Council on America's Military Past

42nd Annual Military History Conference

Red Lion Hotel

161 West 600 South

Salt Lake City, UT 84101

May 14-18, 2008

This year's conference focused on the military history of northern Utah from the early fur trading post to modern air combat facilities.  Participants visited 19th century military sites significant in the Utah and Ute wars and turn of the century Army posts that contributed to the development of our modern Air Force.


Wednesday May 14, 2008

Book Exhibits, Conference Registration, the Director's Meeting and a Department Head Symposium filled the afternoon then the opening reception and briefing begin at 6:00pm at the hotel.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The first day of the conference began with papers that continued until 11:00am when participants boarded the buses to Hill Air Force Base for the conference opening ceremony and lunch at the Hill AFB Officer's Club.

Outdoor exhibits at Hill Air Force Base's Aerospace Museum. (Photo by Roy V. Ashley)Then we toured Hill AFB, the Air Force's Materiel Command base that carries out many operational and support missions.  The post was first established for the Army air mail experiment in 1934 then named Hill Army Air Field in 1940.  In 1947 when the U. S. Air Force was created the base ended its association with the Army and became Hill Air Force Base.  Today, with the Ogden Air Logistics Center serving as the host command, the base provides worldwide engineering and logistics management for the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the A-10 Thunderbolt II, and the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.

Inside exhibit at Fort Hill's Aerospace Museum. (Photo by Roy V. Ashley)

Then we traveled to Fort Buenaventura (1847-1860),  the site of the earliest European settlement in what is now Utah.  The fort began as a simple trading post where Miles Goodyear built a cottonwood  stockade in 1845.  The nearby settlement became Brown's Fort, then grew to Brownsville and finally Ogden, UT.

Back at the hotel, the Annual Dinner with Society of Military History began with a social hour followed by dinner at 8:00pm.  The speaker was Dr. Gene Sessions who talked about the Utah War of 1856-1861.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Again, concurrent sessions of papers were presented at the hotel then the buses departed for West Wendover, NV where we enjoyed lunch at the Montego Bay Casino.  After lunch it was back to Utah to learn about Wendover Air Force Base  the primary training site of the Utah National Guard.

Aircraft gunnery range at Wendover Air Force Base, Utah. Pilots use the target area to zero their gun sights to ensure accuracy in the air. (Photo by Roy V. Ashley)Wendover is one of the most preserved and historic military post that began in 1940 as an Air Corps bombing and gunnery range.  It was named Wendover Army Air Field in 1942. 

Eventually the base housed over 17,500 military personnel with the mission of training heavy bomber groups and included a three million acre bombing and gunnery range.  The crew that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan trained at Wendover and the Enola Gay Hanger and bomb loading pit remain.

 Replica of the 9,700 pound "Little Boy" atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima Japan on August 6, 1945.  (Photo by Roy V. Ashley)

The post was renamed Wendover Air Force Base in 1947 then inactivated two years later only to see service for a short period after the Korean War. Today the air field is a municipal airport named Decker Field and the Historic Wendover Airfield, a local preservation group, work diligently to preserve the remaining of the historic military structures.

Then we drove through Tooele Army depot and traveled to Camp Floyd near Fairfield, UT.  The post was built by the U.S. Army in 1858 to house troops sent to suppress a rumored rebellion that never materialized but was later called the Utah War.  The post was named Fort Crittenden in 1860 and in 1861 the troops were withdrawn and the fort abandoned.

Then we returned to hotel for the Yount-Windsor Book Auction.

Saturday May 17, 2008

Many of the Fort Douglas's historic buildings remain and serve the University of Utah. (Photo by Roy V. Ashley)Concurrent paper sessions at the hotel began at 8:00am then we traveled to the site of Camp Douglas, a small military post established in 1862 to protect the overland mail route and telegraph lines.  The post served as Headquarters for the District of Utah and after being renamed Fort Douglas in 1878, continued to guard the transcontinental railroad.  During World War II the post was used as an internment camp for German immigrants, housed German naval prisoners of war, and became an Army Air Field.  Later the post was used as a reserve training post then closed in 1991 when most of the buildings were turned over to the University of Utah. 

The Military Museum at Fort Douglas is administered by the Utah National Guard and supported by the Fort Douglas Foundation.  After lunch at the Fort Douglas Officer's Club conference participants were treated to the movie "Saints and Sinners" at the post theater.

After returning to the hotel, the Annual Banquet begins with a social hour followed by dinner at 8:00pm.  The after dinner speaker was Robert K. Sutton, Chief Historian, National Park Service.

Sunday, May 18, 2008 Optional Add-on Day

The Sunday trip to Fort Bridger State Historic Site in Wyoming included stops at the Utah War's Echo Canyon defensive earthworks along route.

One of the historic structures at Fort Bridger, Uthah.  (Photo by Roy V. Ashley)

After lunch we toured Fort Bridger, the site of a 19th century stockade fur trading post established by mountain man Jim Bridger in 1843.  Bridger's well stocked shelves quickly became a primary supply point for westbound immigrants on the Oregon Trail and a small town, appropriately named Fort Bridger, soon sprang up outside the fort walls.  In 1847 Mormon pioneers arrived and Jim Bridger sold his interest to the Mormons in 1853.  The fort was burned in 1857 to prevent it from being occupied by the U.S. Army sent to the area during the Utah War.  The Army occupied the site in 1858 then abandoned it in 1861 when most of the western army was sent back east during the early days of the Civil War but the post remained an active military post until the 1880s.




Council on America's Military Past-USA, Inc.

Post Office Box 4209

Charlottesville, VA 22905