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Difficulties in Building Camp Upton Told In Major’s Report Pt..3

Footnotes to Long Island History

Difficulties in Building Camp

by
Thomas R. Bayles

Navy

 


 
"Following is a list of material used in the construction of Camp Upton by carloads prepared by W.T. McCauley, American Railroad Association representative: Lumber, 2779; cots, 80; nail, 23;roofing paper, 88; iron pipe, 136; cement, 91; feed, hay and oats, 177; wall board, 34; refrigerators, 38, tar and oil, 40; miscellaneous 333; coal, 29; gravel, 419; brick, 62; sewer pipe, 212; crushed stone 765; frames sash, and doors, 100; radiators, stoves, etc., 144; wood pipe, 52 Total of 5,742 carloads.
"The labor was obtained from the local villages as far as possible, but as there was not enough men in the neighborhood, the bulk came from New York. The contractor established an employment office in New York where men were hired as needed and sent by special train  to camp.
"Great difficulty was experienced in July and August in the delivery of building materials due to the lack of graded roads. After September 1, graded dirt roads were far enough in advance to make sections under construction easily accessible to teams and trucks. The permanent railroad sidings to the division warehouses were available on August 12 for limited use by the contractor.
"The time and cost of unloading the cars was excessive, as the lumber was thrown from the cars into a pile alongside the track, and then piled and sorted. Unloading went on day and night, the men working in shifts to suit the hours of the railroad switching crews.
"Great trouble was experienced in having proper amount of lumber delivered to each building site, and it usually happened that there would be an oversupply of certain sizes and not enough of other sizes. This was due partly to the drivers who wanted to unload at the first place they came to, and partly due to the carpenter foremen, who would order the lumber unloaded at the building they were working on.
"All quarters for the men, stables and warehouses were built upon wooden post foundations, set 30 inches in the ground. In constructing the two-story barracks a gang of carpenters followed the post gang and placed the first floor sills and rough flooring. Another gang followed and framed the sides flat upon the floor, and the ends flat upon the ground, and they were raised by men lifting the side along the wall plate, and walking underneath the sides and raising it into position. Cutting and ripping was done by 25 portable saws driven by five horsepower gasoline engines. Most of lumber was a low grade unseasoned southern pine, and could not be handled without some loss due to breakage."
"Three classes of roads were built. Class A roads were built where traffic was heaviest, the pavement of these of the penetration type 18 feet wide. A base course No. 3 stones five inches thick, and rolled, with a second course of the same size rolled, and covered with Tarvia X applied under pressure, and a final coat, of Tarvia X applied and covered with a layer of gravel and rolled. Class B roads were built of natural soil for light travel.
"The main road to camp from the Merrick road was graded to connect with the camp road system, crossing over the Long Island Rail Road tracks on a bridge build in conjunction with the Railroad Co.
"At first, garbage was removed by near-by farmers, but the amount soon became so large they could not handle it. Rock pit incinerators were built and garbage placed in cans, and a detail of men removed the cans to a nearby incinerator where it was burned. Cans were washed inside and outside, dried by burning and returned to a clean can platform.
"It was realized that with thousands of workmen coming into camp there was great danger of introducing infectious diseases. A medical examination of all men was desirable, but always possible. Negroes were examined for smallpox before being assigned quarters, and typhoid vaccines were given to all men who desired it. The general health of the workmen was excellent."
 

 

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