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Campbell Garrison: War in the Woods

Small Web version of WWII interpretive panel installed at Campbell Tract trailhead(The following text appears on one of four interpretive panels on the Campbell Tract trail system to acquaint visitors with the area's history.)

A primitive jeep trail led to Campbell Garrison and Campbell Airstrip through the birch woods. As the airstrip took shape, the soldiers began to adapt their surroundings for the long hard winter ahead. They built a guard shack and barracks huts out of saplings and then insulated them with double layers of sod. After the first few months, the Campbell Garrison looked more like a Boy Scout camp with tents and improvised shelters, rather than a military installation. The huts kept some of the snow off and could be heated.
 
Digging fortifications became another priority before the ground froze. Anti-aircraft gun emplacements, machine-gun nests, and foxholes ringed the airstrip. More foxholes protected troops near offices and quarters. Those entrenchments, now mere depressions among the trees, are still visible reminders of World War II.
 
As soon as possible, Quonset huts made up of arced steel sections replaced tents and temporary huts. United States Army Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force planes and crews used the Campbell Airstrip before flying on to the Aleutian Islands.
  • Photo captions and credits:
    • Campbell Garrison guard house on Campbell Airstrip Road (F. Robert Grant)
    • Sapling framework for temporary hut (F. Robert Grant)
    • Imagine guarding Campbell Creek Garrison during an Anchorage winter in a uniform designed for Washington, D.C. Staying warm was a full-time job. (National Geographic)
    • Campbell Creek salmon and moose supplemented the mess hall chow. Powdered eggs, canned vegetables, and canned meat made up the bulk of Army rations. Fresh fish, meat and berries added welcome variety to the soldier's diet. (National Archives)
    • Quonset hut office (3rd Wing History Office, Elmendorf AFB)
    • Air crew ready room (3rd Wing History Office, Elmendorf AFB)
    • Home away from home (3rd Wing History Office, Elmendorf AFB)
    • Quonset hut mess hall kitchen (National Archives)
    • Between Campbell Creek and the airstrip, a village of Quonset huts quickly took shape.
    • Quonset huts were lightweight, prefabricated structures that bolted together quickly and were used around the world. The design was based on the Nissen hut developed by the British during W. W. I. Over 150,000 were manufactured during W.W. II, and later were sold to the public for $1,000. (Kodiak Historical Society)

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