Monday, June 17, 2013

Iron Mountain Divisional Camp

From 1942 to 1944, the virtually uninhabited deserts of S CA and AZ became a combat training ground for the largest military training exercise of its time. Under the command of Major General George S. Patton Jr., close to a million American soldiers were cycled through a series of 12 primitive base camps - collectively know as Patton Camps - from which they conducted large-scale maneuvers. According to the description on my BLM map, the Camp Iron Mountain "remains today as one of the best-preserved remnants of this operation".

Camp Iron Mountain is located 6 miles east of the intersection of Hwy 177 and 62 in the S CA desert. From 62, drive north 1.6 miles on a sandy road which leads directly to the camp headquarters area. The camp area is fenced off to keep vehicles out, and there are walk-through turnstiles at several points along the perimeter. The road is a little rough with areas of deep sand in spots, so 4WD is recommended.
Rustic desert turnstile... entrance to Iron Mountain Divisional Camp
Unfortunately, there's not much left to see at this camp. Primarily there are rock alignments marking camp roads and walkways, but not many remnants from the thousands of soldiers that trained here back in the early '40s. It's likely been picked over years ago.

Gotta love those long desert shadows... my wife, dog and myself!
Old vehicle suspension spring from some sort of military vehicle... perhaps an old WW2 Jeep?
Even without much in the way of military remnants, it's cool walking around in an area where you know thousands of soldiers trained for WW2! And it's a large area, and we didn't have much time to explore, so who knows what we missed??


  1. Nice reportage. And the fence is very funny going from one sand area to another.

  2. thanks for the history! sad to think of the soldiers training for what they'd face next...

  3. Places like that, I wander around thinking...knowing, that there must be some little artifact remaining hidden in the sand nearby even if it had been well picked over. The same thoughts haunted me while visiting Civil War sites in the South. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Picking over places like that is always great - you never know what you will find. The rail line that cut across the street I was born in back in the UK was going to be the "fall back line" if the south coast of the UK was invaded and a beach head established. Even in the 1960s you could find the trenches and strange rusting bits of metal. Thankfully, we never found any ordinance - although we always looked!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  5. It must have been an interesting place to explore, considering the history. The long shadows are amusing and I love the lighting in the last one.