Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Fort Ord

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Army Post

Year built

In use
1917 - 1994

+1 831-582-2200

Fort Ord

Fort Ord National Monument

Reservation Rd, Monterey County, CA 93933, USA

The epic unusual story of fort ord california

Fort Ord is a former United States Army post on Monterey Bay of the Pacific Ocean coast in California, which closed in 1994. Most of the fort's land now makes up the Fort Ord National Monument, managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management as part of the National Landscape Conservation System. Before construction and official designation as a fort in 1940, the land was used as a maneuver area and field-artillery target range during 1917. Fort Ord was considered one of the most attractive locations of any U.S. Army post, because of its proximity to the beach and California weather. The 7th Infantry Division was its main garrison for many years. When Fort Ord was converted to civilian use, space was set aside for the first nature reserve in the United States created for conservation of an insect, the endangered Smith's blue butterfly. Additional endangered species are found on Fort Ord including Contra Costa goldfields and the threatened California Tiger Salamander.


While much of the old military buildings and infrastructure remain abandoned, many structures have been torn down for anticipated development. California State University at Monterey Bay and the Fort Ord Dunes State Park, along with some subdivisions, the Veterans Transition Center, a commercial strip mall, military facilities and a nature preserve occupy the area today.

On April 20, 2012, President Barack Obama signed a proclamation designating a 14,651-acre (5,929 ha) portion of the former post as the Fort Ord National Monument. In his proclamation, the President stated that, "The protection of the Fort Ord area will maintain its historical and cultural significance, attract tourists and recreationalists from near and far, and enhance its unique natural resources, for the enjoyment of all Americans."

Fort ord abandoned


In 1917, with the entrance of the nation into World War I with the declaration of war address to the United States Congress by the 28th President Woodrow Wilson against the Central Powers of the German Empire, Austria-Hungary and later the Ottoman Empire in April 1917. Land was later purchased just north of the city of Monterey along the western shoreline of the Pacific Ocean by Monterey Bay for use as an artillery training field for the United States Army by the U.S. Department of War. The area was known as the Gigling Reservation, U.S. Field Artillery Area, Presidio of Monterey and Gigling Field Artillery Range. Although military development and construction was just beginning, the War only lasted for another year and a half until the Armistice in November 11, 1918.

Despite a great demobilization of the U.S. Armed Forces during the inter-war years of the 1920s and 1930s, by 1933, the artillery field became Camp Ord, named in honor of Union Army Maj. Gen. Edward Otho Cresap Ord, (1818-1883) a famous and well respected Federal military leader during the American Civil War who also served in the Second Seminole War in Florida and the western Indian Wars. Primarily, horse cavalry units trained on the camp until the military began to mechanize and train mobile combat units such as tanks, armored personnel carrier and movable artillery.

By 1940, the 23-year-old Camp Ord was expanded to 2,000 acres (8.1 km2; 3.1 sq mi), with a realization that the two-year-old conflict of World War II could soon cross the Atlantic Ocean to involve America. In August 1940, it was re-designated Fort Ord and the 7th Infantry Division was reactivated, becoming the first major unit to occupy the post.

In 1941, Camp Ord became Fort Ord. But soon the first threat came from the west as the Japanese Imperial Navy struck at U.S. naval and military bases on the islands of Hawaii at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu and in the Philippines in a sneak air attack, Sunday, December 7, 1941. In a few days the other Axis Powers of dictators Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany, along with Fascist Italy of Benito Mussolini, declared and spread their war in Europe against Great Britain and France and the low countries to the U.S.

With the end of the war with the surrenders of Germany in May and Japan in September 1945, the soon onset of a Cold War against the Soviet Union continued for the next forty some years to the early 1990s. In 1947, Fort Ord became the home of the 4th Replacement Training Center. During the 1950s and 1960s, Fort Ord was a staging area for units departing for war in the Korean War and later peace-time/occupation/ duty in Japan, South Korea and the Philippines and Thailand. Then Southeast Asia became a war zone with Vietnam, and later involving by the 1970s Cambodia, Laos, and at one time, the United States. had 50,000 troops on the installation. The 194th Armored Brigade was activated there under Combat Development Command in 1957, but departed for Fort Knox in Kentucky in 1960.

In 1957, land on the eastern side of the post was used to create the Laguna Seca Raceway which served to replace the Pebble Beach road racing course that ceased operations for safety reasons in that same year.

