Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Camp Seeley
(including Camp Seeley Combat Firing Range, Camp Seeley Ordnance Desert Proving Ground, and Camp Seeley Ordnance Training Center)
A World War II training post, it was established in the near environs of the town of Seeley, four miles east of El Centro, in the Imperial Valley. Camp Seeley was named for the town which, in turn, had been named for Henry Seeley, a pioneer in the development of Imperial Valley. Established by the Army in Nov. 1940 to house elements of the 11th Cavalry Regiment (Horse) that had recently moved in from the Presidio at Monterey. In December 1941 these elements moved, on horseback, to Camp Lockett at Campo, CA to join the main body of the unit. Camp Seeley then became an ordnance proving ground.
The 11th Cavalry Regiment and Camp Seeley
In 1939 General George C. Marshall became Army Chief of Staff. With war clouds looming over Europe, Marshall knew it was only a matter of time before the United States was drawn into another conflict overseas. In order to prepare the 60,000-man army, he began a program to get the men out of the barracks and into the field for a year of "toughening up." Tent camps were to be constructed and in turn various regiments of cavalry and infantry would take to the field. By September 1940 General Marshall had convinced Congress to begin the first-ever peacetime draft beginning in September 1940. In November 1940 the field rotation for the 11th Cavalry began.
The new camps for the Regiment were constructed in San Diego and Imperial counties, near the Southern California/Mexican border. Camp Seeley, near El Centro, California and Camp Morena; near Campo were built simultaneously. Camp Seeley was used for desert training, training the horses to swim with rider up (mounted) and was the location of Regiment's rifle and machine gun ranges. Camp Morena was for mountain and cold weather training. The Regiment would rotate Squadrons between the two throughout the year. It was later decided to establish a single camp suitable to house the entire Regiment at one site. Construction of Camp Lockett (named for Colonel James Lockett, 4th Colonel of the Regiment) in Campo, where "E" Troop had been posted in 1918, began in 1941. Built by the Quartermaster Corps, it is generally acknowledged that Camp Lockett was the last designated mounted cavalry camp constructed in the U.S. Army's history. It remained a cavalry post for the 10th and 28th Cavalry Regiments after the 11th gave up its horses. Today the El Centro/Camp Seeley area remains the home of the 11th Cavalry Horse Honor Guard (Historical) - "The Colonel's Own."
Led by Harold M. Rayner, (16th Colonel of the Regiment) the main body moved from the Presidio of Monterey to the Camp Seeley/Camp Morena duty stations. By this time the Regiment had reverted to three troops (companies) per squadron. The Regiment's HQ, First Squadron and Provisional Squadron were based at Camp Seeley, while Second Squadron was posted at Camp Morena. In March 1941, some 700 draftees from Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan joined the Regiment. They were the first conscripts to have ridden with the Regiment.
The Regiment underwent extensive training until 7 December 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. On 10 December, the entire Regiment was ordered to occupy the unfinished Camp Lockett. Those units based at Camp Morena made the five-mile trek in short order. The Squadrons based at Camp Seeley commenced what became the last "Forced March" in U.S. Horse Cavalry history, completing the ninety mile march over extremely rocky, mountainous terrain in one and a half days. Once at Camp Lockett, horse-drawn artillery units occupied Camp Seeley while its rifle range continued to be used by cavalry units from Camp Lockett. Camp Morena was closed.
Immediately following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, there were wild reports of Japanese attacks on the California coast. Once at Camp Lockett, the regiment was posted along the United States/Mexico border for the fourth time in its history; this time to counter the rumored threat of enemy troops landing in Baja California and marching north. Once the threat was proven to be false, the 11th Cavalry Regiment was relieved by the 2nd Cavalry Division's 4th Cavalry Brigade (consisting of the 10th and the 28th Cavalry Regiment (Horse)(Colored)) and stood down to await further orders. They were supposed to ship out for Australia, but many of the troopers came down with jaundice from the yellow fever vaccinations, so they remained in California for the time being.
Corps of Engineers History

LOCATION: The Camp Seeley site is located in Imperial County, California, one mile north of the Town of Seeley and approximately 8 miles northwest of the City of EI Centro.

