The Great Demand for Uniform Clothing at US Training Camps

At the onset of World War 1, the US Military was in need of a large amount of clothing for all branches of the armed services, and very quickly. The US Government did have private manufacturers for uniform clothing, but Government itself manufactured more uniforms than it secured from any single outside source during World War 1.

The Quartermaster Depot, Jeffersonville, Indiana

There were two government uniform factories. One was located at the Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot, and the second was at the Quartermaster Depot in Jeffersonville Indiana. The Jeffersonville Depot produced army shirts, breeches and outer clothing. It expanded in size to cover 10 square blocks during the war, and it became the largest shirt manufacturing plant in the world.

The Jeffersonville Uniform Factory, which was just across the Ohio River from Louisville Ky, was established in February 1918. Louisville already had several operating clothing and cotton mill factories. Many experienced workers were easily secured to work in the government factory, with wages offered for the all women production force starting at $50 and up to $80 per month. The factory operated two shifts of eight hours, and produced 750 woolen coats and 1,500 pairs of woolen trousers per day. The factory employed approximately 2000 workers at it’s peak.

The Jeffersonville plant also installed the most modern “woolen cloth shrinking equipment” in the United States. At the cost of $50,000 to install, it could treat 10,000 yards of wool per day. The US Army plant in Jeffersonville was able to make uniforms at a cost of 25% less than those purchased from private manufacturers. The cost to produce a woolen Service Coat was $1.02, and a pair of Breeches cost .54 cents.

Standard WW1 Army Issue Wool Shirt and Breeches

The great demand for clothing and skilled seamstresses was so strong in 1918, that the US Army implemented a program of hiring expert seamstresses to work and teach out of their homes. The new sewing women, who had volunteered to work from home, were recruited through newspaper ads, and the assembled sewing force grew to approximately 20,000 women operatives, which were located in practically every town and village throughout southern Indiana and northern Kentucky.

This new sewing force increased the output of shirts from 600,000 per year at the QM Depot, to 8,500,000 per year. Each home worker was supplied with one complete shirt to be used as a template, and was provided the shirt material from the Jeffersonville factory. The material was pre-cut to a pattern, and bundled in sets of 10 shirts. The completed shirts were inspected by the factory, and cleaned before being shipped out.

Manufacturing at the Jeffersonville Shirt Factory continued at full capacity until the end of the war, where production was halted in November of 1918.

Copyright, CZTHS 2018

The 99 Year Old Motor School Garage to be Taken Down

The last remaining, unaltered building that was constructed during World War 1 at Camp Zachary Taylor, will be dismantled next week. The process will take several weeks to complete, and an attempt to save as much of the structure will be made. The building was the last structure built at the cantonment in 1918, and it almost made it to it’s 100th birthday. But due to water infiltration and rot, the 102′-0 long wooden trusses have caused them to begin to collapse. The building is in imminent danger of falling down.

Ariel view of the Motor School Garage – 2017

The Motor School at Camp Zachary Taylor, was designed to teach soldiers the repair of Trucks, Motorcycles, Automobiles and Artillery Pieces. At the onset of World War 1, the Army realized that there were not enough trained mechanics to provide support to the new mechanized division in the Army. Camp Zachary Taylor built the Largest Mechanic’s School in the World to train those soldiers.


The Motor School Garage was the second garage built. The original garage was 1/4 the size, and stood just a few yards north of the existing building. The New Garage building was 102′-6″ wide and 256′-0 long. The roof was curved and built using lattis trusses for a clear span over the entire building, and it had a concrete floor. A windowed clerestory ran the entire length of the building, allowing for natural light to illuminate the inside during the day.

The original building was taken down, and the lumber was salvaged for use in the new garage. It was announced on October 7, 1918 that the new garage, and additional buildings, would be constructed, which began the first week of November 1918.

View of Garage North Face – 2017

The cost to build all of the structures was $190,456.00. Construction continued until November 11, 1918, when the armistice was signed, halting all hostilities in Europe. The army issued orders immediately cancelling all construction projects in the United States.

North Face 2-07-2018

The Garage was put on hold, and it stood partially built until December 4, 1918, when new orders were issued, re-authorizing the construction to move forward.

