In 1916 Tacoma civic leaders promoted the development of a United States Army camp on the Nisqually Plain, located in Pierce County south of Tacoma. They succeeded in gaining War Department support and in January 1917 Pierce County voters overwhelming approved a bond to purchase about 70,000 acres and donate the land to the federal government for a military camp. In May 1917, Captain David L. Stone (1876-1959), Quartermaster Corps, arrived at the American Lake site to supervise camp construction. Hurley-Mason Construction of Tacoma started work on June 15. They erected 1,757 major buildings with a troop capacity of 44,685. On July 18, 1917, the camp was named in honor of Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809) of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and it opened on September 1, 1917. The Ninety-First Division, Major General Henry A. Greene (1856-1921) commanding, arrived and launched into rigorous training. The Ninety-First Division served with honor in France and as they fought, the Thirteenth Division trained at Camp Lewis, but then World War I ended and the division dissolved. Camp Lewis demobilized soldiers and then went into dramatic decline. Pierce County became concerned over lack of use and some even argued that the county should take back the land. However, the camp recovered and in 1927 a large building program made the post permanent and in recognition of that status became Fort Lewis. This is Part 1 of a two-part history of Fort Lewis, located in Pierce County, south of Tacoma.
Fort Lewis: Gray Army Airfield