Historic California Posts, Camps,
Stations and Airfields
by Sgt. Maj. Dan Sebby, Military Historian,
California Military Department
Located on the present day Arp Ranch off
Placer Hills Road in Colfax, Camp Placer was established during
the Great Depression by California's State Relief Agency as part
of the state's efforts to combat unemployment caused by the collapse
of the economy. Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the need
to secure and provide a static defense of the Southern Pacific
Railroad's infrastructure through the Sierra Nevada Mountains
caused the Army to station troops along the route.
Local histories indicate that the site was garrisoned initially
by Company C, 53rd Infantry Regiment, a Regular Army rifle company
from Fort Ord's 7th Infantry Division. Previously, these soldiers
were housed in Colfax's Memorial Hall and in tents. In February
1942, the 754th Military Police Battalion (Zone of the Interior)
arrived at Camp Flint in Auburn and assumed the railroad security
duties. Local histories indicate that the MPs occupied Camp Placer
in April of that year. The 754th Military Police Battalion's
four companies (A through D), or elements thereof, were placed
at Sacramento, Camp Flint, Camp Placer, the Soda Springs Hotel,
and Sparks, Nevada. A fifth company, Headquarters Company, remained
at Camp Flint. Local histories and the 1 June 1943 Army of the
United States Station List indicated that Company C, of the 754th
garrisoned the post.
Two soldiers from Company C were killed in truck accident on
27 August 1943. The following article appeared in the 2 September
1943 edition of the Auburn Journal-Republican gives details of
Tragic Death of Soldiers-Services will be held at 10 o'clock
Friday morning from the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Auburn
for Corp. Emilio Salazar. The tragic death of two young men from
the local army camp last Friday afternoon cast a gloom over the
entire community. Both had been stationed in this territory for
many months, and one had married an Auburn girl. The deaths were
the result of an accident on the back road to Colfax just a short
distance from Clipper Gap. An army truck containing a number
of soldiers from Camp Placer turned over when passing a lumber
truck driven by R. B. Monroe and owned by the W. S. Watkins &
Son of Reno, Nevada. The trucks were traveling in opposite directions.
When the army truck turned over, the gas tank exploded and Corp.
Emilio Salazar and Pfc. Arthur L. Henry were burned so severely
that they died at the Highland Hospital in Auburn where they
were rushed for medical attention. Salazar died while being placed
on the operating table, and Henry died a few minutes later. Corp.
Salazar, who was driving the army truck, also suffered internal
injuries. Corp. Salazar is survived by a wife, Mrs. Genevieve
Salazar, who resides at 146 Linden Street in Auburn. The couple
was married about two months ago. He entered the service from
Weston, Colorado, and was known by almost everyone in Auburn
as he was the driver of the jeep which called for the mail at
the post office and made other business trips to and from the
army camp and city of Auburn. Pfc. Arthur Henry entered the service
from Rugby, ND. Corp. Peter Conduracki, who was in the air corps
branch of the army and was attached to Company D, 754 MP, for
ration purposes, suffered two broken legs, burns, and other bruises
in the accident. Pfc. Donald Rode and Pfc. Kenneth Burt, both
of Company D, were bruised and burned. They are patients at the
Camp Beale army hospital where Corp. Conduracki was also taken.
Corp. Earl Lambert was injured slightly but was on duty the next
day. Staff Sergeant Ivan E. Simpson, who was riding on the army
truck at the time of the accident, was thrown clear of the wreck,
and the army investigation disclosed Sgt. Simpson endangered
his own life by removing the injured from the burning army truck.
An army investigation held none to blame.
As World War II progressed, the need for a static defense of
the railroad lessened and as a result, the 754th Military Police
Battalion was transferred to Camp Beale (now Beale Air Force
Base) on 18 December 1943. With the battalion's departure, the
U.S. Army placed the camp into an inactive status. It is not
currently known when the Army disposed of Camp Placer.
These images date to California State
Relief Agency's possession of Camp Placer.