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Camp Butner National Guard Training Center

Camp Butner is in Granville and Durham Counties, North Carolina. The nearest urban area is Durham, which is 15 miles away. The land is owned by the State. Camp Butner is entirely within the Southern Piedmont Major Land Resource Area. The North Carolina National Guard uses 4,750 acres of the area for training.

National Guardsmen from eight states fired their 9mm pistols at the Camp Butner, N.C., Training Site, Saturday, June 23, 2001, during the MAC III Area Combat Regional Marksmanship competition hosted by the North Carolina Army National Guard. About 125 Air and Army National Guard members took part in the two day event. On June 22-23 2002, the camp hosted the MAC III Area Matches and the North State Shooting Club (a civilian club) hosted State Championships and Regionals for both Rifle and Pistol at Camp Butner.

Camp Butner operates the following ranges:
Range 1: Composite Pistol Range - with 50 firing points and automated computer controled 25yd line.
Range 2: Record fire Pistol Range - 10 lane, computer controled and scored.
Range 3: Zero/NBC/Night fire Range - 25 point, (automated computer controled for night fire).
Range 4: 1000Yd Known Distance Range - 50 firing points with motorized pits.
Range 7: Zero range - 32 firing points
Range 8: Record fire Rifle Range - 16 point automated computer controled and scored.

Camp Butner was acquired for use by the Fourth Services Command, Army Ground Forces as a Triangular Division Camp. In part, Camp Butner was utilized as a training and maneuvering area for combat troops. Portions of the property were subject to contamination by shells, rockets, mines and other charges. Improvements to the site included a convalescent hospital, housing for approximately 35,000 men, munitions storage, storehouses, magazine area, rocket range, gasoline stations, stable, and recreational facilities. Camp Butner remained active until 1946.

Acquisition and construction authorization for this installation was issued in 1942. A total of 40,384.39 acres (fee, lease, easement, and licenses) was acquired by the War Department for the site of the Fourth Services Command, Army Ground Forces, Triangular Division Camp. In part, Camp Butner was utilized as a training and maneuvering area for combat troops.

The military installation was to be located in the north central part of North Carolina in the counties of Granville, Person, and Durham. The camp was essentially established for the training of infantry divisions and miscellaneous artillery and engineer units within the Fourth Services Command, Army Ground Forces. On February 21, 1942, the War Department announced that the camp had been named Camp Butner in honor of the late Major General Henry Wolfe Butner, native of Surry County, who died in 1937 after a distinquised military career.

The camp was host to one of the Army's largest general and convalescent hospitals. Camp Butner operated a prisoner of war (POW) camp. The Army established its Eastern Personnel Reassignment Center at Camp Butner. The Center was set up for disposition of personnel not currently assigned to units within the Army. It assured rapid and efficient employment of skills where needed by the War Department. The camp, later, was designated as an Army Ground and Service Forces Redistribution Station to handle reassignment of overseas returnees. This huge redistribution center could place approximately 8,000 troops per month.

At the end of the war, Camp Butner was closed and abandoned by the Army. A small staff of firefighters and military police remained on the post to protect the property. Camp Butner was declared excess, and accountability for the 40,384.39 acres was assumed by the War Assets Administration on 26 April 1947. In March 1948, the Department of the Army withdrew 4,866.49 acres of land from the area declared surplus and assumed accountability for that acreage. This acreage was computed incorrectly and subsequently changed to 4,856.39.

In 1947, Mr. John Umstead, brother of Governor William B. Umstead, started a move in the North Carolina Legislature for better care of the mentally ill. Camp Butner was purchased by the State of North Carolina from the federal government for one dollar. The state took over the camp and assumed the police and fire services on November 3, 1947. John Umstead Hospital was created out of the abandoned army hospital. The Butner Training School for the mentally retarded open on June 9, 1948 . It was known as "The Colony" and was located on 9th and 10th streets between C and D streets in twelve rows of old army barracks. In 1953, the voters of North Carolina approved a $22,000,000 Bond Issue for Mental Health Projects, part of which was designated to build a new Butner Training School to replace the temporary, military site. Contruction began in mid-1955 as the Butner Training School would see its name changed twice before the era ended. In 1959, shortly after the death of Dr. James Murdoch, the name was changed to Murdoch School and finally in 1963, to the Murdoch Center, a title which better reflected the role and client population of the facility.

In April 1953, 106 acres of this land were reported excess to GSA and conveyed to S. M. Carpenter by Quit Claim Deed dated 17 August 1953. The remaining 4,750.39 acres which is now the Camp Butner National Guard Range were conveyed to the State of North Carolina by Quit Claim Deed on 27 September 1954. Currently, the site is being used as a community primarily controlled by the State of North Carolina, Federal Correctional Institution, and agriculture lands with increasing land development.

Approximately 16,558 acres are currently owned by the State of North Carolina. Of this state owned ground, 4,750 acres makes up the current Camp Butner National Guard Training Center, with the remaining 11,038 acres making up the town of Butner and agricultural type lands, with state operated farms. Approximately 23,056.24 acres reverted back to the original owners of which the land is utilized for agriculture and forestry. Approximately 769.88 acres makes up the Federal Correctional Complex.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture Umstead Research Farm has been in existence since the late 1940s. The dairy herd became a part of North Carolina State University research in 1949. The 4,060-acre farm is part of the World War II Camp Butner site. Approximately 1,000 acres are devoted to cropland and pasture, with the remaining acreage managed timberland.

The farm maintains a milking herd of nearly 300 Holstein dairy cows used for intensive genetic research projects in cooperation with the North Carolina State University Animal Science Department and College of Veterinary Medicine. A three year trial with cows on bSt (bovine Somatotropin) assists in addressing dairy production issues by the industry and general public. The station also serves as a teaching facility for NCSU veterinary medicine students.

The area is situated in the Piedmont Province, an area characterized by rolling topography with well rounded hills and long, low ridges. Terrain found in this area is hilly, ranging from a high elevation of approximately 500 feet above mean sea level (msl) to a low elevation of approximately 280 feet msl. The undeveloped hills within the area are forested with various hardwoods including oaks, flowering dogwood, beech, sweet gum, holly, hickory and red maple. Stands and individuals of loblolly and Virginia pines and eastern red cedar are mixed with the deciduous species. Evergreens were noted to populate ridges and slopes with southern exposures. Hilltops are generally vegetated with hardwoods, predominantly oaks with sparse understory.

Camp Butner has a diversity of wildlife habitat. It provides habitat particularly suited to small game species, such as quail, rabbit, dove, and squirrel. Soils throughout the camp are generally well suited to the establishment and growth of most native and introduced plants used for wildlife food and cover. Deer and turkey are the largest species in the survey area. Corn, soybeans, and forage grasses provide an abundant food supply for deer. Deer use areas of cover crops during winter. Densely wooded areas of Wehadkee soils on flood plains support good vegetative cover for deer. Turkey inhabit the camp to a lesser extent than deer. Turkey mainly inhabit areas of the less accessible hardwood tracts.

 



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