Work on Camp White
Thursday July 7, 2005
By Alice Mullaly
Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson
Where does a town put everyone when its population doubles in a month? That was the problem faced by Medford at the beginning of World War II when a training base was built in Southern Oregon.
Beginning at the end of February 1942, 8,000 men were hired to build more than 900 buildings and the entire infrastructure required for Camp White.
Where did the workers live? Many took shelter in a tent city that sprang up on the north edge of Medford. Row upon row of structures were built with wood floors and walls up about four feet with tents covering the top. Families would get a 15-by-18-foot home with a gas stove, a sink, and water taps just outside. There was a store and a meeting hall where youngsters in the area roller-skated. When a shift ended, the children of the tent-city lined up along the one road from the camp, trying to spot their father's car in the long line of traffic coming in from work.
As suddenly as it all began, the work was over. On August 15, 1942 Camp White was dedicated and the huge workforce drifted away or found employment in the mills.
Today's episode of As It Was was written by Alice Mullaly [ MUH-LOLLIE], the program engineer is Raymond Scully. I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org
Hutchinson, Barbara Clymer,"Tent City," January, 1996, SOHS vertical file for Camp White: Sept, Richard, " Army Turned Desert into Training Base," Medford Mail Tribune, March 23, 1989, Section D.