Louis Aulbach to give talk on Camp Logan:
A World War I training camp in Houston
by Linda Gorski
If you’ve ever paddled Buffalo
Bayou from Woodway to downtown you will have passed the site of one of the
largest WWI training camps in the nation… and may not have even realized
On January 17th,
HCC members Louis Aulbach and Linda
Gorski, will present a program to the
Fort Bend Archeological Society on Camp Logan, the World War I training camp
that was built to house over 44,000 soldiers on the banks of Buffalo Bayou in
Houston in what is now Memorial Park.
The program will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the George Memorial Library in
Richmond. You don’t have to be a
member – the meeting is free and open to the public and easily accessible to
those folks from HCC who live in Fort Bend County or on the west side of
Louis Aulbach gives
a Camp Logan tour
Camp Logan was an emergency training center in World War I,
located on the earlier site of a National Guard Camp just beyond the western
city limits of Houston. It was named for Major General John A. Logan, a
prominent Civil War Union officer. The land was leased by the
United States from the Hogg family who, by World War I had assembled the block
of land that includes Memorial Park in their vast real estate holdings.
Construction of the center began on July 24, 1917 in the
area that is now Memorial Park. he developed area of Camp Logan was
3,002 acres within a tract of 9,560 acres.
Camp Logan was a tent camp supplemented by 1,329 wooden buildings with a
troop capacity of 44,899 men. “As you
walk or run through Memorial Park now… or paddle by it… it’s hard to imagine a huge sprawling military
base on its grounds, but historic photographs of the camp depict row after row
of tents on wooden platforms along graded streets near mess halls
and latrines – and many of those foundation features are still visible in the
wooded areas of the park,” said Aulbach.
“One of the features paddlers may notice as they paddle past
Memorial Park are bridge abutments in the middle of Buffalo Bayou. These held up a bridge that connected the
main part of Camp Logan to parade fields on the south side of the Bayou. The ruins of the concrete bridge are also
visible along the mountain bike trail in the Park,” said Aulbach.
Completion of the first phase of the camp was accomplished
by August 15, 1917 setting a record for
construction of World War I camps. Within three months, more than 30,000
men were living and training at Camp Logan. Most of tents had wooden walls about 4 feet
high. The streets in Camp Logan
were unpaved or surfaced with oyster shell or cinders. The City of
Houston hired Layne & Bowler Company to drill a 600 foot deep water well
south of Washington Avenue to service the camp and that well produced over 1
million gallons of water per day!
A complete sewer and trench system was installed.
Sewer lines were of ceramic pipe with brick and mortar manholes. In
addition to the main camp, a Remount Depot was constructed just west of the
main camp. The Base Hospital was at the southeastern corner of Camp
Logan. A rifle range was built 8 miles west on Hillendahl Road.
Drill fields were between 1 and 2 miles northwest of the camp proper. In
short, Camp Logan was a huge place! “The
thing that surprises us is how little you will hear or read about Camp Logan in
any of the books dedicated to Houston's history. Even the Handbook of
Texas dedicates just one paragraph to it,” said Linda Gorski. “Most of the residents of River Oaks have no
idea that Camp Logan extended across Buffalo Bayou and that horses and men
paraded on grounds that are now their front yards,” she said.
Despite the enormous amount of work that went into building
Camp Logan, it only operated as a military establishment for 20 months, from
1917 - 1919. On March 20, 1919 it was turned over to the U.S. Public
Health Service. In 1919 a building at Camp Logan, used by the American
Red Cross during WW I, was converted into a hospital for charity purposes.
Shortly after World War I, Mike and Will Hogg regained
possession of the tract on which Camp Logan was built. The City of
Houston acquired the property from them for the development of Memorial Park in
We may not be able to see any of the buildings at Camp Logan
above the ground today, but according to a recent archeological survey, the
camp has left its mark on Memorial Park: "The imprint of Camp Logan
remains clear to this day. The system of roads and drainage ditches form
visible lineations matching the camp map grid where ground disturbances have
In his presentation Aulbach will highlight Camp Logan
through a series of maps, letters and postcards left behind by Paul V.
Hendrickson, a private stationed at the camp in 1917. He will also use recent photos to show
archeological remains of the camp.
Louis F. Aulbach is the author of five best selling river guides to the
rivers of West Texas, including three guides to the Rio Grande, a guide to the
Pecos River and a guide to the Devils River. His first river guide, called the
Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande, was first published in 1987 and is now in its
His current projects include a guide to Buffalo Bayou in Houston, which delves
extensively into the local history along the city's most famous stream
Aulbach, a native Houstonian, is a graduate of St. Thomas High School, Rice
University and the University of Chicago. He recently retired after over
17 years as the Records Management Officer for the City of Houston. He
served on the Harris County Historical Commission in the 2009-2010 term.
Updated information to his published guides and excerpts from his
current projects can be found on Aulbach's website: http://users.hal-pc.org/~lfa/ For more information about this program on
Camp Logan, contact firstname.lastname@example.org