View of Garage South Face – 2017

South Face 2-07-2018

Metro Parks uses this facility as their maintenance facility. Their plan is to build a new structure on the same spot, and approximately the same size. The new building will be an all steel structure, and will not resemble the Old Garage, other than it being the same size. The Camp Zachary Taylor Historical Society, along with the Department of Veterans Affairs, is working with Metro Parks and the City of Louisville to save as much of the original building material as possible. The City included in the budget of 2017 the cost to take down the building, and store the material (on site). It will be covered to protect it from the elements.

Our goal is to work with Metro Parks to help encourage the budget committee to provide funding in next years budget to include the funding to build a new stand alone structure in the cost to build the new garage.  The stand alone building would serve as a “History Center” for Camp Zachary Taylor. The History Center would incorporate a Museum and Learning Center that would focus on Camp Zachary Taylor, and Louisville’s participation in World War 1. The History Center building would incorporate as much of the timber and salvaged lumber from the garage in it’s construction.

We hope to get this accomplished in the next several years, and look forward to seeing this come to a reality. Anyone interested in more information about this project, or would like to volunteer in any capacity, please feel free to email us at

Image of building column after exterior sheeting removed, showing extensive damage to the structure.

Original Exterior tar paper that was applied to the building for weatherproofing. The ghost image of the baton strips are visible on the paper.


View of the North Face showing the window bays that ran the entire length of the building. The header in the first bay on the left has broken and is falling down. (indicated by arrow)


Christmas at Camp Zachary Taylor – 100 years ago

Camp Zachary Taylor was open for only a few months before the winter of 1917. Thanksgiving had just past, but the coldest December on record was on it’s way. Christmas was a cold and snowy one. December of 1917 still holds the record for the snowiest and coldest in Louisville.


Christmas Tree in the YMCA Auditorium on Poplar Level Road, 1917.

Days leading up to Christmas in 1917 saw the coldest temperatures ever recorded in December. December 8th was neg. 1, December 9th was neg. 6, December 10th was neg. 4 and December 11th was neg.3 degrees. These four consecutive dates still hold the record for the coldest temps on those dates.


Barracks at Camp Zachary Taylor during the record cold and snowy winter of 1917-1918

The unusual cold weather continued through the month of December 1917 and into January 1918, with the record coldest date for January occurring on January 12, 1918, where it reached -15 below zero. The photo above was taken around that date, and mentions -18 degrees, which it might have been, away from the city.

1917 also hold the record for the most snow fall ever recorded in the month of December, which was 13.6″. The winter of 1917-1918 still hold the record of the most snow in one season, which is 50.2″. It crippled the camp, and the city. Not much moved unless it was mule drawn, as you can see in this photo of soldiers trying to get a team out to the main road, right after one of the snow storms.


Merry Christmas!

Camp Zachary Taylor’s 100th Anniversary Celebration and Tree Planting – November 3, 2017

Friday, November 3, 2017 will mark the Centennial of the official opening of Camp Zachary Taylor in Louisville Ky. The camp had been occupied since September 8th, 1917, and within a couple of months, they had men in uniform and trained in the Military discipline of marching formations.

Civilians along with the media were all invited to attend the dedication services along with the 40,000 men of the 84th Division, and other dignitaries. General Harry Hale gave the dedication speech, which in part read:

“We have been called today to dedicate the flag of our country in the service for which it was designed. Our work at Camp Zachary Taylor is divided into two periods. The ceremonies today mark the completion of the first period – the period of construction. We are now entering on our second and last period, that of instruction, which will terminate with our departure to France.

Kentucky’s Governor, A. O. Stanley spoke next and patriotic enthusiasm he said:

“Although we have raised this flag but a little more than 100 feet here, it is floating high enough to be seen around the world. I have fancied that its folds inspire not alone the gallant thousands who have salutes it, but that also, with tear-rimmed eyes and with maimed and broken bodies, dauntless heroes of France, shattered legions in the Alps, and all the world gazing upon the flag today with the hope that is this nations strength is destined to make the world safe for democracy.”

On Friday, November 3, 2017, we will honor these men who put their life on the line fighting for this country. The tree planting and Centennial Celebration will begin at 10:00 am. 100 years to the day and time of the first ceremony. Please join us at Camp Taylor Park on November 3rd, 2017.

The First Soldiers Arrive at Camp Zachary Taylor 100 years ago Today, September 8, 1917

Camp Zachary Taylor was nearing completion in early September 1917. The huge construction project had begun only 10 weeks earlier, and was nearly ready to start receiving men. On September 8, 1917, the first wave of enlisted men arrived to join the US Army.Lester Monk Picture

The first man to arrive at Camp Zachary Taylor, was Lester Monk from Illinois. Soon men from Kentucky and Indiana.

