A Brief History of Camp Pendleton


This is a State Military Reservation that is still used by the Virginia Army and Air National Guards, among other tenants. The reservation was established in 1912 as a rifle range for state troops. It had several names before the current one which included: Camp Trinkle (1922-1926), Camp Byrd (1926-1930), Camp Pollard (1930-1934), Camp Perry (1934-1938), and Camp Price (1938-1942). In 1940, the cantonment was temporarily "federalized" during World War II for use as a Coast Artillery Training Center, specifically for mobile units (railway & 155mm). During World War I, coast artillery training was performed at Fort Eustis in Newport News. The James River was used as the firing range but it became too small for modern weapons. Artillery at Camp Pendleton could fire out into the Atlantic. At the beginning of US involvement in World War II two temporary batteries were set up on the beach. They were removed after a year or two. Many of the WWII-era barracks still stand. Several Coast Artillery units were stationed here for training. The Federal government returned the camp to Virginia in 1948. At the rifle range itself, two searchlight towers were constructed. The current range control tower sits on the spot of one of those searchlights. The other was very close by. Near Camp Pendleton was the site of three fire control towers for the harbor defenses at Fort Story. The site of the towers is northeast of the gate on General Booth Blvd. between Croatan Road and Bushnell Drive.

Tower A - N 3649.445 W07558.622 (USCGS)
Tower B - N 3649.400 W07558.603 (USCGS)
Tower C - site undetermined
Searchlight Tower 3 - N 3648.924 W07558.178 (USCGS "Pendleton S")
Searchlight Tower 4 - N 3648.949 W07558.185 (USCGS "Pendleton N")
Temporary 155mm Battery - N 3649.068 W07558.049 (estimate)

Just across the fence on the southern side of the rifle range is U.S. Navy property. This Navy property, a former amphibious training area, is currently used by Marine Reservists for Tactical Air Control and is sandwiched between Camp Pendleton and the Dam Neck Annex of Naval Air Station Oceana.

USGS aerial image of the camp

courtesy of Microsoft TerraServer

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