In 1917, the citizens of the county voted to support a bond to purchase land to donate to the federal government for a military base here. Camp Lewis was the first base created through this process. It was named for Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition which group traveled in 1804-1806 to find a northwest passage to the Pacific Ocean. Construction on the Camp began rapidly in July 1917. In just three months, most structures, roads and other buildings were under construction. The main gate was funded by the workers and still stands today, though moved during the 1950ís. After WWI, military spending was greatly reduced and Camp Lewis went somewhat in need of repair. The local people, who had donated the land, were not happy and told the government to return the land if they werenít going to take care of it. By 1926, a funding bill passed congress and Camp Lewis was to be revitalized. Camp Lewis was renamed a Fort in September 1927. When WWII began to escalate, the Fort increased its population with over 37,000 troops. More housing was built at this time. After Pearl Harbor, soldiers from Fort Lewis helped to secure all the military installations in the Pacific Northwest. War brought more people and more responsibility to the Fort.
Fort Lewis houses the I Corps, the 4th ROTC Region Headquarters, Madigan Army Medical Center, and other tenant and support units. The Fort itself has over 25,000 soldiers and civilian workers. It also supports over 120,000 retirees in the area and more than 29,000 family members living on and off the post. The combined payroll of military, civilian and retirees is $ 1.2 billion. The Fort contains 86,000 acres of land.
For more information about Fort Lewis, please contact the Public Affairs office at 253-967-0156.
The Fort Lewis Military Museum
The museum has a large collection of artifacts and memorabilia about the Fort's history and of the Army in the Pacific Northwest area. You can see not only uniforms and weapons, but also tanks, cannons and other vehicles. The former Red Shield Inn, built during World War I, houses the museum.
For more information on the museum, please call 253-967-7206