Rediscovering Fort Knox - War necessitates the need for Camp Knox

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The United States’ entry into the First World War in 1917 necessitated the establishment of new military installations. Camp Zachary Taylor, in Louisville, Kentucky, became the first of 16 new Army cantonments completed to mobilize and train Soldiers.


In December of that year, nearby West Point became the site for a new artillery range for troops stationed at Camp Taylor. The following spring, a tented cantonment was established and the first field artillery unit from 84th Division moved there April 1, 1918. Additional field artillery units followed to utilize the expanding ranges.

That summer, the War Department selected Stithton, a small farming community south of West Point, as the location to establish a Field Artillery Brigade Firing Center Cantonment for six brigades, which meant the addition of 45,000 men.

Construction of buildings was organized under Constructing Quartermaster Maj. W. H. Radcliffe. Reflecting its relationship to artillery, the new post was named in honor of Gen. Henry Knox, chief of artillery during the Revolutionary War, and the first Secretary of War.

In October 1918, Godman Field became the first airfield in Kentucky for use by 29th Aero Squadron; that same year the Camp Knox News was founded. At the end of the war in November 1918, 10,000 officers and enlisted Soldiers at Camp Knox posed for a panoramic photograph in West Point, spelling out the name of the Army’s new post. Construction of the camp was shortened to three brigades, but it secured status as a permanent artillery training cantonment.

Units begin to demobilize at Camp Knox and the “tented” camp at West Point vanished by the end of
the year.