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Camp Logan National Guard Rifle Range Historic District, Continued

At Illinois Beach State Park, Lake County, Illinois

As the amenities at the camp improved, so did its popularity as a meeting place for annual shooting competitions, both military and civilian. From an early date, Regular Army marksmen from nearby Fort Sheridan preferred the rifle range at Camp Logan to their own facilities. Beginning around 1890, guardsmen from Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin joined the Illinois National Guard at Camp Logan to compete for the Washburn Trophy, a traveling trophy that would ultimately reside with the state that won three years running. Illinois won in 1891, 1892, and 1903. This trophy is housed at the Illinois State Military Museum at Camp Lincoln.

Use of the camp by the Illinois National Guard was heavy from 1902 on. It was the preferred training location because live fire could be launched from its artillery pieces and Gatling guns into Lake Michigan; whereas at Camp Lincoln, training was basically restricted to dry firing these weapons. After 1910, attendance during the shooting season, which ran from May 1 to Nov. 1, averaged 16,000 soldiers. During World War I, the nearby Great Lakes Naval Training Station took over Camp Logan to train its overflow of recruits. Several new buildings were constructed at this time.

By 1927, Camp Logan boasted 56 targets, making it the largest rifle range in the state. The Bliss Trophy Rifle Match was held annually at the base during the 1930s, and involved teams from the American Legion, Fort Sheridan, the Great Lakes Naval Training Station, the Officers Reserve Corps, and the Illinois National Guard. From the 1930s into the 1970s, Camp Logan was also used as a weapons training center by the FBI, who set up a separate course for pistol practice at distances of 7 to 70 yards.

Major improvements were made to the facility landscape by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) from 1934 to 1937. The modern road through the camp is built over the WPA road grade and bed and represents just a portion of the original roadway. Other existing WPA constructions include a concrete sidewalk, retaining wall, ditch tiling, cyclone fence, and concrete bridge.

After World War I, National Guard divisions were assigned permanent instructors from the Regular Army. Between 1933 and 1937 Col. George C. Marshall, who would become Secretary of State in 1947 and thereafter devise the Marshall Plan for the economic recovery of Western Europe, was assigned as the senior instructor to Camp Logan. During his tenure he assisted the Illinois National Guard in organizing and conducting the Camp Logan School of Arms for officers in the 33rd Infantry Division. The purpose of this school, which was the only such endeavor in the entire National Guard of the United States, was to teach officers how to train their soldiers in the use of weapons, regularizing methods and emulating instructions taught at the Regular Army’s Infantry School. Instructors were both Regular Army and National Guard personnel. In subsequent years, instruction would be carried out by guard officers who had attended the previous year’s course, creating one of the Guard’s first service schools. The school at Camp Logan was conducted annually until 1940.

During World War II, the Great Lakes Naval Training Station utilized the range at Camp Logan for daytime training of its recruits. Around this time, the base was also occupied by the Illinois Reserve Militia, an organization created to fulfill the Guard’s state emergency mission of disaster relief and maintenance of order whenever the Illinois National Guard was federally activated.

After World War II, training became more restrictive at Camp Logan, due to the development of more powerful weapons and the increasing civilian population around the base. However, the guardsmen were now required to qualify with their rifles once every three years, with the other two years being used for rifle training. The Chicago units were typically deployed to Camp Logan twice a year for rifle and pistol training or qualification. One type of specialty training that developed during this time was sniper and counter-sniper training. Physical improvements continued to be added to the camp after the war, including a sewage plant for the camp and a mess hall. By 1964, the camp had 36 buildings. Camp Logan was closed in the early 1970s.

Two of the ten pre-1970s buildings that exist at Camp Logan today, the caretaker cottage and pumphouse, date from the 1890s. The majority of standing buildings (two garages, headquarters, one tool and two storeroom buildings, one barracks) and the old flagpole are from the 1910s, and only one building (a mess hall) remains from the 1940s-1950s construction period.

The 1890s-1950s buildings and landscape structures form the basis for the 243-acre Camp Logan National Guard Rifle Range Historic District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) June 9, 2000. The National Register of Historic Places is the Nation’s official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, or culture and therefore worthy of preservation. National Register properties are distinguished by having been documented and evaluated according to uniform standards designed to help state and local governments, Federal agencies, and others identify properties worthy of preservation and of consideration in planning and development decisions. Camp Logan was placed on the NRHP because of its status as the best remaining example of a pre-World War II National Guard training facility in Illinois and because of its role in the evolution of the Illinois National Guard. Nomination of the property to the Register was sponsored by the IDNR and compiled and presented by Heritage Research Inc., Menomonee Falls, WI. The text and photographs presented here are taken from the nomination report.

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Main Gate at Camp Logan