Historic Posts, Camps, Stations, and Airfields
Camp Matthews
(Camp Calvin B. Matthews, Marine Corps Range La Jolla)
Camp Matthews
By Justin M. Ruhge, Goleta Valley Historical Society
Camp Matthews was a Marine Corps rifle training post near La Jolla. All Marines had to pass the "Record Day" qualifications. The rifle was the 1903 Springfield. Later the M1 Garand became the standard rifle for American troops. The Camp was named in honor of Brigadier General Calvin Bruce Matthews, a trophy rifle marksman.

In the winter of 1918, the Marines established their new rifle range about 13 miles north of San Diego and just east of La Jolla. The range was built under the direction of Brigadier General Earl C. Long, who was then a Captain. Initially, five or six Marines were stationed at what became known as Rifle Range, Marine Corps Base, San Diego.

Captain Karl J. Busse became the facility's first commanding officer in 1921, and the first permanent structure, the headquarters building, was erected in 1927.

During World War II thousands of Marines, Navy and Army troops trained at Matthews. New service buildings were built to accommodate the increased output of training personnel. The Marine Corps Gazette, stated that while at Matthews, " a Marine talks, thinks, lives and practices shooting from early morning until late at night. Everyone is put through the paces on numerous ranges, from distances of 50 to 1,000 yards. The men shoot in standing, kneeling, sitting, off-hand and prone positions, firing more and more each day until the full course is fired on record day."

In 1964, the site of Camp Matthews was turned over to the University of California: The Marine Corps relocated rifle training to Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California.
Reference: Traditions, San Diego's Military Heritage, June 1994, Vol. 1, No. 1. pg. 3. La Jolla, San Diego County.

Camp Matthews
by CW4 Mark Denger, California Center for Military History

Up to World War II the camp had no name and was known simply as the Marine Rifle Range, La Jolla, and fell under the command of Marine Corps Base, San Diego. The camp was officially designated Camp Matthews on March 23, 1942 in honor of Lieutenant Colonel (later Brigadier General) Calvin B. Matthews, USMC., a distinguished Marine marksman of the 1930s period.

Camp Matthews continued to serve as the firing range for the Marines with a permanent garrison of 700 men. In March 1942, a new administrative building was ready for occupancy, along with a large mess hall, a post office, swimming pool and outdoor theater.

Marine Corps recruitment following Pearl Harbor so taxed the ranges limited facilities, that some 5,000 Marines who enlisted shortly after Pearl Harbor, had to be rushed to an Army camp at San Luis Obispo for their weapons training. During the peak of the war as many as 9,000 men were rushed through the range every three weeks. The rifle range was also used by Marine Aviation units, as well as Army and Navy units.

Camp Matthews continued to function through the Korean War and into the 1960s. In May 1963 it was necessary for the Marines to discontinue using one of their 65 target ranges because of civilian encroachment and consequent safety hazards. Finally it was decided to relocate Camp Matthews and the Marine Corps Recruit Depot's weapons training to Camp Pendleton.

Closing ceremonies occurred at Camp Matthews on 21 August 1964 and 46 years of Marine training at that portion of the San Diego Marine Base came to an end.


