Hollister Field Office

7th ID USA insigniaFort Ord History - Fort Ord National Monument 

'History of Fort Ord' image from 6th ID yearbook

A Brief History of the Fort Ord National Monument

The Presidio of Monterey was the primary U.S. Army facility in the Monterey Bay region after the Mexican-American War of 1848 and Spanish-American War of 1898.  American troops and cavalry began to ride up from the Presidio in 1904 to bivouac and conduct training exercises in the dunes and backcountry of Fort Ord.  At this time the lands which would become the National Monument were referred to in the Gigling Farm and the original Spanish and Mexican land grants: El Toro, El Chamisal, and Monterey City (Pueblo) Tracts No.1 and No.2.

People had already settled onto these city 'public lands' as early as the 1850s and were working as cattle or sheep ranchers, engaged in firewood collection for sale in the cities like Monterey or Carmel, or operated small-scale sand mines.  One such family, the Hennekens, lived near present-day Henneken Lake for over 20 years during the 1880s until 1901 and maintained a ranch operation at the site until the 1930s.

Henneken Ranch ruins, BLM photo

Henneken Ranch Ruins

Kaspar Henneken, patriarch of the family, was a Civil War veteran who made a homestead claim around 1887 but was ultimately denied the claim after David Jacks proved ownership of the City Lands tracts in 1901.  David Jacks was a powerful attorney and land owner in the Monterey area who also operated various dairying operations - creating the popular variety Jack cheese.

In 1917, the U.S. Army purchased 'Gigling Reservation' which comprised over 15,000 acres of land within the Monterey City Land tracts and the Gigling family farm.  The Reservation was created to accomodate the training of soldiers coming up from the Presidio of Monterey.

The military reservation offered a place for troops to perform extensive maneuvers and landscape-level training that was not available on the Presidio grounds.  Units such as the 11th Cavalry and 76th Field Artillery conducted exercises and perfected their tasks to be ready for combat.

Army Day at Camp Ord April 1940, image U.S. Army

"Army Day" Howitzer Display at Camp Ord, April 1940

As war was looming in the Pacific during the late 1930s, the U. S. Army purchased more lands in the region, including lands owned by the David Jacks Corporation, and established Camp Pacific.  Soon to follow were Camp Clayton and Camp Ord.  In 1940 on the eve of World War II, the camps were consolidated to create Fort Ord.  The post was named to honor General Edward Otho Cresap Ord, hero of the Civil War.

Following World War II in 1945, Fort Ord began to expand its role as a soldier training center, pressed into service during the Cold War era.  Fort Ord trained tens of thousands of soldiers to fight in the Korean War during the 1950s and then for the VietNam War during the 1960s to 1970s.

Map reading class held outdoors at Fort Ord, image U.S. Army

Map Reading Class held outdoors at Fort Ord

Image of troops in "CBR" training, image U.S. Army

Troops Prepare for "CBR" ("Chemical, Biological, Radiological") Warfare Training

During the 1980s and early 1990s, Fort Ord created the Lightfighters: a brand of light infantry designed for rapid deployment on short notice to any military theater as needed.  The 6th and 7th Infantry Divisions had their primary 'home' at Fort Ord although these Divisions have history at other posts and countries. 

Sgt Allen McDonald (ret.) with Comanche at Fort Ord, image U.S. Army

Allen McDonald atop Comanche at Fort Ord

The Henneken Ranch site is also the final resting place of the U.S. Army parade horse "Comanche."  Comanche was the mount for Sgt. Allen McDonald (U.S. Army ret.) who is one of the last surviving soldiers that joined the U.S. Cavalry when horses were primary mode of transportation.  In 1950 however the U.S. Army reorganized their materiel and placed Cavalry units into Armor units, ultimately creating Armored Cavalry units and Air Cavalry units during the mid-1960s - replacing horses with helicopters on the conventional battlefield.  Horses and mules are still used by the U.S. Army today but on a limited basis.

Comanche's Gravesite, BLM photo

Comanche's Grave

Projectile point, photo by BLMPetryglyph, photo by BLMHistoric structures, photo by BLM

BLM Cultural Resources

Did You Know?

The BLM Fort Ord National Monument was created in a large part to the vision of a past BLM employee and VietNam veteran?  Steve Addington, who passed away in 2004, was a Marine Corps photo-journalist who eventually came to work for the BLM in the 1970s.  Read more about Mr. Addington and his participation in the creation of these 'public lands' into a National Monument here.

A Henneken family member on a cow, image courtesy Henneken Family

Henneken Family member on top of a cow at the old Henneken Ranch

 Fort Ord Historical Video

Presidio of Monterey in the Field 1938

Battleground: 7th Infantry Division

Battleground: The "I" in Infantry

7th ID insignia

7th Infantry Division Insignia

Did You Know?

 Karl F. Biehler photograph of World War II Prisoners of War from Fort Ord, California (ca.1944), image U.S. Army

Photograph of World War II Prisoners of War from Fort Ord, California (ca.1944, Karl F. Biehler Collection, U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center)

There were World War II Prisoners of War (POWs) quartered at Fort Ord during 1944-1945.  Some German and Italian soldiers captured from the European battlefront were brought all the way to California until the end of the War.  The men in the photo above were used as farm laborers during an emergency rubber plant growing project.  The image is from the Karl F. Biehler collection and is available on-line from the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center.

Did You Know?

Fort Ord was a pilot study site for Project VOLAR, a model test for a new all-volunteer Army.  Read more about Fort Ord's part in this transition from the book Building a Volunteer Army: The Fort Ord Contribution.

Cover for "Modern Volunteer Army" book, image U.S. Army

Associated Oil Pumping Station 2, image courtesy R.C. Baker Museum

Want more Fort Ord history?  Visit our Coalinga-Monterey Pipeline web page.

Bureau of Land Management
Hollister Field Office
Fort Ord National Monument
20 Hamilton Court
Hollister, CA 95023
Phone: (831) 394-8314
Fax: (831) 394-8346
Contact us by Email

Bureau of Land Management
Hollister Field Office
20 Hamilton Court
Hollister, CA 95023
Phone: (831) 630-5000
Fax: (831) 630-5055
Office Hours: 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., M-F
Contact us by Email