SITE HISTORY: The Army acquired Camp Seeley in November 1940. It was used as a campsite by the 11th Cavalry Regiment (Horse) from November 1940 to December 1941. The 75th Field Artillery Battalion (Horse) occupied the site from late 1941 or early 1942 until May 1942. In March 1942, the Quartermaster Test Command established the Desert Test Command Headquarters at Camp Seeley. Their mission was to test transport vehicles, tanks, and other combat vehicles and automotive equipment in soft sand terrain and under high temperature conditions. Testing also included tires, fuels, lubricants, cooling systems, and other components. Test activities were conducted both at the camp and at sites away from the camp. Tests did not involve ordnance or explosive materials. In August 1942 responsibilities of the Quartermaster Test Command were transferred to the Ordnance Department, and the Desert Test Command activity became the Ordnance Desert Test Command. In 1943 the Ordnance Desert Test Command activity was renamed the Ordnance Desert Proving Ground.

Camp Seeley was a semi-permanent camp which contained tents with wood floors, temporary wood buildings, pit latrines, a motor pool shed, several sheds for horses and transport equipment, and a headquarters building. Buildings were heated with coal and wood stoves. Water was delivered from the nearby Elder canal by the Imperial Irrigation District. A water supply system constructed by the Army consisted of a concrete settling basin, pumps, and pressure tanks for distribution. Waste water was disposed of by way of an open drainage ditch to the nearby New River. The 11th Cavalry Regiment constructed a lake on the camp to swim their horses. The lake may have also been used as a fording basin for the testing of automotive equipment.

At the time of disposal, 65 temporary buildings on the site were transferred or donated to other agencies. Currently a home and farm compound are located on the property, the majority of which is under cultivation. Remaining improvements include the lake, and a concrete foundation reportedly installed by the Army which currently supports a farm maintenance shop. Other improvements of possible Army origin include an underground water storage tank and two concrete tank cradles. The concrete foundation and water storage tank are in beneficial use.

Three other sites associated with Camp Seeley include Camp Seeley Combat Firing Range (J09CA029100), Camp Seeley Ordnance Desert Proving Ground (J09CA029200), and Camp Seeley Ordnance Training Center (J09CA029300). Each site was located between four and eight miles from Camp Seeley.
Camp Seeley Ordnance Desert Proving Ground

The former Camp Seeley Ordnance Desert Proving Ground was located about 12 miles southwest of El Centro, Imperial County, California. The War Department acquired interest in the 1,040-acre site by transfer of public domain lands under use permit No. RE-D2886 (General) from the Department of the Interior dated 21 April 1944. The acquisition was part of a 1,280-acre transfer associated with Camp Seeley Ordnance Training Center.

The site was used by the Army Service Forces as desert dust proving ground. No indications or records of the War Department improvements were noted.

The 1,040-acre proving grounds was declared excess and the site was retransferred to Department of the Interior by revocation of the use permit; custody was assumed by the Department of the Interior on 18 April 1946. The site is currently a BLM-administered off-road vehicle recreation area.

Source: Army Corps of Engineers

Camp Seeley Ordnance Training Center

The Army acquired 17,574.79 acres from the Department of interior for Camp Seeley Ordnance Training Center. The acquisition included 16,294.79 acres acquired by Executive Order 8865 dated 21 August 1941, and 1,280.0 acres acquired by Use Permit dated 21 April 1944.

The property was used by various branches of the Army stationed at nearby Camp Seeley The site was used by the 10th, 11th and 28th Cavalry Regiments (Horse), and the 75th Field Artillery Battalion (Horse) for combat firing range and maneuver purposes. The 1,280.0-acre tract was acquired for use as a "dust proving ground," by the Desert Test Command, charged with the testing of transport vehicles, ordnance combat tanks, and other combat vehicles and automotive equipment in soft sand terrain and under high temperature conditions. Improvements constructed on the site include timber-lined holes designed for ammunition storage.

The 1,280.0-acre tract was transferred back to the Department of Interior on 18 April 1946, and the 16,294.79-acre tract was relinquished to the Department of Interior through the revocation
of Executive Order 8865, by Public Land Order 388, dated 1 August 1947. A total of 17,574.79 acres were returned to the Department of Interior. The property is located in the Yuha Desert and is presently used for public recreation purposes such as camping and off-road vehicle use. Approximately ten to fifteen timber-lined holes remain in place. They are not known to have been used
beneficially subsequent to disposal of the,property.

Source: Army Corps of Engineers

Camp Seeley Combat Firing Range

Located ten miles northwest of El Centro, this site measured 2,560 acres. Currently no other information is available.

Aditional Online Histories
US Army Corps of Engineers Archival Search Report
Known Units at Camp Seeley
4th Cavalry Brigade, 2d Cavalry Division
10th Cavalry Regiment (Horse)(Colored)
28th Cavalry Regiment (Horse)(Colored)
11th Cavalry Regiment (Horse)
75th Field Artillery Battalion (Horse)
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Updated 30 September 2017