Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Santa Anita Ordnance Training Center
(Santa Anita Assembly Center, Camp Santa Anita)
Santa Anita Assembly Center, 1942
Located at the world-famous Santa Anita Racetrack, the Santa Anita Assembly Center was the longest occupied assembly center, used for 215 days, from March 27 to October 27. It was also the largest assembly center, housing a total of 19,348 persons from Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Clara counties, with a maximum at one time of 18,719. Those interned lived in hastily constructed barracks and in existing stables, with 8,500 in converted horse stalls.
(Left) Newly-constructed barracks at the Santa Anita Assembly Center. (Right) Converting horse stalls into housing at the Santa Anita Assembly Center.
The assembly center was divided into seven districts: District 1 had 21 stable buildings converted into barracks, District 2 had 20 stable building, District 3 had 19 stable buildings, District 4 had four stable buildings and 113 freshly-built military barracks, District 5 had 161 barracks, District 6 had 160 barracks, and District 7 had 155 barracks (Lehman 1970). Bachelors were housed in the grandstand building. There were six recreation buildings, six showers, six mess halls (referred to by color; Blue, Red, Green, White, Orange, Yellow), a hospital, and a laundry (Figure 16.50; Santa Anita Pacemaker various issues 1942). There was a large warehouse and an automobile storage yard in the racetrack infield and the grandstand seating area was used for a camouflage net factory which employed the Japanese Americans.
1942 aerial photograph of the Santa Anita Assembly Center; A - automobile storage, G - grandstand (housing), H - hospital, L - laundry, M - mess hall, MP - military police and administration area, R - recreation building, S - showers, W - warehouse, 1-7 - barracks districts.
There is no historical marker at the site. The areas where the assembly center barracks had been (Districts 4-7) are now paved parking lots, and the District 3 and 4 stables and the military police compound are now a large shopping mall (Santa Anita Fashion Park). However, the massive grandstand and other racetrack buildings present in the 1940s remain, as do the horse stalls of Districts 1 and 2. The stables, of wood, are the same as in aerial and historical photographs Security personnel at the stables mentioned that Japanese Americans occasionally return to see their former homes. There are presently as many people (stable workers and their families) as horses living in the stall area.
On November 30, 1942, the center was turned over to the Army Ordnance Corps for training purposes and was officially renamed Camp Santa Anita. The camp continued in this role until November 1944. Later still, it served as a Prisoner of War camp holding several thousand German soldiers from Rommel's Afrika Korps.
Photo Credit: Nataional Archive and Records Administration and US National Park Service
Source: Confinement and Ethnicity: An Overview of World War IIJapanese American Relocation Sites by J. Burton, M. Farrell, F. Lord, and R. Lord
US Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District History (1993)
In 1934 Santa Anita Race Track began operation as a thoroughbred horse racing facility. In 1942 the government secured from 2 private sector sources 4 leases for the race track facility and contiguous properties to the north and east (553.56 acres). The property was initially used as an internment camp for Japanese-American citizens and then later became Santa Anita Ordnance Training Center. There are no records which indicate the type(s) of ordnance, if any, that was present on site.
Published information from Santa Anita Race Track historical data notes that there was extensive military activity throughout the site. Such activity included equipment training, soldiers barracked and trained and railroad spurs used for loading and unloading. Considering that the City of Arcadia surrounded the property, it would be reasonable to assume that the immediate presence of everyday civilian population and activities would have precluded any type of ordnance other than small arms ammunition. Further support to this conclusion is given by the almost immediate resumption of racing (May 1945) following cancellation of the leases by the u.S. Army in December 1944 and the extensive development that the property has experienced since World War II without any occasion of ordnance material being found.
The government obtained a lesser interest in additional land (5.698 acres over an approximate 17.2 mile length) between 1942 and 1944 by 51 easements, 2 licenses, and 1 permit. Also, between 1942 and 1944 the government secured 7 licenses and 27 permits for "no area" lesser interests to accompany the 5.698 acres. This lesser interest was obtained from 47 private sector sources, 2 school districts, 4 incorporated cities, 3 Los Angeles County agencies, and 2 California state agencies. This was used to improve a sewer to serve the Santa Anita Ordnance Training Center.
In 1944 the Army terminated the 4 leases for the 553.56 acres and 6 "no area" permits from the City of Arcadia. In 1947 the remaining 51 easements, 2 licenses, and 1 permit for the 5.698 acres and 7 licenses and 21 permits for "no area" were "excessed" and transferred to the War Assets Administration (WAA). Record of subsequent disposal by the WAA is unavailable.