The post continued as a center for instruction of basic and advanced infantrymen until 1976, when the training area was deactivated and Fort Ord again became the home of the 7th Infantry Division, following their return from South Korea after twenty-five years on the DMZ ("demilitarized zone").

In 1988, the "Base Realignment and Closure" ("BRAC") legislation considering the post-Cold War era was passed by the Congress, under 41st President George H. W. Bush.

On July 14, 1989, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed placement of Fort Ord on the National Priorities List (NPL). The site contained leaking petroleum underground storage tanks, a 150 acres (61 ha) landfill that was primarily used to dispose of residential waste and small amounts of commercial waste generated by the base, a former fire drill area, motor pool maintenance areas, small dump sites, small arms target ranges, an 8,000 acres (3,200 ha) firing range, and other limited areas that posed threats from unexploded ordnance. NPL status was finalized on February 21, 1990.

The final basic training classes were held in 1990.

In 1991, the decision to close Fort Ord was made.

In 1994, Fort Ord was officially closed. The Fort was the largest U.S. military base to be closed at the time.

Closing the Fort, 1994

The BRAC Commission of 1991 recommended closing the post and moving the units stationed at Fort Ord to Fort Lewis, Washington. On May 2, 1992, Army elements from Fort Ord along with Marines from Camp Pendleton participated in quelling the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. In 1994, Fort Ord was finally closed. Most of the land was returned to the State of California for further public use and became the home of the California State University at Monterey Bay. The remainder was given to University of California at Santa Cruz to be developed into the "UC MBEST" (Monterey Bay Education, Science and Technology) Center. The MBEST Center is a regional economic development effort focused on developing collaborative research-business opportunities in the Monterey Bay region.

Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA)

The Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA) is responsible for the oversight of Monterey Bay area economic recovery from the closure of and reuse planning of the former Fort Ord military base. The former Fort Ord was/is located on the California coastline near the Monterey Peninsula consisting of 45 square miles/28,000 acres (11,000 ha). FORA implements this legislatively mandated mission by overseeing replacement land use; assuring compliance with adopted measures; removing physical barriers to reuse; financing and constructing major components of the required infrastructure and basewide demands; and protecting identified environmental reserves. FORA exercises its planning, financing, and monitoring responsibilities under state law authority to meet these objectives in the best interest of the Northern Monterey Bay Community.

FORA is small multi-governmental body, composed of elected officials at the local, state, and federal levels, as well as representatives from the United States Armed Forces and educational bodies such as California State University, Monterey Bay at the primary, secondary, and university levels. Voting members are made up of representatives from the cities of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Del Rey Oaks, Marina, Sand City, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Salinas, and Seaside as well as 2 representatives from the County of Monterey Ex officio members are composed of representatives from the Monterey Peninsula College, the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, California's 17th congressional district, California's 15th State Senate district, California's 27th State Assembly district, the United States Army, the Chancellor of the California State University, the President of the University of California, the Monterey County Water Resources Agency, and the Transportation Agency of Monterey County.

This legislatively mandated mission is directed by FORA's 1997 Fort Ord Base Reuse Plan (Reuse Plan). In 2012, FORA performed a comprehensive Reuse Plan Reassessment to assess remaining work.

The Army's Fort Ord Cleanup Project

The Army's environmental cleanup of the former Fort Ord has been underway since the base was closed and is separated into two programs: the Soil and Groundwater Contamination Cleanup Program, and the Munitions and Explosives of Concern (MEC) Program. A Federal Facility Agreement was signed by the Army, EPA, California Department of Toxic Substances Control and the California Regional Water Quality Control Board Central Coast Region in 1990. Additionally, the Army provides oversight on FORA's cleanup program - called the Environmental Services Cooperative Agreement (see below).

FORA's Privatized Cleanup Project

In May 2007, the Fort Ord Reuse Authority voluntarily entered into an Administrative Order on Consent with EPA and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) for the cleanup of 3,484 acres (1,410 ha) of Fort Ord land. The Army and EPA provide the necessary oversight on the project - referred to as FORA's Environmental Services Cooperative Agreement (ESCA). Under this privatized cleanup scheme, FORA received these properties through early transfer and is responsible for the cleanup of these specific areas of Fort Ord. The Administrative Order on Consent requires FORA to clean up the parcels to an extent that would protect human health and environment.

