Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
(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.
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
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.
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
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.
Army Corps of Engineers
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
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
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
Combat Firing Range
Located ten miles northwest of El Centro,
this site measured 2,560 acres. Currently no other information