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Nov 10

Camp San Luis opens

Photos from Richard Ochs collection, 1929-1931.

Daily Telegram EXTRA July 4, 1928

Some trends gradually evolve. Others come down the street with a marching band.
The San Luis Obispo Daily Telegram published an EXTRA edition and called it the largest crowd in the history of San Luis Obispo as the National Guard opened Camp Merriam, now Camp San Luis Obispo. The region celebrated with events all over the county. The camp was originally named for governor Frank Merriam and was the first permanent military facility established in the region.
The area near present day Camp Roberts had been under consideration as early as 1902 but opposition shelved that proposal until the pressing needs of World War II forced the issue.
Camp opening was combined with Independence Day festivities. The parade was so big it was divided into four divisions winding through town with bands, floats and the Richfield Oil Co. calliope bringing up the rear as a crowd estimated in the thousands watched.
It was a full day of celebration.

Morning
Sunrise Gun
9:30 — Parade of Welcome, including entire 184th Infantry, N.G.C.
11:00 — Band Concerts and Drill Teams on city streets.
12:00 — Luncheon at Guard Camp for Governor’s Party and National Guard Officers.

Afternoon
Afternoon program is all at Camp Grounds, 3 miles north of city limits. Go out Santa Rosa Street.
1:30 — Military Review National Guard Regiment.
2:00 — Dance I.D.E.S. Hall
2:00 — Thirty rounds of boxing, Pismo Beach Arena
2:30 — Athletic Events — Baseball Game, National Guard vs. San Luis Obispo Swimming Contests.
Tug of War —National Guard vs San Luis Obispo Legion Track Meet.
4:00 — Public Inspection of New National Guard Camp

Evening
8:00 — Band Concert given by the Military Band at Exposition Park. This is located 1 mile south of Main Business section. Go straight out Broad Street.
8:15 — Mammoth Fireworks Spectacle.  A gigantic pyrotechnic display including the defense of Port San Luis, where the actual battle between the battleships and torpedo boats is carried out in realistic formation.
9:30 Dancing — Winter Garden, under auspices of the American Legion. Dancing —Mission Auditorium under auspices of the Spanish-American War Veterans, Pismo Pavilion, Oswalds orchestra. I.D.E.S. Hall — Druids Circle, Cayucos. Atascadero Lake.

The original camp was 5,800 acres and almost doubled in size during World War II. Control of the facility has alternated between state and federal authorities as needs peaked for World War II and the Korean war. The facility can house more than 2,000 under normal conditions and more than 3,500 under emergency conditions. Salinas Dam was built to provide water  for the base and now supplies the city of San Luis Obispo.

The photographs came from Richard Ochs of San Luis Obispo and were made by his father from 1929-1931.

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