New historical marker ties railroad to Camp Perry’s history
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Chad Menegay, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs
PORT CLINTON, Ohio (09/27/19)
The Ohio National Guard and the Ohio History Connection unveiled a historic marker that ties the significance of the railroad system to Camp Perry’s past during a Sept. 27 ceremony at Camp Perry Joint Training Center.
“The railroads were the lifeline of the country both for passenger and for cargo,” said Burt Logan, executive director of the Ohio History Connection, “and that was how — throughout much of the 19th century and certainly up until World War II — so many of the Soldiers and Sailors who were leaving Ohio, passing through Ohio were transported.
Camp Perry, which currently consists of 640 acres, was the primary training center for the Ohio National Guard for much of the 20th century. The main reason why the training grounds were located at Camp Perry was to allow the Ohio National Guard to practice firing rifles and artillery cannons into Lake Erie, however rail accessibility was also a deciding factor in the site’s selection.
During World War I, the U.S. Army used the site to train officers and marksmen. During World War II, when Camp Perry was a reception center for new Army recruits and housed prisoners of war, trains continued to play an important role. As the historic marker notes, “One thousand soldiers were processed every three days until the prisoner of war camp was established in 1943. Trains brought Italian and German POWs to Camp Perry from ports in New York.”
Participants and spectators arrived by train every summer to attend the annual National Matches shooting competition. Today, Camp Perry boasts the largest outdoor rifle range in the world and continues to be the site of the Civilian Marksmanship Program-sponsored National Matches since 1907.
“It’s an important thing for us to do — to remember our past,” said Col. Daniel Shank, Ohio assistant adjutant general for Army. “For us in the military, lineage and honors, it’s very important. We take a lot of pride in that sense of history. It is a rallying cry for us to think about all those connections that we make to our past that we use to inspire our current and our future. So for us, it is very important that we come together to remember what we had at Camp Perry.”
For over 60 years, the Ohio Historical Marker program has championed the state’s history. More than 1,700 markers have been erected all over Ohio by local community sponsors in partnership with the Ohio History Connection. These unique landmarks showcase the important people, places and events in Ohio’s shared history.
The Ohio History Connection, formerly the Ohio Historical Society, is a statewide history organization with the mission to spark discovery of Ohio’s stories. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization chartered in 1885, the Ohio History Connection carries out historical services for Ohio and its citizens, focused on preserving and sharing the state’s history. This includes housing the state historic preservation office, the official state archives, local history office and managing more than 50 sites and museums across Ohio.