Hysterical Journey to Historic Places


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North America » United States » California » Auburn
October 28th 2019
Published: October 28th 2019
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CAMP FLINT POW BARRACKSCAMP FLINT POW BARRACKSCAMP FLINT POW BARRACKS

Me and my dad used to fly kites out over the American River Canyon from this old rock wall. He thought those old foundations were part of the POW barracks, but the POWs lived at the fairgrounds. These ruins might have been the mess hall that burned down. They are near what became the city maintenance yard. Me and my cousin, Richard Forsberg, once flew a kite from here that we had taped a matchbox full of earwigs too. The kite was hooked up to a fishing pole so that we could reel it back in easy. When we had completed the mission and recovered the kite the earwigs had all bailed out.
CAMP FLINT

As a child growing up in Auburn, California our family lived on a hillside below Skyridge. The adjacent hillside was Camp Flint Hill. Camp Flint started out during the Great Depression over on what has since become the fairground. It was originally home to a few impoverished workers employed around town in jobs for the Works Progress Administration as part of the National Recovery Act. When WWII fetched loose a few soldiers from the 32nd Division were posted at Camp Flint and charged with the responsibility of protecting the Southern Pacific mainline from mischief by the Japs. As the war dragged itself merrily along those soldiers were given more pressing duties elsewhere and replaced by an outfit of Military Police who guarded the railroad bridges, tunnels, snow sheds and kept the lines of communication open for the railroad. As the war drew to a close the MPs were given charge of a few hundred German and Italian prisoners of war. The POWs were not long a part of our community, but while they were here they were used as step-and-fetch-it boys at the DeWitt Military Hospital. After the war Camp Flint was abandoned to the dust and coyotes and the property fell into the hands of the City of Auburn. The city used some of the old buildings to house their maintenance yard, an animal shelter, and an old Quonset hut became home to the local Navy Reserve. Two other Quonset huts were moved to E. V. Cain School and used to house the shop facilities and special education.

At some point a radio shack was built at the very top of Camp Flint Hill. No doubt it served some important double redundant wartime communications need that is now long forgotten. After the Korean War, when the whole country was gobbled up with the Red Scare inspired by Senator Eugene McCarthy of Wisconsin, the radio shack became part of the Ground Observer Corps. The ground observers were volunteers that manned the high ground and kept a vigilant watch on the skies. They were given a silhouette book of all the known aircraft and instructed to notify McClellan Airbase by radio of any foreign aircraft they had seen. They were to report the type of aircraft they had seen, how many of them there were, and which direction they were going. It was a total waste of time. No foreign planes were ever seen, but it satisfied the red scare hysteria for a few years and was a comfort to McCarthy. Many prominent citizens were accused of being Communist rats, and some were blackballed from their professions. All of us school kids were forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every day in school. It was not a requirement imposed on any adults, except for the teachers, and it did not contribute to our education in any way. Nor did it make any of us kids better Americans. Waving the flag and saying the Pledge are all well and good but it does not make a person a better American any more than praying makes a person a better Christian. Nowadays we seem to have come full circle with respect to the Russian Commie Rats. The Conservatives among us now embrace Russia for meddling in our elections and influencing foreign policy for us.

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