Construction began for Camp Swift in 1941. Out of flat lowlands and hilly uplands, a camp came together that would house 90,000 troops at one point. In 1942, the camp opened its doors with 2,750 buildings and accommodations for only 44,000 troops. It would become a major combat infantry training camp for World War II troops. It was named after General Eben Swift. He had led troops in World War I as a commander, and later he became a recognized author of several military books.
Training activities at Camp Swift included tank maneuvers, weapons firing, personnel and cargo air drops, small arms firing, combat engineering skills, infantry skills, helicopter operations and other types of training environments for the field.
The Army helped to construct all of the buildings at Camp Swift including warehouses, training facilities, recreational facilities, artillery ranges, barracks, gas stations, storage tanks and more.
The camp reached 90,000 troops during World War II. The 95th, 97th and 102nd Infantry Divisions; 10th Mountain Division; the 5th Headquarters; and the 116th and 120th Tank Destroyer battalions were all stationed at Camp Swift during the second World War. In doing so, it became the largest transshipment and US Army training camp in Texas. Eventually it would also house over 3,500 German prisoners of war.
Like so many other military sites after World War II, Camp Swift was returned to the former owners of the land. In 1945, soldiers were shipped back home, and Camp Swift was declared a military excess site. However, the government still owned 11,700 acres to use as a military reserve. Today, this land houses parts of the Texas National Guard, University of Cancer Research Center and a federal prison. In the 1970s, Camp Swift also became the site for environmental-impact studies and new development plans to mine multiple lignite deposits that were lying beneath the camp’s foundation.
In 2007, Camp Swift became the home of the 136th Combat Arms Training Regiment and Texas National Guard Training Center of Excellence. The camp continues to be an economic and community support force for Bastrop contributing $5,000,000 each year to the local economy.
All service men and women must go through training at Camp Swift. There are multiple educational facilities as well including classrooms for advanced courses. There is a gas chamber for training, drop zone for airborne units, pistol and rifle ranges, helicopter landing sites and navigation testing zones. There are also multiple facilities on site for equipment and weapons storage.
Camp Swift received the historically significant designation on October 29th, 1996 from the Texas Historical Commission. The camp now covers only about one-fifth of the acres that it had during World War II.
*Camp Swift will be closed on all Federal Holidays