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Fort Worth Flashback: Army’s Camp Bowie was precursor to Arlington Heights neighborhoods

Posted June 28, 2013

[Description]

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 U.S. War Department to train the Thirty-sixth Infantry Division.

This photo shows soldiers of the 111th Engineers training in the trenches at Camp Bowie.

Including the adjacent rifle range and trench system, the site encompassed 2,186 acres. Although classified as a tent camp, it required a good bit of construction to accommodate a division of men. Camp Bowie was opened officially Aug. 24, 1917, with Maj. Gen. Edwin St. John Greble of the regular army as commandant.

The Thirty-sixth Division remained at Camp Bowie for 10 months. Training dragged, partly because of epidemics and equipment shortages, but morale never flagged, thanks in part to the cooperation of Fort Worth in tending to the social needs of the troops. Relations between town and camp were remarkably good throughout the camp’s existence, though the Feb. 18, 1918, issue of Pass in Review, the bimonthly newspaper of camps Bowie and Taliaferro (near Saginaw), announced a base-mandated “purity crusade” designed to close down the brothels that thrived near the camp.

For about five months after the departure of the Thirty-sixth 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.

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. Camp Bowie was closed Aug. 15, 1919, and 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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