Starting in 1917 and up to the 1990’s, almost 1,500,000 military troops trained at Fort Ord. It was a major army post, located here in the Monterey Bay, in California’s central coast.
Although the post closed in 1994, many of the old buildings remain.
Because I was in the military, there is a part of me that is nostalgic about these buildings…and having lived at military bases, they are familiar to me.
In addition to its role as a major training base for the army, Fort Ord was also a staging and deployment area for troops that fought in World War II, as well as the Vietnam war.
Word War II is known as the most violent and largest armed conflict in history, and troops who trained here were involved in battles in the Philippines — my home country — after the Japanese conquered the Philippines in 1942.
Many of the old buildings at Fort Ord have already been torn down, and eventually, these will too, to be replaced with new housing communities, office and service facilities, and new shopping centers.
I’ve wanted to photograph some of these old buildings before they are gone forever, and glad that I finally had a chance to do so this month.
I was in the Air Force, and our living quarters were called “dormitories”. But in the army and other armed forces, buildings that house soldiers are called “barracks”. Definition below:
The English word comes via French from an old Catalan word “barraca” (hut), originally referring to temporary shelters or huts for various people and animals, but today barracks, are usually permanent buildings for military accommodation.
…The main object of barracks is to separate soldiers from the civilian population and reinforce discipline, training, and esprit de corps.
Still…I think it is worth posting, and preserving these images, especially as the landscape transitions to something else.
I imagined this place once filled with many soldiers, and the bugle sounds of the morning reveille — the wake up call (short sound clip below).
Over 20 years after the post closure, the abandoned barracks stand, wounded by vandals, and awaiting their end.
Most of the buildings have broken windows…
Doors removed, stairs missing or overtaken by iceplants…
Debris around some of the buildings…
What remains at the Imjin exit side of Fort Ord are mature eucalyptus trees, and the ever-present and invasive ice plants — planted there to contain the sand and for erosion control.
Across the street from these barracks, a wellness center and a shopping center is in place, and beyond these new buildings are brand new housing communities.
The Ford Ord land also houses facilities used by California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB). With plenty of land available to construct new buildings, CSUMB is predicted to eventually be the largest in the California State University system.
It’s not all going to be developed though…
Thankfully, three years ago, a large part of the Fort Ord area became a national monument, and is federally protected from further development — a great thing for the Monterey Bay area!
In addition to the interior part of the Fort Ord land, beaches in this area are also part of the national monument / California State Park system, and land set aside for the public.
And so the Fort Ord land that started as an artillery training field almost 100 years ago, and was a major post for the military from World War I to 1994 now continues its transition, with much of the land going back to public use.
Are there military base closures where you live? How has the government and community transformed the land after closing the military facility?
Related link: President Barack Obama Proclamation – Establishment of the Fort Ord National Monument
…The protection of the Fort Ord area will maintain its historical and cultural significance, attract tourists and recreationalists from near and far, and enhance its unique natural resources, for the enjoyment of all Americans.