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Fort Worth Flashback: Camp Bowie preceded Arlington Heights neighborhood

Posted Aug. 6, 2012

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Construction of Camp Bowie began July 18, 1917. The camp, in the Arlington Heights neighborhood about three miles west of downtown Fort Worth, was established by the War Department to train the 36th Infantry Division.

The site encompassed 2,186 acres. The camp was named for Alamo defender James Bowie.

Although classified as a tent camp, it required much construction to accommodate a division of men. Camp Bowie was opened Aug. 24, 1917, with Maj. Gen. Edwin St. John Greble of the regular army as commandant. During Greble’s absence, the camp was commanded by a number of generals, including Brig. Gen. George Blakely.

Camp Bowie’s greatest average monthly strength was recorded in October 1917 as 30,901. On April 11, 1918, the 36th went on parade in the city for the first time. The four-hour event drew crowds estimated at 225,000, making it possibly the biggest parade in Fort Worth’s history.

For about five months after the departure of the 36th for France in July 1918, the camp functioned as an infantry replacement and training facility, with monthly population ranging from 4,164 to 10,527. More than 100,000 men trained at the camp.

Shortly after the Armistice on Nov. 11, 1918, Camp Bowie was designated a demobilization center. By May 31, 1919, it had discharged 31,584 men. Once demobilization was concluded, Camp Bowie closed Aug. 15, 1919. After the camp closed it was quickly converted to a residential area, as builders took advantage of utility hookups left by the army.

The Fort Worth Library has approximately 10,000 items pertaining to the history of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. These items include city and county government documents, newspapers, directories, cemetery association records, maps as well as popular and scholarly books written by local authors or about local subjects. To learn more, call 817-392-7740 or email the Genealogy, History and Archives Section.

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