Camp Desert Rock

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Camp Desert Rock (1951-1964) - A U.S. Army Camp established in 1951 during the Cold War by the 231st Engineer Combat Battalion from Fort Lewis, Washington. The post supported the Nevada Nuclear Test Site in Nye County, Nevada. Deactivated in 1964.

15-Kiloton Weapon Test Fired from a 280mm M65 Cannon 25 May 1953
280mm Atomic Cannon on Prime Mover
Camp Desert Rock

Camp Desert Rock History

280mm M65 Atomic Cannon on Prime Mover at APG

The U.S. Army obtained a use permit for 23,058 acres for Camp Desert Rock in support of the nuclear test site from the Department of the Interior on 5 Sep 1951. Construction was started on the 14 Sep 1951 and the Camp was habitable by 18 Sep 1951. The first nuclear test of Operation Buster took place 22 Oct 1951.

The post was eventually built out to support up to 6,000+ troops during testing and some 1,500+ troops between testing. The Camp had about 100 temporary buildings and more than 500 tents.

The Camp was operated during the 1950s as the garrison for multi-service contingents participating in nuclear testing programs. The testing simulated the atomic battlefield with military personnel, equipment and weapons. Systems tested included the 280mm Atomic Cannon and air-to-air Atomic missiles. The troops were moved into trenches some distance from the detonation points and went through the blasts in protected positions. The participants were decontaminated prior to returning to Camp Desert Rock.

The airstrip adjacent to Camp Desert Rock was built in 1963 to accommodate President John F. Kennedy's visit to observe the nuclear rocket development station. The airstrip remains active.

Above ground nuclear testing was suspended in 1963 with the Partial Test Ban Treaty. The Camp was deactivated as a sub-post on 18 Jun 1964 and the land was transferred back to the Department of Interior who transferred it to the Department of Energy. Underground testing continued through the 1990s.

Current Status

The site now belongs to Bureau of Land Management and most of the camp buildings were removed, some of the foundations remain. The site can be seen from Hwy 95 next to the airstrip.

Location: Camp Desert Rock, Nye County, Nevada.

Maps & Images

Lat: 36.6252104 Long: -116.0252164




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