Two hundred and twenty one enrollees first occupied the site in the fall of 1934 and an early inspection report states, “A newly constructed camp with a very pleasing set up. Exceptionally good bathhouse and latrine… 9 barracks each housing about 20 men.” Under the question, ‘What is the general spirit and feeling of enrolled men?’ the answer is listed as, “Excellent”. On October 5, 1934, the Log Cabin Democrat reports that the “grounds are being cleaned up, hospital and mess hall painted, windows and doors stained and walks laid of soapstone and shale.”
Over the course of occupation, the site was bustling with activity and quickly became a center of activity in the area. For example, the Log Cabin Democrat reports on February 14, 1935 that members of the Conway Rotary Club joined officers over dinner. Two days later on February 16, 1935, the Log Cabin Democrat reports that an additional 30 members visited for a full tour where “the Camp Halsey orchestra… played several popular numbers for the guests.”
Even with all the activity, a June 1935 inspection report notes that the camp is “unusually attractive on appearance [with] buildings well arranged and camp area beautyfied [sic] with shrubbery” and that “educational programs [are] progressing satisfactorily. Camp [is] well provided with atheletic [sic] areas such as Base Ball fields, tennis courts, soft balle [sic] courts… also road through camp [Front Street] is oiled to prevent dust”.
Today, the land in which these activities took place is managed as pastureland for horses along with the requisite field dogs. The former bustling Front Street is now a field with the remains of drainage ditches and small rock culverts. The land is still owned by the Halsey family, of which the Camp is named. Mr. Larry Halsey lives on the property and has given us permission to conduct long-term research.
A 1937 yearbook documents some activities and provides images of a few buildings in which they took place. From these images, we are introduced to numerous athletic undertakings, such as the presence of baseball, basketball, and football teams. There were also numerous educational activities, such as first aid and typewriting classes, and a reading room to house the classes. A Monthly Educational Report of September 1934 highlights that “two enrollees who could barely sign their names… six months ago…. have now reached the standards ordinarily achieved by the typical third grade pupil. They have shown remarkable progress in mastering the fundamentals of reading, writing, and arithmetic.”
The men also had time to relax, read, and play music and the community was certainly welcome to join in these recreational activities. For example, on an October Saturday in 1935 the camp hosted a dance where Conway girls were “invited… to dance with the enrollees.”
But it wasn’t all fun and games. On June 18, 1935 the Log Cabin Democrat reports that the camp was “placed under quarantine for the second time within the past six weeks. Development of a case of scarlet fever and a case of diphtheria prompted officials to quarantine the camp.”
What remains today are numerous foundations in varying conditions, hidden under the trees, and buried in leaf litter. The remaining foundations represent the locations of former buildings, including barracks and officers quarters, supply buildings, an educational building, a mess hall with attached kitchen, a latrine and bath house, a hospital, two pump houses, recreation hall, garage, and blacksmith shop. Pedestrian surveys and interviews with Mr. Halsey document the location of several of these foundations and give us a preliminary layout of the camp with considerations of public and private space.
Many of these buildings had water and sewer connections, of which several of the sewer system retainers and clean-outs are visible today. In fact, on October 5, 1934, the Log Cabin Democrat mentions that Camp Halsey was “the only camp in the state having waterworks.” A 1934 building report documents two types of latrines present: a “wash down closet” for Officers & Foresters and a “flushing hopper” for enrollees.
The base of a large flagpole has been pushed into the trees over the years and its exact former location is not known. An historic photograph of Front Street shows the location of the flagpole, which is in the same general area as the disposed base. Historic documents also mention the presence of a 5,000-gallon water storage tower. The two remaining standing structures include a large double-sided chimney that was part of the recreation center and a stone masonry message board.
A cattle dipping vat is in the center of the camp and was built sometime after the camp was abandoned. It is situated only a few feet from the former mess hall, kitchen, and latrine bathhouse buildings and offers architectural evidence of changes in landscape use over time.