Since 1944 the 553.56 acre site has been privately and publically developed. No evidence exists to indicate that any residual eligible hazards are present at this time, nor does documented site history indicate that any eligible hazards ever existed. While there are no available records of the final disposition by the WAA of the 51 easements, 9 licenses, and 22 permits for the 5.698 acres plus "no area" interests, the extensive development since 1947 of streets, buildings, and 2 freeways (including Interstate Highway 10) along the 17.2 miles of property provides adequate evidence that the WAA did dispose of it after 1947 and that the government no longer has any interest in it.
US Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District History (1995)
In 1942 the united states leased 4 parcels (401.18 acres, 118.02 acres, 13.11 acres, and 21.25 acres) totaling 553.56 acres. From 1942 through 1944, lesser interest in 5.698 acres was obtained by 51 easements, 2 licenses, and 1 permit and "no area" lesser interests were secured by 7 licenses and 27 permits.

Acquisition by the united states of the 553.56 acres was to establish first, a Japanese-American internment camp and then later, the santa Anita Ordnance Training Center. Acquisition of the 5.698 acres plus the "no area" interest was for improvement of the sewer to serve the facility.

The lease for 401.18 acres was terminated 10 September 1944. The leases for 152.38 acres (3 parcels) were terminated 15 December 1944. 6 "no area" permits were 'terminated 10 March 1945. On 15 April 1947 the 5.698 acres plus associated "no area" interests were transferred from the Army to the War Assets Administration (WAA). Presently the 553.56 acres houses the race track facility plus subsequent extensive private and public development of streets, utilities, buildings (hospital, fire station, regional shopping mall, medical office tower, Arcadia civic Center, and 100+ residences), and the Los Angeles County Arboretum. While no available records indicate WAA disposal of the 5.698 acres and "no area" interests, extensive subsequent development of streets, buildings, and 2 freeways (including Interstate Highway #10) along the 17.2 miles of property is evidence that the WAA did relinquish the government's former interest sometime following 15 April 1947.
Historical Data Cards
Ordnance Training Center
Ordnance School
Army Units Assigned to Camp Santa Anita

 Data Source


 Army of the United States Station List  1 June 1943
Ordnance School (ASF)
5th Ordnance Training Group
21st through 24th Ordnance Training Battalions
6th Ordnance Training Group
25th through 29th Ordnance Training Battalions
30th Ordnance Training Battalion
Band (Ordnance Training Center) (ASF)
Band (305th Ordnance Base Regiment) (ASF)
23rd Special Service Company (ASF)
305th Ordnance Base Regiment (less 4th Battalion) (ASF)
456th through 463rd Ordnance Evacuation Companies (ASF)
542nd through 544th Ordnance Heavy Maintenance Companies (Field Army) (ASF)
548th and 549th Ordnance Heavy Maintenance Companies (Field Army) (ASF)
557th Ordnance Medium Maintenance Company (Truck) (ASF)
558th through 561st Ordnance Heavy Maintenance Companies (Truck) (ASF)
610th Ordnance Ammunition Company (ASF)
634th, 635th and 849th Ordnance Ammunition Companies (ASF) (to be activated)
810th, 812th, 813th and 814th Ordnance Depot Companies (ASF)
822nd through 827th Ordnance Base Depot Companies (ASF)
1948th Service Command Unit (Station Complement (ASF)
3911th Service Command Unit (Ordnance Training Center (ASF)
ASF - Army Service Forces units AGF - Army Ground Forces AAF - Army Air Forces units WDC - Western Defense Command
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Updated 10 August 2017