|Maj. Gen George White whom the Camp was named for.||Captain Mel Cotton Founder of the Camp White Military Museum and one of the co - founders of the Camp White Historical Association|
In early 1941 there was an article in the Medford Mail Tribune that the Chamber of Commerce had forwarded information to the War Department on potential sites for a training facility in the Medford area. Three months later, in May, the Quartermaster Corps set up an office in Medford to make a preliminary survey for a proposed cantonment in the Antelope area.
The area the army was interested in was the “Agate Desert”, a flat area seven miles east of Medford. The flat topography would be perfect for the buildings and parade grounds the army would need. The army wanted to survey and plan the camp in case it should be needed.
Myron Hunt from the Los Angeles firm of Hunt and Chambers was primarily responsible for the design of the camp. Harold I. Wood from the engineering firm of Blackie and Wood designed the site and systems (road ways, waterlines, sewer, phone, electrical and other infrastructure). Hunt and Wood were to proceed with the blueprints so that the plans and specifications could be submitted if and when actual construction was sanctioned. A huge architects office was set up in the Medford Armory with personnel from the two men’s staffs, younger local architects, civilians and members of the Corps of Engineers.
In May 1941 the War Department announced its decision that one of nine new training camps would be Camp White. In November of 1941 the planning was nearing completion. Three days after the engineering office finished the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, War was declared on December 7, 1941 and the camp would be needed. On January 7, 1942 the camp in Medford and another in Corvallis received the go ahead. Actual construction began on February 25, 1942 and the camp was completed on December 14, 1942.
The general plan of the camp involved three zones. There was a central building core for services, housing and administration and two huge flanking ranges for field training and maneuvers. The northwest range was the “Beagle Range” and the southwest one was the “Antelope Range”. The building core was a mile wide rectangle, its shape broken only by the addition of the station hospital, an angled portion north of the main headquarters on the west side of Crater Lake Highway which would bisect the building core north to south.
Five firms combined forces and submitted the low bid of $27,500,000. This group was known as CMC and at least three of the firms had worked together on other camps. The building for the their use was started in mid January. The camp buildings were simply designed for versatility of use and speed of construction. Trim, exterior siding and other details were uniform to provide a “Camp White” look. Individual work crews specialized in each construction phase. Work proceeded around the clock under huge lights. Traffic on Crater Laky Highway was so heavy it was made one way coming out from Medford with Table Rock Road going the other direction. More than 10,000 workers were involved. Many workers lived in tent cities. Despite the speed, the camp was well built.On September 15, 1942, the camp was officially dedicated as “Camp George A. White” after the adjutant general of the Oregon National Guard, who had recently died. The camp involved 77 square miles and trained 40,000 troops at a time. It was the second largest city in the state.