US Army Corps of Engineers History
Camp Calvin B. Matthews or Marine Corps Rifle Range Camp Matthews or Marine Corps Rifle Range, La Jolla (prior to World War II) or more simply Camp Matthews was a United States Marine Corps military base from 1917 until 1964, when the base was decommissioned and transferred to the University of California to be part of the new University of California, San Diego (UCSD) campus. Over a million Marine recruits as well as other shooters (such as Marines stationed at Miramar) received their marksmanship training at this military base.
Location and Boundaries
Camp Matthews was located in La Jolla, San Diego, California. The base's eastern boundary was present-day Regents Road. Its northern boundary was present-day Voigt Drive (formerly Old Miramar Road) and Matthews Lane and extended westward to Gilman Drive (formerly Coast Highway), which was its western boundary. The bases's southern boundary was near present-day La Jolla Village Drive and a "panhandle" extended southward along what is today Interstate 5 and extended past present-day Nobel Drive. United States Army base Camp Callan was to the west of Camp Matthews. The Marine base at Miramar was about 3 miles (4.8 km) east of Camp Matthews.
Early Years
The Marine Corps leased 363 acres (1.47 km2) of land from the City of San Diego in 1917 for use as a marksmanship training facility for Marine recruits being trained at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. However, a permanent detachment of Marines was not stationed at this base until 1923. It was first used as a rifle range in late 1918.[3] The Marines built the first eight targets of "A" range themselves with picks and shovels. In 1925 five more targets were added. The first headquarters buildings were built in 1927 and the first detachment barracks were built in 1928. During the 1930s and 1940s, more buildings and barracks were constructed as well more firing ranges. During these years, the base had no official name but was called Marine Rifle Range, La Jolla. In 1937, the U.S. government terminated the lease and acquired 544 acres (2.20 km2) in fee from the City of San Diego. This acquisition consisted of the formerly leased area as well as additional land to the east. The government also leased an additional 29.75 acres (120,400 m2) from the City of San Diego. This newly leased area was in the northeastern corner of the base. The total area of the base was then 573.75 acres (2.3 km2). Except for a few ranch houses, all of the area acquired was undeveloped at the time of acquisition.
World War II and the Korean War Years
After the attack on Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into World War II, the base was busier than ever. At the peak of the base's activity in 1944, it put 9,000 recruits through marksmanship training every 3 weeks. Marine recruits marched north from MCRD, completed their marksmanship training and left the camp. This was because MCRD was never suitable for marksmanship training. During this year, the base had 700 permanent personnel stationed there. However, by the mid-1950s only 120 Marines were stationed at Camp Matthews. During World War II and the Korean War, more administrative buildings as well as street and utility systems were built.
World War II Rifle Range Sign
In 1942, the base was officially named Camp Calvin B. Matthews. It was named after Brigadier General Calvin B. Matthews a famous Marine marksman of the 1930s. The naming officially took place on March 23, 1942.
Closing and Transfer
As the city of La Jolla expanded after World War II, local people became more and more concerned over the close proximity of a military rifle range facility in their neighborhood. The La Jolla Town Council began trying to get the United States Navy to close Camp Matthews in 1956 but the Navy resisted. In 1959, Congressman Bob Wilson introduced a bill in Congress that would transfer Camp Matthews to the University of California for the planned San Diego campus. In 1962, Camp Matthews was determined to be surplus by the Marine Corps. In May 1963, one of the 65 target ranges could no longer be used because of the safety hazard it posed to the encroaching civilian population. The base finally closed in 1964, the same year the first undergraduate class entered Revelle College, UCSD's first undergraduate college. Closing ceremonies took place on August 21, 1964 but the base was not officially closed until October 6, 1964. The Navy conveyed titles and interest in 544 acres (2.2 km2) and improvements to the Regents of the University of California on September 23 of this year. The lease on the 29.75 acres (120,400 m2) with the City of San Diego was terminated in this year as well. The University of California began developing the base property for use as a campus the following year. After Camp Matthews closed, Marine marksmanship training was conducted further north at Edson Range in Camp Pendleton and continues to be conducted there up to the present day.
Camp Matthews contained at least fifteen different shooting ranges as well as various buildings and other infrastructure during its existence. The shooting facilities included:
The base had a number of buildings as well. It had 7 barracks, approximately 270 tents, administration buildings, quartermaster storerooms, magazines, an armory, maintenance shops, a dispensary, a service station, and a main post exchange. Only a few of the original Marine Corps buildings still exist. They are primarily located along Myers Drive in the central part of the present-day campus and were used for administrative buildings, the campus bookstore, as well as other uses over the years. This central location of the UCSD campus was called the Matthews Campus but is now called the University Center and Sixth College. A few locations on campus are named after Camp Matthews. They include Matthews Lane (which is part of the northern boundary of the former base) and Matthews Quad, an area in the center of the UCSD campus bound by Myers Drive, Lyman Walk, Russell Lane, and Rupertus Way. The original flagpole from the base still stands on a grass island in the middle of Myers Drive. A monument commemorating the former base stands there as well as a fountain designed by Michael Asher which is part of the Stuart Collection. The rear entrance sentry booth still stands in a UCSD parking lot. Drawings and graffiti left by Marine recruits still decorate the interior of the sentry booth and are now protected by plexiglas. Another surviving Camp Matthews building is the Ché Café.
Current Land Use
The area Camp Matthews used to occupy has been divided-up for various uses. During the 1960s, UCSD disposed of former Camp Matthews land in the following way:
The rest of the land currently belongs to UCSD and much of the current campus is built on this land. The 29.75 acres (120,400 m2) that the City of San Diego previously leased to the military are now leased to UCSD.
Source: Los Angeles DIstrict, US Army Corps of Engineers
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