Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Camp Placer
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 this accident:

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.
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Updated 10 August 2017