CAMP ZACHARY TAYLOR
World War 1 Training Camp for the 84th division 1917-1920
Field Artillery Central Officers Training School (F.A.C.O.T.S.) 1918-1920
HEADQUARTERS AND HEADQUARTERS COMPANY
1st BRIGADE, 25th INFANTRY DIVISION 1917-1919
U.S Army Chaplin School 1918-1919
1,563 Buildings – Housing 45,424 Personnel
Constructed in 1917 in Louisville, Kentucky in 90 Days
Where over 150,000 men were trained during World War I
Camp Zachary Taylor consisted of One Main Camp and Three Satellite Camps. The three other sites were: The Remount Station, located at Eastern Parkway and Crittenden Drive, The Maneuver Field, which was on the west side of Preston Highway, and the Rifle Range, which was located approximately six and one half miles south of the Main Camp.
In addition to the four reservations was the artillery range. It served as the firing range for the 325th, 326th and 327th Field Artillery Regiments. It composed of approximately 16,000 acres, and was located near West Point, Kentucky. The West Point Range soon became obsolete, and a new Camp was built near Stithton, Ky, and it was soon named “Camp Knox”. Camp Knox was renamed in 1932 to it’s current name of “Fort Knox”.
On June 11, 1917, Louisville Kentucky had been selected by the U. S. War Department as the site for a huge military camp. Camp Zachary Taylor was born shortly after, six miles south of town, on rolling farm land covered with cornstalks, cow pastures, barns and vegetable gardens. It’s hard to picture today how the news of getting a major camp was greeted in Louisville 1917. It was a major boom for Louisville and everyone benefited from the project, according to newspaper articles in the days after the announcement.
Business people and others saw the announcement for what it was worth — thousands of dollars in revenue for a city of 235,000. As time has shown, Camp ZacharyTaylor forever altered the landscape of the area mostly between what is now Poplar Level Road and Preston Highway, and Eastern Parkway to Durrett Lane. Hastily constructed, it became the nation’s largest military training camp in area. After World War I, much of the camp was dismantled. Many of the homes in the area were built with wood from the barracks, stables and other buildings. The modest, mostly wood-frame, one-story homes set the tone for the neighborhood. Today, Camp Zachary Taylor is filled with clapboard homes, brick bungalows and a few indiscernible former latrines that were converted into homes.
There were 10,000 workers employed at the peak of the construction, which was August 19, 1917. Because there weren’t enough local tradesmen, workers were shipped in by train from places such as Chattanooga, Tenn. and Indianapolis, Ind. Short of housing, Uncle Sam paid to put up the men at the old Galt House at First and Main streets. Some men were put up in tents on the job site, which provided temporary quarters until the first barracks were completed. By late August, a complex big enough to house one-fifth of Louisville’s population — 47,500 men at one time — had risen, stretching from the present-day grounds of Joe Creason Park and the Louisville Zoo southwest to Durrett Lane at Preston Highway. Some 49.2 million board feet of lumber went into building the camp. Total cost: $7.2 million dollars.
The Headquarter’s Buildings were located at Taylor Avenue and Poplar Level Road. They were diagonal from the present grounds of Camp Taylor Memorial Park at Taylor Avenue and Redwood Drive. A popular boardwalk and amusement area on both sides of Preston Highway near Springdale Avenue, attracted soldiers, and young women hoping to meet them.
In downtown Louisville, “The Soldiers Club” was also a popular place for men to take leave. It was located at 619 south 4th Street. This building was first known as the “Kentucky Electric Building”, and was restored and renovated in 1999 by the Public Radio Partnership for it’s new offices, and now known as the “HSA Broadband Building”.
A hospital complex sprang up on a 53 acre site along Durrett Lane, just east of Preston Street Road. This area is now residential and some commercial sites.