Fort Holabird, Maryland
Camp Holabird (later to become Fort Holabird) was located two or three miles southeast of Baltimore on the Patapsco River, which feeds into Chesapeake Bay. In the pre-World War II era, one of its key purposes was to serve as a proving ground for U.S. Army vehicles, including what was to become the workhorse of the Army, the Jeep.
In more recent years, the Fort had served as the location for the U.S. Army Intelligence Center.
That facility was moved to Fort Huachuca, Arizona in the early 1970's and a special commission in 1995 recommended Holabird be closed.
- 1917: Founded as Camp Holabird, established as an Army motor transport training center and depot.
- 1918 or after: Became the Holabird Quartermaster Depot.
- 1942: Renamed as Holabird Ordnance Depot.
- 1943: Renamed as Holabird Signal Depot.
- 1947: Renamed as Camp Holabird.
- later: Renamed as a fort. The U.S. Army Intelligence School and Counter Intelligence Records Facility was here until closed and transferred to Fort Huachuca in Arizona in 1971.
- 1973: Closed.
The Quartermaster Review – March-April 1928
1928 Article on the main transportation depot and motor transport school for the Army
ESTABLISHMENT OF CAMP HOLABIRD
Camp Holabird is situated within the city limits of the city of Baltimore, about six miles southeast of the center of the city in the section that is known as the industrial district of that great city.
Camp Holabird was established in 1917, and at the present time comprises a reservation of 161 acres, bounded on the north by Fifth Avenue and on the south by Colgate Creek at the mouth of the Patapsco River, which empties into the Chesapeake Bay. The camp is accessible by railway, highway, and water transport. It was originally established by the War Department as a motor transport corps storage depot, a motor transport school, a repair shop for the purpose of assembling vehicles destined for overseas use during the World War, and the crating of the vehicles and shipping them abroad, also for the assembling of personnel and organizing them into the different types of units, giving them their original training and dispatching them to the port of embarkation for duties abroad.
The location is considered ideal, as it has railway terminals, waterway terminals, and a magnificent network of highways. Baltimore enjoys a wonderful harbor, second in the United States, and its advantages as a port for the shipping of material for overseas expeditions cannot be surpassed. This with the easy access of delivering the materials manufactured elsewhere in the United States was the reason for the locating of the facility at this camp.
The construction is war-time construction except the storage warehouse, the motor transport shops, and the machinery store house, which was originally built for crating knocked-down automobiles and trucks. The dimensions of the repair shop building are 497 1/2 feet by 480 feet, having a platform and floor area of 263,100 square feet. The floor space is arranged so that
120 vehicles can be worked on at the same time. With a full force of men working eight hours a day, it has the facilities to turn out thirty vehicles completely rebuilt in a day. Where the work is only overhaul, it has the capacity of from 50 to 60 vehicles per day, which can be increased to 100 vehicles per day, provided the men work two shifts. This shop will accommodate 1,457 men working on a single shift.
Adjacent to the repair shop are two fireproof storage buildings, exactly alike, 136 feet by 720 feet, containing a combined floor and platform area of 251,350 square feet. These buildings are of permanent construction and are modern up-to-date spare-parts supply storage buildings.
The crating shop is a fireproof building of steel and concrete, irregular in form, having maximum outside dimensions of 303 feet by 368 feet, and a platform and floor space of 128,900 square feet. It has lumber and storage sheds adjacent thereto of 60 x 144 feet. The crating shop is equipped with electrical cranes. Working full time with full shift, 150 trucks or automobiles can be disassembled, packed and crated per day, working one eight-hour shift.
All of these buildings are equipped with the automatic sprinkler system for fire protection. For the shelter and protection of automobiles and bicycles, there is a wooden storage shed 140 x 544 feet with 77,100 square feet of floor space, with a capacity for 500 cars. This is equipped with a dry system of automatic sprinklers for fire purposes.
QUARTERS FOR PERSONNEL
The housing of the officers and enlisted men is in the standard wooden cantonment buildings. There are quarters for 600 men and 25 officers. In addition thereto, there are bachelor quarters for 12 officers. All are of the wooden cantonment type converted, except the commanding officer’s house, which is a modern concrete bungalow. There is a modern up-to-date station hospital, fully equipped but in an old cantonment building, with a capacity of 30 beds.
In addition to these buildings, there is a group of nineteen brick buildings formerly belonging to the Federal Distilling Company, which were occupied at the time the reservation was purchased. These buildings house the Third Corps Area headquarters warehouse, laundry, pumping plant, and other utilities as well as quartermaster storage.
ACTIVITIES DURING THE WORLD WAR
The original organization of the depot at Camp Holabird began with Mechanical Repair Shop Unit No. 306, with its headquarters at 1421 I Street, northwest, Washington, D. C. In the month of March, 1918, Mechanical Repair Unit 306 was transferred from Camp Meigs, Washington, D.C., to the present site at Camp Holabird. This was the beginning of this depot. In March, 1918 the camp was named "Holabird" in memory of Brig. Gen. S. B. Holabird, who was Quartermaster General of the United States Army July 1, 1883, to June 16, 1890.
The supply activities at this depot consisted mainly of the receiving, storing, and shipping of vehicles, spare parts, and accessories for use overseas. At the same time this depot supplied the training camps and other War Department activities in the New England States and Middle Atlantic States as far south and including the State of Virginia. Vehicles were evacuated from
the factories in the Great Lakes region to Holabird and there were stored prior to being shipped by the personnel at this depot. The repair activities consisted chiefly of the repair of vehicles used in the territory mentioned above. For this purpose the shop building and machinery were built and installed.
A training school or a motor transport center was established in order to train units that were going abroad, segregating the individuals according to their trade specifications and assigning them to the units, using the personnel in the depot activities and convoy activities as their preliminary training prior to departure for overseas. During the year 1918 the following motor transport corps units were organized at Camp Holabird and dispatched overseas:
Machine Shop Truck Units Nos. 387, 388, 389.
Left September 8, 1918, 5.5. Desna; arrived Brest, France, September 21, 1918.
Water Tank Train No.301.
Left September 25, 1918, 5. 5. Cronies; arrived Cherbourg, France, October 11, 1918.
Water Tank Train No.302, Hq. and Cos. A, B, C, D, E, F.
Left September 29, 1918, 5. 5. Leviathan; arrived Brest, France, October 7, 1918.
Repair Unit No.307 M. T. C.
Left October 20, 1918, 5. 5. Grampian; arrived Liverpool, England, October 31, 1918.
Service Park Units Nos. 413, 414, 415, 418, 419, 420, 421, 422.
Left November 12, 1918, 5.5. Ulua; arrived Brest, France, November 24, 1918.