Camp Upton at Yaphank, NY

Long Island Past and Present

camp upton

During the hectic months after America’s entry into World War I in the spring of 1917, the government started construction of an Army installation in Suffolk country near Yaphank on a tract now housing the Brookhaven National Laboratory. There, on more than 10,000 acres of flat, swampy, mosquito-laden land, as many as 15,000 skilled workers and laborers struggled through the hot, wet summer to build barracks for 37,000 soldiers, mostly draftees.

Camp Upton was named after a Civil War Union general named Emory Upton. It was a marvel of logistics and supervision since almost all the workmen had to be fed and housed on the isolated site. Special railroad sidings were laid to facilitate the shipment of lumber and other materials, and a large number of private detectives had to be hired to cope with the influx of crooks who swarmed over the camp. Criminality was so rampant that a…

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