Missouri army camp trained celebrities

Michael Bushnell
Northeast News

Camp Crowder in Neosho, originally established as an Army Signal Corps training camp, was made famous by a variety of celebrities who spent time there during World War II. The camp was named for native Missourian Major General Enoch Crowder, who authored the Selective Service Act, establishing the draft in World War I. The camp opened during one of the rainiest spring seasons on record and was quickly nicknamed “Camp Swampy” by the men who trained there.

That name would ultimately stick for Historic Northeast native Mort Walker (1923-2018,) who used Crowder as the prototype for his army camp in his comic strip Beatle Bailey. Dick Van Dyke, who also spent time at Camp Crowder in the early 1940s, went on to use the camp in Episode 70 of his hit TV show of the early 1960s. Van Dyke’s character, Rob Petrie, invites an old army pal home to dinner and begins to fear he has a jewel thief on his hands. The episode originally aired Nov. 6, 1961. Rob’s buddy was played by native Kansas Citian Allen Melvin, who, in one of his more visible roles, played Sam the Butcher on The Brady Bunch.

The army closed Camp Crowder in the early 1960s. Some of its original buildings were demolished or dismantled and used elsewhere in Missouri. The theater building was actually reconstructed on the University  of Missouri-Kansas City campus and used until it was razed in the 1980s to make way for a new theater.

The remaining buildings on the base were used by a variety of public and private entities throughout the duration of the Cold War. Roughly 2,000 acres of the 46,000-acre tract was used during the 1950s and 60s as a rocket engine plant, where engines were manufactured for NASA’s Mercury and Gemini Space programs.
Ultimately, the base was closed and the land was parceled out to various public and private entities. Crowder College currently occupies a number of the original buildings on the base, as does the Missouri National Guard.

Comments are closed.

  • Fairmount Park: Arthur Stillwell’s vision

    October 17th, 2018

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News This week’s postcard gives us a look at Fairmount Park from Independence Avenue. This view would […]

    After Hannibal bridge, Kansas City would boom

    October 10th, 2018

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News Construction of the Hannibal Bridge almost didn’t happen in Kansas City in 1867. Leavenworth, Kan., and […]

    The Northeast’s “Tiffany Castle”

    October 3rd, 2018

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News Flavel B. Tiffany was born in New York in 1846 and migrated to Kansas City in […]

    October is American Royal time

    September 26th, 2018

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News This photo-chrome postcard showing two scenes from the American Royal Parade was mailed on October of […]

    Swope mystery lives on while park thrives

    September 19th, 2018

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News This card, titled “Entrance to Swope Park, Kansas City,” may have been sent by a prominent […]

  • Cascio’s Corner

    September 12th, 2018

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News This week, in conjunction with our National Cheeseburger Day promotion, we feature an iconic Historic Northeast location […]

    The Heim Influence

    September 5th, 2018

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News Ferdinand Heim, along with his brothers Michael and Joseph, purchased the Star Ale Brewery at 14th […]

    Labor takes a holiday

    August 29th, 2018

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News This year, in honor of the approaching Labor Day holiday, we get a rare glimpse inside […]

    Advertising postcards were social media of the day

    August 22nd, 2018

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News “This house roofed by Northwest Ready Roofing Company,” reads the description on the front of this […]

    Norman School: A proud testament to Historic Preservation

    August 15th, 2018

    Norman School in the 3500 block of Jefferson was built in 1898 by John Perry, Principal of the Keith & […]

  • What’s Happening


    Kenneth A. Shelton, 68, of Northeast Kansas City, MO was born on July 20, 1950. He passed away Tuesday at […]

    Captain Ryan Mills reflects on progress made while he served with East Patrol

        Abby Cambiano Northeast News The Northeast is saying goodbye to East Patrol Captain Ryan Mills, on October 27. […]

    Samuel U. Rodgers hosts ‘Crucial Catch’ breast cancer awareness event

    By Reese Bentzinger Ten years ago the NFL and the American Cancer Society teamed up in order to reach the […]

  • Local Weather