Camp Granite
 
 














 

Camp Granite

Camp Granite was established in the spring and summer of 1943.  The original camp was closer to the highway but, because of flooding, was moved closer to the mountains.  The date of this move is unknown.  The 90th and 104th Infantry Divisions were both assigned to Camp Granite, at different times.  Thre camp was flooded, and the 90th Division moved to higher ground when they arrived. [John Lynch: E-mail June 16, 1999]
Among the smaller units known to have been stationed at Camp Granite were the 76th Field Artillery Brigade and the 413th Infantry Regiment.  The 76th Field Artillery Brigade, in fact, was stationed at Camp Granite prior to the completion of the camp and may have been there to assist in its construction.  During the XV Corps occupation of the DTC/CAMA (July-November 1943), the headquarters of the XV Corps' artillery was at Camp Granite.   Facilities constructed at the camp include 40 shower buildings, 157 latrines, 191 pyramidal wooden tent frames, and one 50,000-gallon water tank.  There were a total of nine ranges south of the camp, all of which faced into the Granite Mountains.  The ranges were used for artillery, rifle and pistol, regimental, towed target (57- and 105-mm), and antiaircraft (.30-caliber and .50-caliber) weapons. 

Camp Granite is located south across California Highway 62 from Camp Iron Mountain, near the base of the Granite Mountains. The MWD aqueduct was located northeast of camp and supplied it with water.  The camp was located near the Palen Pass area to the south, where several large maneuvers took place. 

Current Condition
The remains of numerous rock-lined roadways can still be discerned, as can several rock insignias.  Reports of ordnance have been made south of the camp area, indicating the presence of artillery ranges in the vicinity.  The majority of the eastern portion of the camp has been washed away. The western portion of the camp, particularly that lying at the foot of the Granite Mountains, is extremely well preserved.  Numerous rock-lined walkways can be found in this portion of the camp, as can
unit insignias, several of which have been roped off.  Access to this portion of the camp is easy, although the road leading from the highway is extremely sandy.

484th Quartermaster Battalion
Freda
A camp, complete with rock-lined walkways and roads and the insignia of the 484th Quartermaster Battalion, exists west of the Freda railroad siding, immediately south of the MWD aqueduct and northwest of Camp Granite.  There also appear to be several pieces of water tanks, as well as other miscellaneous metal.  The camp is well preserved and should be considered eligible for listing in the NRHP.  It can be accessed from the MWD aqueduct road extending west from California Highway 62, immediately west of where the highway bends at Freda.  The camp is approximately 0.25 miles down the road, to the south.  Further archival research should be performed on this camp.  It is expected that the camp represents a historically important aspect of the DTC/C-AMA, and it is likely eligible for listing in the NRHP.  The site is in good condition and retains sufficient integrity.

Palen Pass
The site of the largest maneuvers during the life of the DTC/C-AMA, Palen Pass received heavy impacts from the army.  Fortifications were constructed throughout the pass, as one unit would "defend" the area from another.  These fortifications consisted of gun emplacements, barbed-wire entanglements, bunkers, minefields, and foxholes.  Several maneuvers were held in the area.  In addition, each unit that came to defend Palen Pass erected its own defenses by building on what had already been constructed by previous units.  Vestiges of maneuvers can also be found in the valley east of the pass, in the form of bomb craters, cartridge cases, concertina
wire, and various refuse.  Palen Pass can be accessed from the Arlington Mine Road, east from California Highway 177.  This road is very sandy in places and should be traveled only in a four-wheel drive vehicle.

Perhaps the largest maneuver to take place was the first mock battle of Palen Pass.   The battle was partly conducted for the benefit of visiting dignitaries, including several state governors.  One of the participants in the battle, Sgt. Joe Delgado, recalled the action several decades later:

First came the airplanes and strafed hell out of it .
Then the artillery shells began to cover the ground,
next came tanks rumbling into the pass blasting
away and finally streams of troops. There was so
much dust and smoke up there you wouldn't think
anything could be alive for miles. But when we
stopped, and the smoke began to clear, someone
shouted, "Hey look up there, what's that moving?"
And just like nothing at all had been going on, this
old dusty prospector and his burro, looking like
something from the last century, came walking
through all that smoke and dust and debris paying
no attention at all to any of us or all the live
ammunition we'd blasted that pass with [as quoted
in Pew 1985:29].

On August 20, 1943, the 85th Division was treated to a tremendous fire power demonstration of aircraft and infantry. The demo included P-38 fighters that attacked ground targets. Then the entire 2nd Battalion of the 339th Regiment massed along the firing line and fired all the weapons at once, including rifles, machine guns and mortars.
 
Desert field exercises were carried out by battalion and involved a meeting engagement with the enemy, an overnight bivouac and an early morning attack. These were held across the valley from Camp Coxcomb, just before the Palen Pass, which ran between the Little Maria and Palen Mountains

During October 25 to November 13, 1943, the 15th Corps maneuvers were carried out in the Palen Pass area east of Camp Coxcomb. This included the 81st and the 79th Infantry Divisions, the 15th Mechanized Cavalry, 182nd and 119th Field Artillery Groups, 3rd Field Artillery Observation Battalion , 185th Tank Destroyer Battalion and 2 anti-aircraft groups.

The army recognized that practically the entire maneuver area had been used for live-fire exercises, and that clearing it [of unexploded ordnance] was nearly impossible.  The Palen Pass maneuver area was left as is, and only marked with signs (Blake 1987: 30).
 

[1] The Desert Training Center/California-Arizona Maneuver Area,1942-1944 HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONTEXTS; Matt C. Bischoff

 

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Date of last edit: August 30, 2011 14:33:09 -0700
Copyright: L. Dighera, 2011; All Rights Reserved: LDighera@att.net