Camp Lockett

Camp Lockett

Camp Lockett is a former U.S. Army military site located in Campo, California, east of San Diego, near the Mexican border. Camp Lockett has historical connections to the Buffalo Soldiers.


Initial construction phase in 1941

The initial phase, which occurred in 1941, housed the 11th Cavalry Regiment. Standard Army Quartermaster Corps Series 700 and 800 plans were used for the original camp and included housing areas (barracks, officers quarters, day room, mess hall, and storehouse), stable areas (stables, blacksmith shops, and hay sheds), a veterinary facility, the quartermaster area, motor pool area, hospital (staff quarters and wards), administration buildings, recreation buildings, a chapel, and post exchange. Original infrastructure included roads and streets, sewage treatment plant, incinerator, and water supply system. Importantly, during this time several buildings from the pre-Army era were converted to military support uses, including the 1885 Gaskill Stone Store. In 1942, the Army transferred the 11th Cavalry Regiment to Fort Benning Georgia and converted it to motorized armor. At Camp Lockett, the 4th Cavalry Brigade (including the 9th, 10th, and 28th Black Cavalry Regiments) replaced the 11th Cavalry. The Western Defense Command’s Southern Land Frontier Sector also moved to Lockett at this time. This command consisted primarily of administrative personnel responsible for planning the defense of southern Arizona and California.

econd construction phase of 1942-1943

The expanded presence necessitated a second phase of construction from 1942 to 1943, which conformed to standard Theater of Operations plans, an even more expedient construction than the mobilization architectureutilized in the first phase. Most of the new construction centered on additional stable and troop housing areas for the 28th Cavalry one mile north of the original encampment. The 28th area included additional stables, hay sheds, and blacksmith shops. The original veterinary complex was expanded for the 2nd Veterinary Company. Additional troop areas included a regimental headquarters, barracks, mess halls, latrines, and storerooms. Support buildings in the 28th Cavalry area included a post exchange, chapel, motor pool, and fire station. Recreational additions included the swimming pool complex between the 10th and 28th Cavalry areas, additional NCO and Officers’ Clubs, a gymnasium, and the outdoor amphitheater Merritt Bowl. Civilian housing and single-status dormitories were also constructed.

In early 1944, the 4th Cavalry Brigade was converted to service units and sent to North Africa. With their departure from Camp Lockett, the era of the horse soldier ended. Camp Lockett was in stand-by status for several months.

Convalescent hospital activated in 1944

In July 1944, the Army Service Forces activated the Mitchell Convalescent Hospital at former Camp Lockett. The hospital was the first Army Service Forces convalescent hospital in the United States. To expand the original Camp Lockett hospital, many buildings were moved and converted to hospital wards and other uses.

Prisoner of war camp established in 1944

Concurrent with activation of the convalescent hospital was the establishment of the prisoner of war camp in the 28th Cavalry Regiment area. The POW camp, a branch of the Riverside County Camp Haan, housed Italian and possibly German prisoners of war, who worked in all phases of hospital operation, including services, maintenance, and construction. A notable feature and contributing element outside the district boundaries of the Camp Lockett landscape is a shrine in a boulder niche constructed by the prisoners on a prominent knoll overlooking the Campo Valley.

Facility closed in June 1946

The convalescent hospital remained active at Camp Lockett until June 1946, when the facility closed and the installation was declared surplus.

Current status

Buildings and structures

The district includes 52 standing buildings and 2 structures or complexes of structures built during the period of significance. Two contributing building were constructed before the establishment of Camp Lockett but were used by the U.S. Army during the period of significance. The primary categories of functional building types associated with the period of significance are present in the district. With few exceptions, the buildings constructed by the Army are wood-framed, mobilization-style architecture supported on concrete piers or slabs. Infrastructure buildings, such as those in the sewage disposal plant, are built of poured concrete. Most of the surviving buildings and structures date from the early phase of construction in 1941; there are no standing Theater of Operations-style buildings dating from the 1942-43 period of construction. Several of the contributors were moved during the period of significance, in conjunction with establishment of the Mitchell Convalescent Hospital in 1944.

