History

Post image for Barbara Wilcox writes a book about Army training in Menlo Park at Camp Fremont

Hidden World War I tunnels on the Stanford campus? Author Barbara Wilcox first heard about them from a geophysicist colleague when she was working at the USGS in Menlo Park. She later learned that as America entered World War I in 1917, Stanford University leased three-fourths of its Palo Alto land to allow the creation of an Army training camp, Camp Fremont, headquartered in present-day Menlo Park.

“It immediately piqued my interest,” she recalled. “Today there is separation between academia and classified defense work. I wanted to find out what made it ok, why it was a sensible thing for Stanford to do. It also made a great thesis topic.”

The resulting thesis, which Barbara wrote for her Masters of Liberal Arts at Stanford, is now a book called World War I Army Training by San Francisco Bay: The Story of Camp Fremont, which is being published today and available on Amazon.

“Residents of Menlo Park, live on Camp Fremont’s footprint,” she said. “It covered roughly the area bounded by El Camino, Valparaiso, The Alameda and San Francisquito Creek. There was also an artillery unit roughly where Stanford West is now.”

She describes the book as being an “interpretive history of the era,” asking large questions as why was it here, why we should care, and what lasting impact did it have.

Camp Fremont, from postcard

Camp Fremont, from postcard

One answer, according to Barbara, is the technology transfer that happened. “The engineers learned things at the Camp that they used to develop the West,” she cited as example.

Another, the cartographic system that was used at the Camp was picked up by USGS to map California. Then there was the lasting infrastructure which includes the VA Hospital on Willow Rd. and the sewer system that lasted through 2000 or so.

soldiers with dog

“The engineers, who were mostly from the western United States, were there to build structure that would be used in combat on the Western front,” she said. “When the war ended, they used that knowledge of infrastructure for peaceful purposes.”

Barbara, a Menlo Park resident, will be giving a talk about her research and the book on Jan. 19, 2016, to the Stanford Historical Society at 5:00 pm. The event, which is open to the public, will take place at the Jordan Hall Auditorium (Bldg. 420, Room 40 at the basement level), 450 Serra Mall, on the Stanford campus.

Photo of Barbara Wilcox by Linda Hubbard (c) 2015; photo postcard of Camp Fremont, courtesy of Menlo Park Historical Association; soldiers with dog courtesy of Bob Swanson collection

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The “mother of all demos” took place in Menlo Park 47 years ago today

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Forty-seven years ago today, the computer mouse debuted. And so did other innovations, including hypertext, object addressing, dynamic file sharing and shared-screen collaboration between two people at different sites communicating over a network. The 90-minute live presentation of the online system, NLS, was given by Douglas C. Engelbart and the 17 researchers working with him in the […]

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A new mini-exhibit with photos and other items chronicling Menlo Park schools from 1875 to 1927 is featured in the Menlo Park Library’s downstairs display case through October 30th. What is the significance of these dates? In the 19th century, the name Menlo Park was used for essentially all the area between Redwood City and the […]

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Menlo Park through the decades is subject of new book packed with photos

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Some things stay the same: Lutticken’s and Country Corner are in their familiar places along the Alameda. Ann’s Coffee Shop and Flegel’s can still be found on Santa Cruz Avenue. But did you know that Sharon Heights was once the name of a 32-room mansion, not just a neighborhood. And during the 50s, helicopters were manufactured in […]

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Add Janes Swim Club reunion planned for Sept. 26

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Foster’s Freeze – suddenly Menlo Park’s hot spot!

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Looks like a whole new generation of teens has [finally] discovered Foster’s Freeze. There was a big crowd there yesterday, which was an early dismissal day at Menlo-Atherton. Why were they there, we asked? “Because it’s closing,” was the universal answer. As part of the cohort that really did go there everyday at lunch while […]

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A Menlo mystery: Where did this big bone come from?

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Former Menlo Oaks resident recalls growing up in the same neighborhood as Gayle King

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In honor of the Grateful Dead’s farewell concerts, a guide to Dead places in Menlo Park and Atherton

Thumbnail image for In honor of the Grateful Dead’s farewell concerts, a guide to Dead places in Menlo Park and Atherton

Editor’s note: In advance of their farewell tour appearance at Levi Stadium tonight and tomorrow night. We touched base with music chronicler — and Grateful Dead historian/expert — Corry Arnold to see if he had a list of places in Menlo Park that are part of Grateful Dead lore. And sure enough, he had that […]

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