Friday, September 14, 2012

Camp Huntsville WWII Prisoner Of War Camp

Last weekend my husband and I visited the Country Campus Golf Course. It is  located about 10 miles northeast of Huntsville on SH 19 near the City of Riverside.

This nine-hole golf course was once the location of a POW camp during World War II. German and Japanese prisoners of war were transported to Texas and held here until the end of the war.

I found the following information about Camp Huntsville on the Walker County Historical Commission's web site.

Camp Huntsville was one of the first prisoner of war camps built in the U.S. during World War II and the first in Texas. It was was built in the spring and summer of 1942 and included facilities to accommodate 4,800 prisoners. It consisted of more than 400 buildings, including a cafeteria, gymnasium, laundry, and hospital. There were clubs for commissioned and noncommissioned officers, and separate barracks for the American and prisoner personnel.

The first prisoners to use the camp were members of Germany’s Afrika Korps who arrived in the spring of 1943. By the fall of the same year, the camp’s population hit its peak at 4,840. Two years later, it became a branch camp for Camp Hearne where its prisoners were sent to make way for the arrival of a small group of Japanese prisoners. The Army closed the camp in December 1945, and all prisoners were repatriated.

After the War, the Camp was donated to Sam Houston State Teachers' College (now Sam Houston State University), who renamed it the Country Campus and turned it into an almost a self-sustaining city with living quarters for students and professors, a hospital, post office, fire department, meat processing plant, gymnasium and cafeteria.

After the University closed the Country Campus, they sold the land to Sam Dominey, the son of the original owners. A few of the original buildings remain and the land is used for cattle ranching and a golf course.

I made the following video of the the golf course and the buildings from the prison that are still standing.

I like to learn about the history of my state and my country. It is was hard to process the fact that we were playing golf on the same location that housed thousands of Nazi prisoners some 70 years ago. The following state historical marker is posted at the entrance to the golf course.

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