Historic California Posts, Camps Stations and Airfields
Merced Assembly Center
(Camp Merced)
Oblique aerial view of the Merced Assembly Center.

The Merced Assembly Center, in the central San Joaquin Valley, was within the town of Merced at the county fairgrounds. Occupied from May 6 to September 15, it housed a total of 4,669 people (with a maximum of 4,508 at one time) from the northern California coast, west Sacramento Valley, and the northern San Joaquin Valley. Historical photographs show about 200 buildings at the assembly center, most located south of the fairgrounds proper (see above).

A State of California historical marker is located at the main pedestrian entrance to the fairgrounds. Some fair buildings visible on the 1942 aerial photograph may remain, but there have been extensive changes at the site. Behind (south of) the fairgrounds the former barracks area is now a gravel parking lot. Eleven concrete foundations there may be from the assembly center: the slabs are in poor condition, but most measure approximately 20 ft by 100 ft, the standard barracks size Concrete floors for temporary barracks were unusual, if not unique, given the assembly centers' hasty construction. The only relocation center with concrete barracks floors was Granada, where, coincidentally, the internees at Merced were transferred.

With the departure of the Japanese, the installation was turned over to the 4th Air Service Area Command, although the 1945 inventory of Army facilities still listed it as a Japanese Assembly Center. Later in 1942, Army personnel arrived at the fairgrounds for training, including a chemical warfare section and an infantry unit. It is possible that this post was named "Camp Merced." During the war years, about 5,500 black troops also were quartered there. After the war, the fairgrounds was turned over to the 35th District Agricultural Association and thefair returned in 1946 with a record-breaking attendance of 30,000.

US Army Corps of Real Estate Map


Known Units at Merced Fairgrounds

 1 June 1943 Army Station List
 Army Air Forces
528th Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron (Special)
707th Chemical Maintenance Company, Aviation (Colored)
708th Chemical Maintenance Company, Aviation (Colored)
713th Chemical Maintenance Company, Aviation (Colored)
714th Chemical Maintenance Company, Aviation (Colored)
761st Chemical Depot Company, Aviation (Colored)
762nd Chemical Depot Company, Aviation (Colored)
1914th Ordnance Ammunition Company, Aviation (Colored)

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Updated 8 February 2016