Home News Local News Ceremony for Camp Roswell historic marker set for Dec. 13

Ceremony for Camp Roswell historic marker set for Dec. 13

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The public is invited to attend a dedication ceremony Thursday, Dec. 13 to celebrate the placement of a historical marker at Camp Roswell, one of the first and most expansive prisoners of war camps built in the U.S. during World War II.

Roswell Chamber of Commerce Redcoats will host a ribbon cutting and a brief presentation at 1:30 p.m. where the marker will stand near Camp Roswell south of the intersection of Orchard Park Road and U.S. 285, according to a press release from the New Mexico Department of Transportation, which is tasked with installing and maintaining the marker.

The marker is 5 feet tall and 6 feet wide and made of wood, Manon Arnett, public information officer with the New Mexico Department of Transportation said in an email Thursday.

Roswell City Councilor Steve Henderson said officials from the New Mexico Historic Preservation Commission and New Mexico Department of Transportation are likely to be at the ceremony.

He said that the new scenic historic marker is meant to replace one that had been at the site but was displaced years ago.

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“So it’s a brand new marker,” Henderson said.

The website of the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division states that the markers are meant to mark historical sites, districts and other locations that have great social, economic, political, historical, scientific, artistic and architectural significance in New Mexico, the southwestern U.S. and the nation.

Henderson said he and local historian Dale Eck submitted the paperwork a little more than a year ago for the new marker. Both men went to Santa Fe in April to give a presentation to the New Mexico Historical Preservation Committee in favor of the marker. The request for the marker was approved after the presentation and recent months had been spent working to get what will be written on the marker finalized.

The marker will include a description of Camp Roswell and its significance.

Camp Roswell opened in 1942 and closed in 1946, and housed about 4,816 prisoners during the war who performed agricultural labor, Henderson said.

He added that in all, 155 such camps and 511 ranch camps were constructed in 48 states throughout the U.S. during World War II. German, Italian and Japanese prisoners were used to supplement labor shortages created by the war on farms, fields, canneries and public works programs.

Henderson said that during World War II, Roswell likely had a population of about 13,000 people and a camp that serviced as many as Camp Roswell took an awful lot logistically.

“I think it is just part of our history,” Henderson said. “There are a lot of interesting stories that come out of that camp there.”

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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