Shaver's Summit Airport


Shaver's Summit Army Airfield

One of several landing strips, that at Shaver's Summit consisted of a single runway measuring 5,500 by 300 feet.  Patton purchased 28 acres from Chiriaco for five dollars per acre and used the land as an airstrip.  The strip was located a few miles east of Camp Young and was reportedly constructed by and for the army in 1942.  The runway was paved, and several buildings existed at the strip.  It is not known if these buildings were constructed on-site or moved from somewhere else.  Today, the area is known as Chiriaco Summit and is no longer called Shaver's Summit.

Today, the mile-long strip is operated by Riverside County.  A few buildings from Desert Center Airport were relocated to Chiriaco Summit after the war, all of which were converted for other uses.  A building reportedly dating to the DTC/C-AMA period exists immediately adjacent to the runway, behind the Patton Museum.  The building was obviously moved and has been altered almost beyond recognition.

There were four main army airfields in the DTC/C-AMA: Rice, Shaver's Summit, Desert Center, and Thermal.  In many other locations, the army used existing civilian facilities, such as the airport in Boulder City, Nevada.  In other cases, the army established facilities that were subsequently taken over for civilian use after the end of the war.  For example, an airfield built in Palm Springs by the army became the city's municipal airport after the war (Weight 1977).[1]

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

In 1945, Joe and Ruth Chiriaco established a rugged memorial to General Patton at Chiriaco Summit. Today there is a marvelous museum which honors the great American Hero, General George S. Patton and the Desert Training Center thanks to Margit Chiriaco Rusche and the Bureau of Land Management.[2]

Shaver Summit Army Airfield
LOCATION: The site is located in Chiriaco summit, Riverside county, California Approximately 29 miles east of Indio, California and approximately 65 miles west of Blythe, California.  The former site currently houses the Chiriaco Summit Airport (L77) and is accessed from Chiriaco Road off Interstate 10 at Chiriaco Summit exit ramp.  The site is located adjacent to the Chiriaco Summit Chevron gasoline station. 

SITE HISTORY: The Shavers Summit Airfield was used by the Army Air Force as an emergency auxiliary landing field in connection with the activities at the Blythe Army Air Field.  The airfield was located adjacent to Camp Young, the Administration Headquarters for the General Patton California-Arizona Maneuver Area Desert Training Center.  The former airfield consisted of an east-west runway approximately 200-foot wide by 6,000-foot long, constructed of hard blacktop, a parking apron approximately 100-foot wide by 300-foot long, constructed of hard black top located adjacent to the runway, a 12-foot by 18-foot frame house used as a guard house, nine or ten tent frames, a small latrine and shower room, a 50,000-gallon above-ground water tank, and a beacon.  The airfield contained no housing or gasoline storage facilities.  According to Mr. Gordon Chiriaco, operator of the Chevron gasoline station and son of Mr. Joseph L. Chiriaco, all fuel for Army Air Force airplanes was obtained from the Chevron gasoline station.  All structures were dismantled shortly after occupation by the military. 

The former Shavers Summit Airfield is currently owned and operated by Riverside County as the Chiriaco Summit Airport.  The original runway and wind sock still exist.  A majority of the former parking apron has been converted with a new concrete apron, with only a small portion of the original blacktop exposed on the easternmost end.  No buildings are located on the current airport grounds, and the airport still does not have airplane refueling capacities.  (Army Corps of Engineers)


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Date of last edit: August 28, 2011 05:38:41 -0700
Copyright: L. Dighera, 2011; All Rights Reserved: