The Firing Range

As I started working on a new historical novel set in 1956 in La Jolla, CA, it brought up memories of hearing rifle volleys in the distance when I was a kid. The crackling volleys were a regular feature of life in La Jolla before and after WWII, and well up into the 1950s. I knew there had been some sort of military target range nearby. A bit of research revealed that it was Camp Calvin B. Matthews, which was first established in 1917. In 1964 the land was transferred to the Regents of the University of California to establish the campus of UCSD, which welcomed its first undergraduate class that year. You can still find a bit of the camp’s history preserved at the university. A marker was dedicated during the official transfer ceremony on October 6, 1964

Over a million recruits were trained at Camp Matthews over the years. During WWII, as many as 9,000 troops went through training every three weeks.

public domain NPS

You can find the marker and the small park that surrounds it by entering the UCSD campus on Gilman Drive and then going north on Myers Drive for two blocks (map).

The Matthews Quad nearby is also named in tribute to the original camp and two structures from the original buildings still stand on the UCSD campus. One is the Che Cafe, the student-run vegan food service and alternative performance space.

The other is a small guardhouse that served as the northern entrance to the facility, which now sits at the corner of a parking lot just east of the intersection of Campus Point Drive and Voigt Drive off Genessee.

Camp Matthews Sentry Box, photo by John Stanton

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