Built properties contributing to the Camp Lockett Cultural Landscape Historic District represent a wide range of functional types from the historic period of significance. Personnel support functions are represented in mess halls, day rooms, officers’ quarters, supply buildings. Recreational buildings include the base theater, swimming pool (now filled), and bathhouses. Buildings associated with care of the horses include stables and blacksmith shop. General support buildings include firehouse, guardhouse, maintenance, motor pool garage, and cellblock. The hospital area contains administrative buildings,barracks, wards, mess halls, storehouses, dispensary, and civilian employee housing. Camp infrastructure properties include the sewage plant, portions of the water system, and the incinerator.

Pre-Lockett buildings utilized by the Army during the period of significance include the Gaskill Brothers Stone Store and the Ferguson Ranch House.

Historic archaeological features

Historic archaeological features, especially foundations, representing a range of building and structure types from the period of significance contribute to the district and are enumerated as features within one site for this nomination. A total of 47 features resulting from original barracks, day rooms, mess halls, storehouses, officers’ quarters, chapel, and stables are present. The Western Defense Command’s Southern Land Frontier Sector headquarters building is represented in an archaeological feature.

Landscape features contributing to the district include original circulation routes, mortared field stone hardscape features, patterned plantings, and open training areas. Eleven circulation routes laid out as part of original camp construction remain in the district. In several locations, mortared stone retaining walls and drainage features accompany the circulation routes. Patterned plantings dating from the period of significance, as well as the oak grove in Chaffee Park also contribute to the district.

The Italian Prisoners of War Shrine, which is located about a mile north of the main encampment, also contributes to the district as a landscape element. The shrine is mortared into a bedrock outcrop and features a glass-enclosed Catholic statuette and engraved stone.

Facility inventory methods used by researchers

The inventory of historic buildings and structures was largely undertaken on behalf of the San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation by staff, Heather Thomson, Sue Wade, and Bonnie Bruce (California Department of Parks and Recreation, California Department of Parks and Recreation, California Desert District), with the assistance of volunteers from the Mt. Empire Historical Society and the Colorado Desert Archaeological Society. Contributors from the Mt. Empire Historical Society included Roger Challberg, President, and Rick Borstadt who are among the most knowledgeable local historians of the Campo area and assisted in every phase of investigation through 2006. Volunteers from the Colorado Desert Archaeological Society were all previously trained in field recording methods.

The survey occurred over a period of ten days dispersed between Nov. 19, 2002 and Jan 7, 2003. Concrete foundations and other features that constituted historical archaeological remains were recorded. These weredocumented as found during the process of the purposive survey and did not constitute a full inventory that might result from a systematic pedestrian surface survey of the district.

DPR recording methods included different approaches to grouping resources on primary forms for assignment of primary numbers, and for some features and archaeological sites, assignment of trinomials as well. Spatial proximity and convenience appear to be the primary criteria for grouping resources. Many unique buildings or structures were assigned separate primary numbers while groups of contiguous buildings or groups of contiguous foundations with similar functions were recorded on one form. In other cases, standing buildings and adjacent foundations also were recorded on single forms. The DPR survey also included some non-contributing properties that occur on private property and are therefore not included in this discussion.

Ione Stiegler of IS Architecture undertook a conditions assessment of most of the standing buildings in the district during May-June, 2006 which included a description of architectural details, structural elements, finishes, window, and door treatments, general condition, historical integrity, and constraints for reuse. She also prepared a comprehensive photographic archives of each building. Interiors were examined on a limited basis where possible. Some buildings on private property are excluded although were addressed in her survey for later use if the owners wish to nominate them in the future.

Korean War




United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Registration Form nominating Camp Lockett dated September 25, 2006, prepared By William R. Manley, Stephen R. Van Wormer, Karen L. Huff , Jerry Schaefer, Sue Wade, Heather Thompson of ASM Affiliates, Inc., 2034 Corte del Nogal, Carlsbad, CA 92011, telephone 760-804-5757)

External links

* [] Historic California Posts: Camp Lockett (Mitchell Convalescent Hospital)

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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