, Santa Cruz County, An illustrated History by Jennie Dennis Verardo and Denzil Verardo, Ph.D., Produced in Cooperation with the Santa Cruz Area Chamber of Commerce
Corps of Engineers History
The 250th Coast Artillery Regiment (250th) of the California National Guard held summer training camps at Capitola, California between 1926 and 1938, at which time the Regiment began meeting at a former National Guard summer camp site located six miles west of Watsonville, California. In 1938, this camp was officially dedicated in memory of Major Joseph P. McQuaide, Chaplain of the 250th for many years. Camp McQuaide was a coast artillery training center (the Coast Artillery Seacoast Replacement Training Center) and the Headquarters of the 250th. During coastal defense training, the camp's two stationary Panama Mounts and several tractor-drawn, 155mm M1917 GPF seacoast guns would fire at target barges off the coast. The camp also had five firing ranges which were used to train Army personnel in the proper use of hand guns, rifles, and anti-aircraft guns. By 1942, the War Department had acquired 1,032.3 acres
in the vicinity, although the camp's boundaries only encompassed 407.8 acres and the remaining 624 acres were never developed. During the early 1940s, Camp McQuaide supported a community of 1,900 officers and enlisted men. The improvements at the camp, which included roads, utility distribution systems, 36 permanent buildings and 354 wood framed tents called hutments, were constructed by the Department of Defense (DoD) between 1938 and 1942. The camp's utility systems included an on-site sewage treatment system, an incinerator, and a potable water system with three ground water wells. A hospital with 100 beds and a fire station that housed three fire engines were also located at the camp.

After the threat of coastal invasion was substantially reduced as a result of the Battle of Midway, the camp was convened into disciplinary barracks housing U.S. Army prisoners and guards in 1943. In July of 1946 there were 1,700 prisoners at the camp of which 600 attempted to escape by setting fire to the camp. The fire destroyed 36 temporary hutments but no prisoners were reported to have escaped or been hurt. This escape attempt spurred the closure of the prison camp. During 1946, 380.5 leased acres and 244.0 permit acres were terminated. The War
Assets Administration (WAA) assumed accountability for the remaining 407.8 acres of which 300.0 acres were quitclaimed to the Central California Conference Association of Seventh-Day Adventists (CCCASDA) in 1947. The CCCASDA converted the camp into a boarding school which is now the Monterey Bay Academy (MBA). The Academy has a work-study program for high-school-age students and houses both students and faculty members. The campus comprises an active dairy farm, commercial laundry, a small agricultural farm, and several private
industries, all of which hire students from the high school for labor. General Services Administration (GSA), as the WAA had come to be known, appears to have transferred the remaining 107.8 leased acres to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sometime after 21 May, 1981.
US Army Center of Military History Data Cards
Coast Artillery Replacement Training Center (Seacoast)
Special Training Unit
West Coast Processing Center
Pacific Coast Branch, United States Disciplinary Barracks
Aerial Views of Camp McQuaide


 Cantonement Area, Camp McQuaide circa 1941

 Cantonement Area, Camp McQuaide, circa 1946
Item No.  Description



 Parade Ground

 Post Headquarters, still standing as of 2011.

 Fire Station, still standing as of 2011.

 Warehouses and shop, still standing as of 2011

Post Theater, still standing as of 2011

Barracks and Mess Halls.

Flag Pole
Army Units Assigned to Camp McQuaide

 Data Source


  7 December 1941 
  • 250th Coast Artillery Regiment (155mm Gun, Tractor Drawn) (less 1st Battalion)
  • Corps Area Support Unit 1958 (Station Complement)
 Army of the United States Station List 1 June 1943
Army Ground Forces:

Band (Coast Artillery Replacement Training Center)

Coast Artillery Seacoast Replacement Training Center

  • Headquarters and Headquarters Battery
  • Coast Artillery Officer Replacement Pool
  • 101st through 104th Coast Artillery Training Battalions

Army Service Force:

  • 1958th Service Command Unit (Station Complement)
 Army of the United States Station List 7 April 1945
Army Service Forces
  • 439th Army Service Forces Band
  • West Coast Processing Center
  • 1958th Service Command Unit (Station Complement)
 Army of the United States Station List 7 May 1946
Army Service Forces
  • 1958th Service Command Unit (Pacific Coast Branch, United States Disciplinary Barracks)
Additional History
Camp McQuaide History Greg Krenzelok
US Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District History
Video: 250th Coast Artillery Regiment (Harbor Defense) Annual Field Training, circa July 1929
Extract, War Department Inventory of Owned, Sponsored and Leased Facilities, 1945
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Updated 1 October 2017
Updated 3 July 2017