Present-day Fort Ord

Fort Ord's former military golf courses, Bayonet and Black Horse, are, as of January 16, 1997, public golf courses. They have hosted PGA golf events and were recently renovated.

California State University, Monterey Bay

California State University at Monterey Bay opened on the Fort's former ground shortly after Fort Ord's closing in 1994 as part of 42nd President Bill Clinton's "peace dividends" program. The University has currently enrolled more than 5,700 students. The Leon Panetta Institute (named for the former U.S. Representative ("congressman") and Defense Secretary) is located on its campus. Schoonover, Frederick and Frederick II are housing developments located in the former Fort Ord created for students and families who are associated with CSUMB, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District and local school districts. All three parks are accessible off of Abrams Drive.

Veterans Transition Center

The Veterans Transition Center (VTC) is located on the site of the former Fort Ord. Since its inception it has served 4,155 single veterans and 351 veterans with families. As of 2009 the center is looking to expand by adding more housing units and a non-profit store (to be run by partner company, Vocational Rehabilitation Specialists Inc.) with the express purpose of employing as many veterans as possible.

Fort Ord Dunes State Park and National Monument

In 2009, a coastal strip overlooking Monterey Bay became California's newest state park, Fort Ord Dunes State Park. At the end of Gigling Road, where the DOD Building is located, is one of many entrances to the Fort Ord National Monument, the land underwent comprehensive remediation that involved an extensive munitions clean-up. There are more than 83 miles (134 km) of recreational trails available. They are used by the trail communities on foot, on bicycles, and on horseback. All open trails are available to all non-motorized trail user groups. A small number of trails are fenced along their edges because of possible unexploded ordnance. On January 13, 2012, United States Secretary of Interior, Ken Salazar visited Fort Ord, addressed a crowd of 200 supporters and announced that he was proposing to President Obama that Fort Ord be elevated to National monument status. On April 20, 2012, 44th President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Proclamation establishing Fort Ord National Monument. Fort Ord National Monument refers to that land on the former Fort Ord that is administered by the Bureau of Land Management and is open to the general public.

Remaining Military Presence

A small portion of the former Fort Ord still remains under U.S. Army control – originally called the Presidio of Monterey (POM) Annex. It is now called the Ord Military Community (described below).

The military is still present at Fort Ord, in the form of several California Army National Guard units, facilities administered by the Presidio of Monterey, the Defense Manpower Data Center, and the continued operation of the base Army and Air Force Exchange Service PX and Commissary catering to the active duty military stationed in the Monterey area as well as retirees who chose to settle in the area and are entitled to shop at such facilities. Management of the military housing has been outsourced to private firms, but the homes are still occupied by personnel stationed at the Presidio of Monterey and Naval Postgraduate School and retired military members.


The nearby city of Marina is developing a large parcel of land from the former Fort Ord within its city limits, building more than 1,000 new homes. A large commercial strip mall along Highway 1 at the former 12th Street Gate entrance to Fort Ord opened in late 2007, and houses popular retail stores. The City of Marina is planning a 13-mile recreation trail to run through Fort Ord to the Fort Ord National Monument, the Salinas River, and through Fort Ord Dunes State Park.

As of December 2014, some of the land for a proposed development project (Monterey Downs) will not be officially clear of unexploded ordnance until at least late 2017.

List of Development Projects

  • City of Marina
  • University Villages/Dunes on Monterey Bay
  • Sea Haven
  • Imjin Office Park
  • City of Seaside
  • Seaside Resort
  • Main Gate Retail Center
  • Central Coast Veterans Cemetery
  • City of Del Rey Oaks
  • Del Rey Oaks Resort (currently on hold)
  • County of Monterey
  • East Garrison
  • Monterey Horse Park/Monterey Downs
  • Secrets of Fort Ord Tour

    An annual "Secrets of Fort Ord" tour is given, beginning from the campus of CSU-MB. Locations are reached by bus, and the tour takes approximately two hours. Though much of the former Fort appears abandoned, tourists learn otherwise upon seeing the buildings in full use with soldiers in training within the broken down buildings. Much of the tour takes place beyond public reach, behind closed off limit areas. Some places are only viewable from the outside, though, such as the former stockade (prison), recently used for paintball and airsoft competitions, now house a concrete works and other industry. Several other abandoned locations which may have even been knocked down as of 2007, include the Doughboy Theater, an Olympic sized swimming pool, a bowling alley, and an incinerator.