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Indiana Enlistments

Over the next several weeks, men from the region flooded into Camp Zachary Taylor to report for duty.

Select Men

The new recruits exchanged their civilian clothes for army uniforms, and training began almost immediately. By the end of the month, 40,000 men were stationed at Camp Taylor, which was the birthplace of the 84th Division. They would be known as the “Lincoln Division” or “Rail Splitters”, in honor of the area’s most notable son, Abraham Lincoln. The camp was not completely finished, but could be occupied.

The final finishing touches were completed on November 23, 1917, and officially turned over the US Army on December 1, 1917.

copyright 2017, Camp Zachary Taylor Historical Society

Kentucky World War 1 Centennial Commission’s – Kentucky State Fair Exhibit 2017

On Thursday, August 17, 2017, The Kentucky World War 1 Centennial Commission, the Kentucky Department of Veteran Affairs, the Camp Zachary Taylor Historical Society, along with many other groups and volunteers will be opening an Exhibit to Honor Kentucky Veterans. The Exhibit will be focusing on Kentucky’s participation in World War 1, and will have displays showing how the soldiers lived and participated in The Great War.


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Replica World War 1 Barracks

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World War 1 replica Trench

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View of sandbag side of WW1 Trench

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Replica WW1 Barracks in the KSF 2017 Exhibit

The exhibit will run for the entire fair, which ends on August 27, 2017, and is free with admission to the Fair. Our location is in Section B of the South Wing. Hope to see you there.




Camp Taylor’s Motor School Garage To Be Demolished by the City of Louisville

Motor School Fenced1

Camp Zachary Taylor’s “Motor School Garage” built November 1918.

It was announced today by the City of Louisville, that they have decided to demolish the last remaining large building that was part of Camp Zachary Taylor, the Motor School Garage. This large building that now stands in Joe Creason Park, was built in 1918 and has withstood nearly 100 years of use. But due to the city’s standard practice of neglect for structures under their control, this building has not been maintained, and now is in danger of collapse.

Over the last four to five years, several historians, including myself, have had conversations with those at Metro Parks, and were given assurances that this building would be preserved due to it’s Historical Significance. Those promises have been broken.

Mayor Fischer proclamation_300

Mayor Fischer;s Centennial Proclamation 4-6-2017

It was only three months ago that Mayor Fischer issued this Proclamation, “Our City did Its Part Through Camp Taylor, a Historic and Sacred Site Where 150,00 Americans were Trained. Our City Honors the Memories of all Americans Who Served and Sacrificed During World War 1”.

The City of Louisville is now Honoring those same individuals by demolishing the last remaining structure that has ties to that event. This “Historic and Sacred Site” has apparently lost the luster it had three months ago, and is now a liability to the city.

One Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty Five (1765) Kentuckians died in the World War. Below is a picture of twenty of those brave Kentucky soldiers who fought and died during those two years. Please remember them, as well as the other 1745 that are not shown.

EPSON scanner image

Kentucky Casualties of the Great War.

It is also a disgrace that they should decide to demolish this Historic Structure, the Very Year of the Centennial that is commemorating this building’s existence. I urge everyone who wants to see this structure saved, to write to Metro Councilman Pat Mulvihill (  and Mayor Greg Fischer Contact Mayor Fischer

Please tell them, and any other member of the Metro Council what you think about this decision.

I will be updating this as more information becomes available..

100 Years Ago Today

On July 4th, 1917, Camp Zachary Taylor was being built in a rush. The work that had begun just two weeks earlier, had produced dozens of building by this time. The farms that were taken over to build the camp, were cultivated Camp Zachary Taylorwith crops were already in the ground. The eight building in the photo (right) were started on June 25th, 1917. They show the progression of construction, as some buildings are nearing completion, and some are being framed. This photo was taken July 3, 1917.

Camp Zachary Taylor

Some of the workers were put up in hotels in town, but a small tent camp was erected on site for those workers who elected to stay closer to the construction ( see picture left). Demand for workers was very high, and shortages were common across the US where many other camps were being built. Men were brought in from around Kentucky and other nearby states to fill the demand. By early August, as many as 10,000 men would be employed on this single construction project .

