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Camp Howze Museum

Camp History

Prior to the Second World War, businessman Clifford McMahon and several members of the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce petitioned the War Department for the construction of a new military facility outside of Gainesville, Texas. After a year of planning, War Department officials approved the construction of an Army camp located in Gainesville. Named for Congressional Medal of Honor recipient General Robert Lee Howze of Overton, Texas, construction of Camp Howze was swift and was completed between June and August of 1942. Camp Howze officially began operations and opened on August 17, 1942. Camp Howze trained 40,000 soldiers at a time and  included the 84th “Rail-splitters” Division, the 86th “Black Hawk” Division, and the 103rd “Cactus” Division. Camp Howze also contained several important facilities that included a hospital, bus station, mess hall, armory, chemical training areas, various chapels, movie theaters and four USO clubs, one was for black soldiers. In addition, the camp had a post office, Provost Marshal's Office, and an Army Air Field. The 1885th Quartermaster Detachment Unit, 8th Service Command played an important role in the procurement, storage, and distribution of food, clothing, and supplies at Camp Howze. 


Fall 1940 - Clifford McMahon of the Gainesvile Chamber of Commerce contacts the War Department and recommends Cooke County for a military training facility

January 31, 1941 - Quartermaster Corps send a questionnaire to Gainesville city officials seeking their thoughts and opinions on an army camp coming to the county

December 7, 1941 - Pearl Harbor attack by Japan brings United States into World War II

December 18, 1941 - War Department notifies Gainesville that they have been selected as a finalist location for a wartime army camp

January 7, 1942 - Building contracts for the camp were issued to a Dallas construction firm, Rollins and Forest, for $30 million

March 20, 1942 - The city of Gainesville and Cooke County officially announce the camp's approval to the public and planning begins

April 1942 - A railroad spur to the newly acquired land for the camp begins construction, branching from the Santa Fe railroad

May 6, 1942 - The name of the camp is officially revealed, being named in honor of Robert E. Lee Howze.

August 1, 1942 - First twenty-five Quartermaster men report for duty

August 17, 1942 - Camp Howze officially opened for operation

The exact date of Camp Howze's deactivation is unknown but estimated closure was during October 1945. On February 18, 1946 the camp was declared surplus and decontamination of surface and sub-surface ordnance was conducted.  Surplus buildings, miscellaneous supplies, and Jeeps were sold to veterans first, then civilians. Camp paraphernalia were sold to businesses, universities and local businesses in Gainesville and the surrounding Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. A few structures remained at the former camp site and the land was sold to local farmers. Decades later the United States Army Corps of Engineers surveilled the land and  conducted another ordnance decontamination removed subsurface explosives. Beverage cans, construction nails, and ordnance buried underground memorialized a former mlitary training camp that prepared soldiers for battle overseas. Today, the water tower, and permanent building posts remain as reminders of what used to be Camp Howze.