Museum program focuses on Camp Adair's history

RICKREALL -- Camp Adair and its role in World War II will be the subject of a presentation at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, at the Polk County Museum in Rickreall.

Author John Baker will share the details, personal anecdotes and insight he learned about the base during the year and a half he spent researching his new book, "Camp Adair."

Baker, who lives in Newport and owns and operates a business consulting firm, moved with his family to Salem in 1939. His father was a construction worker who helped erect some of the 1,800 buildings that once comprised the base.

Little evidence of the military cantonment remains standing today -- save a few derelict structures and crumbling foundations. Baker said it was for that reason that he set out to tell Camp Adair's story.

"If you go out there, you'll see the four markers that tell of the 100,000 that were trained there, the 22,000 wounded and the 6,000 killed in battle," he said.

"That's one of the big reasons I wanted to write this book, to make sure the story was out there."

Camp Adair was one of the major training installations on the West Coast during World War II, spanning 55,000 acres across Polk and Benton Counties.

To make room for the base, hundreds of farm families were uprooted from their homes. Small communities such as Wellsdale, once located just south of the Polk County line, disappeared.

Between 1942 and 1944, 100,000 troops from all over the country slogged through its borders, including most of four Army divisions that served in both the Pacific and European theaters of war.

At one time, Camp Adair was home to 35,000 people and was considered the second largest city in Oregon. When the conflict abroad concluded, many of those soldiers returned to the Willamette Valley, impacting the state's population and economic growth.


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