The enormous amount of material that was brought in to build this one camp alone was unprecedented. A short list of the material is:

  • 45 million board feet of lumber
  • 28 thousand square feet of roofing
  • 20 train car loads of nails and hardware
  • 20 train car loads of windows and doors
  • 20 train car loads of plumbing fixtures and pipe
  • 192 train car loads of boiler tanks, heaters and stoves
  • 114 train car loads of electrical equipment
  • 10 train car loads of light poles
  • 175 train car loads of sand
  • 7 miles of railroad track and ties

Once this material was delivered to the site by train car, it had to taken to all points of the camp, some as far as three miles away. This was mostly done by use of mule cart. (see photo above). At the peak of construction, 299 teams of mules were in use, but only 79 trucks, which most likely arrived on the site after construction was well underway.

copyright 2017, Camp Zachary Taylor Historical Society

June 11, 1917, 100 Years Ago Today, Louisville Ky Was Selected as Location for Cantonment

On June 11, 1917, it was announced that Louisville KY was selected as one of the sixteen cities in America, where the US Army would build a new Army Training Cantonment. The City of Louisville had been competing with six other cities in the region for the Mid-West camp. It was the single largest construction project the City of Louisville had ever seen, and forever changed the city’s landscape and history.

pg 27

The project increased the population of Louisville by 25% in just three months, and poured millions of dollars into the local economy, which lasted for three years. The battle to win the project began a month and a half earlier when the bidding war began.

The other competing locations were: Evansville IN., Fort Wayne IN, Indianapolis IN., Jeffersonville IN., Bowling Green KY. and Lexington KY.

Louisville was selected over the other sites for several reasons.

1.) Nearly 4000 acres of undeveloped land was available within a six mile radius of the City.

2.) It was more centrally located (geographically).

3.) It had a better railway system with access to all north to south and east to west lines.

4.) It had a never diminishing water supply.

5.) It was the only City that offered a 5 cent street car line.

6.) It was only one of three cities that had a sanitary sewer system.

7.) It was only one of three cities that would have a rifle range available.

8.) It was the only city that could offer all of the prime requisites.

9.) No other city could provide an equal or better offer.

10.) The City of Louisville guaranteed to give the camp “an Atmosphere of Patriotism, Efficiency and Morality”.

In closing, the selection committee made this statement. ” It’s selection will be best the US Army. the Nation and Best For The Boys.”

This decision put into motion the largest construction project in Louisville’s history. The camp would house an entire Division of men numbering 47,000 men, with an initial cost of $7.2 million (approx 200 million in today’s currency) and continuing for the next three years, the Army would spend another $2 million on additional construction projects at the camp

Material was purchased and delivered to the site the following week by rail car and the first building was started on June 21st. 1917, exactly 10 days after the decision was made to build the camp in Louisville.

Construction continued at a blinding pace. 1787 buildings were built between June 21st and August 28th when the project was considered to be substantially complete (69 calendar days). This also includes 16.3 miles of new roads, 30.8 miles of new sewer lines, 38.7 miles of new water lines, all new electric and telegraph lines, extension of the street car line into the camp, and 6.75 miles of railroad track and spurs.

Work Begun 6-23-17

The construction crew numbered in the thousands, with the maximum employed on August 19th, 1917 at 10,000 workers. The largest trade employed were the carpenters at 4280 men. Next were the Laborers at 3490 employed then electricians and plumbers at 942. The balance were miscellaneous trades such as truck drivers and water boys. The highest paid was the Carpentry Foremen at 75 cents per hour, down to the lowest, which were Messenger’s and Water Boys, at 15 cents per hour.


pg 26The first troops arrived on September 8th, 1917, and occupied the buildings while the outbuildings were being completed. The construction of the camp was completed on November 23, 1917, and officially turned over to the US Army on December 1, 1917.

pg 8

The camp stayed open for three years until the US Army announced on July 20, 1920, that Camp Zachary Taylor would be closed, which was almost three years to the day when the first building was begun. The camp officially closed for good September 1, 1920. All of the land was sold off at auction the next year, along with a few of the buildings. Some of the original land owners bought back the land they sold to the army just three years earlier for a fraction of what they were paid for it. Of the 7 million dollars spent to build the camp. the army only recouped a little over 1 million at auction.


Copyright 2017, Camp Zachary Taylor Historical Society, Louisville KY.