Village of Deming - Camp Cody
By: A.J.(Jack) Noyes
The construction phase of Camp Cody was, of course, a crash program. We were in a war, and men were being drafted, and must be changed from civilian life to fighting men who would be pitted against European armies that were, in the most part, professional soldiers.Since the plans for such cantonment were meager and vague and no one knew the scope or magnitude of the undertaking, it was a cost-plus arrangement.
I am sure that the engineers had little or no experience with such an undertaking. Carpenters, plumbers, truck drivers, teamsters, as well as laborers, came from the whole southwest. Some labor was imported, requiring the use of interpreters. The men picked up the language quickly, but found that by feigning not to understand, the work was easier, unless the foreman used language that was strong enough. Company streets were laid out, graded and graveled. The troops were housed in the familiar squad tents with a large kitchen and mess tent, one for each company. Fires were frequent; and while there was a good fire-fighting group at the camp, the town boys also went to all calls that came in.
Stationed at Camp Cody was an entire division, 42,000 men, comprising infantry, cavalry, artillery (both light and heavy, all horse drawn of course), supply, engineers and a remount station. Later a hospital staff. The hospital was frame construction, and was the most permanent of the installations.The construction crews comprised a group probably as large as the population of the town. Then add the soldiers, and the supply of food, forage, and entertainment became a major program.The water supply was furnished by "United Land and Water Company" to the camp tanks and distributed by the camp officials.
Wholesale establishments for all kinds of supplies and materials sprang up like mushrooms. Crombie of El Paso had a warehouse for fresh fruits and vegetables. "Murray & Layne" had a large wholesale grocery warehouse with some refrigeration. Then the local merchants became wholesalers as well as retailers. Some of these are still in business. "J.A. Mahoney, Inc." for one.
The city government was swamped by such an influx of people. A population explosion many times greater than the one we are experiencing nationally at present. That they handled the situation so well only brings out the fact that, under such circumstances, they, then as well as now, can rise to any occasion and carry the problems with tack and understanding to a satisfactory conclusion.
Entertainment was a major problem, and although a small percentage of troops could be away from camp, that was a lot of men needing to have some relaxation. So we had movie theatres as well as stage attractions. One kept a company here all the time. Others used pictures, boxing matches, and musical, as well as theatrical troops, when they were available.
Probably compiled by A. J. (Jack) Noyes. He worked for United Land and Water.
Later he was Deming's Water and Gas Superintendent. - May 15, 1986
Interesting Statistics about Camp Cody
1) Camp Cody cost American taxpayers $2,025,00 in 1917.
2) 10,000 loaves of bread were baked for the soldiers each day.
3) 30,000 men were stationed there for about a year and a half.
4) Camp had three main streets and 18 cross streets.
5) 120 mess houses to feed the men.
6) 1,200 or more showers bath houses.
7) Eleven enormous ware houses to store food, clothing and other necessities.
8) Five YMCA buildings and at least one YWCA building.
9) Sports arena with a seating capacity for 4,000 men with a 68-by-80-foot stage.
10) 6,000 tents - each was floored, framed and equipped for electricity.
11) A large remount station located at the northwest corner of the camp.
12) Camp Newspaper - "The Trench & Camp" was published from October 8, 1917 until December 5, 1918.
13) Large target range near Black Mountain, just northwest of Camp Cody.
14) Each Regiment had buildings for headquarters and a regimental exchange.
15) Each Brigade was provided with an office building.
Courtesy of El Paso Library in Texas
New York Prepared For Influenza Siege
Camp Dix, Wrightown New Jersey - September 18 - In spite of previous reports to the contrary, there were only 150 cases of influenza in the base hospital at Camp Dix today. The balance of the cases, including most of the 200 that were reported yesterday, are being treated in the regimental infirmaries. Of the cases in the base hospital thirty-five have developed pneumonia. Of five deaths from pneumonia at Camp Dix yesterday three were traceable to influenza. The organizations that have been hit hardest are those made up of hardy Westerners of the 34th Division from Camp Cody.