Camp Callan

In my first Rolly Waters mystery, Black’s Beach Shuffle, much of the action takes place in the Torrey Pines Mesa/Black’s Beach area. If you’ve visited Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, you may have come across this memorial for Camp Callan, which served as an anti-aircraft artillery replacement training center from January, 1941 to November, 1945. I’ve posted earlier about the vestiges of World War II history you can still find in the area around La Jolla, including the Guns of Bird Rock and Camp Matthews, but the area on the mesa and the beach was also an important part of the war effort.

The Army leased 750 acres of Torrey Pines Mesa from the City of San Diego which extended from the southernmost boundaries of Torrey Pines Park towards what became Muir Campus at UCSD. In return for an occupational permit to use the lower portion of the park, the military had to guarantee that no part of the park would be damaged and the park itself was kept open to the public. The area covered by the camp included what is now the southern edge of the current park as well as the Torrey Pines Golf Course, Muir Campus at UCSD, the Scripps Green Hospital and the Salk Institute and residential areas.

In June 1944 the training emphasis was changed and the camp began to prepare recruits for overseas amphibious assaults. On November 1, 1945, three months after the end of the war with Japan, Camp Callan was declared surplus. The San Diego City Council negotiated with the War Department to acquire all the buildings, which were then torn down and re-used for lumber to build homes for veterans. Many San Diego houses still standing today have frames built from the wood of structures at Camp Callum.

Recruits assault the cliffs above Black’s Beach. Photo from San Diego History Center
Recruits practice abandoning ship from the Scripps Pier. Photo from San Diego History Center
Nurses took part in the abandoning ship drills as well. Photo from San Diego History Center