    WWII Warhorse Hospital Listing in National Register of Historic Places

    The Fort Ord Station Veterinary Hospital at the Marina Equestrian Center Park in Marina was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014, by the Friends of the Fort Ord Warhorse. This is the first such designation on Fort Ord. The history is detailed at. The Fort Ord SVH was built for the Army Veterinary Corps as an equine veterinary hospital in 1941 to serve the 1400 horses of the 76th Field Artillery Regiment (United States), cavalry, and quartermaster mule-train units. This is the only remaining example of a major World War II-construction medical facility for warhorses. Twelve of the original twenty-one World War II stables for the horses and mules were about 200 yards away, on Fourth Avenue/Gen Jim Moore Blvd, but were demolished by CSUMB in 2011. Friends of the Fort Ord Warhorse holds events at the Fort Ord Station Veterinary Hospital on the Saturday before Veterans Day and in the spring (Warhorse Day). The 5th Annual Fort Ord Warhorse Day 2015 was held May 9, 2015.

    Notable Fort Ordians

  • Some who served or lived at Ft. Ord
  • Nick Bacon, (Basic Training 1963) Medal of Honor recipient for actions in the Vietnam War.
  • Ken Osmond, actor on Leave it to Beaver
  • Michelle Boulos, nationally competitive figure skater
  • Grey DeLisle, voice actress
  • Joe DiMaggio, professional baseball player
  • Clint Eastwood, actor and director
  • Herman Edwards, NFL player and coach; his father was stationed at Ford Ord
  • Jamie Farr, actor
  • Jerry Garcia, musician and co-founder of the Grateful Dead
  • Jimi Hendrix, musician; was at Fort Ord in May 1961 for basic training
  • David Janssen, actor
  • Don Lasseter, True Crime Author & World War II Historian
  • James Lofton, professional football player, coach, and commentator, born at Fort Ord in 1956
  • Ollie Matson, NFL Hall of Fame football player, Olympic Medal winner
  • Scott Melville, professional tennis player
  • Martin Milner, actor
  • Matthew Morrison, actor and singer
  • Mickey Pugh, NASCAR, pilot
  • Leonard Nimoy, actor
  • Alan Osmond, singer, musician, performer and leader of The Osmonds
  • Steve Owens, Heisman Trophy winner, 1969
  • Wally Rank, professional basketball player
  • Ron Rivera, current head coach of the NFL's Carolina Panthers
  • John Saxon, actor
  • Jaina Lee Ortiz, actor and dancer, born in Silas B Hayes Hospital, her father was stationed at Fort Ord.
  • General Joseph Stilwell, World War II commander known as "Vinegar Joe" who won acclaim in China and Burma campaigns
  • Major General Charles H. Swannack, Jr., battalion commander who went on to command the 82nd Airborne Division
  • Brigadier General Huba Wass de Czege, one of the Army's leading strategists in the 1980s
  • General Raymond T. Odierno, former battalion commander; and now Army Chief of Staff
  • Lieutenant General Harold G. Moore, author, and former commander of Fort Ord.
  • Blake Percival, Whistleblower
  • The 1951 film The Lady Says No with David Niven was filmed at Fort Ord.
  • The 1956 film The Girl He Left Behind with Tab Hunter and Natalie Wood was filmed at Fort Ord.
  • The 1963 film Soldier in the Rain with Jackie Gleason and Steve McQueen was also filmed at Fort Ord.
  • In a TV episode of M*A*S*H from 1976, the character Major Margaret Houlihan (Loretta Swit) mentions that Fort Ord was one of the bases she grew up on while her father was stationed there.
  • The 1980 film Private Benjamin featured a photo of moored yachts at Fort Ord during a recruitment scene being used as an inducement.
  • In the 1989 Tom Clancy novel, Clear and Present Danger, soldiers from Fort Ord, including Domingo Chavez, are recruited for Operation SHOWBOAT.
  • The TV series MythBusters frequently uses the streets of an abandoned housing development in Fort Ord for testing that involves driving a car.
  • From 2004–2006, Fort Ord was the location of development for the video game America's Army.
  • Fort Ord is the location of Dave Egger's 2014 novel, Your Fathers, Where Are They?.
  • References

    Fort Ord Wikipedia