For over 75 years prior to the founding of CSUMB, the ground on which the campus now stands was known as an army base to hundreds of families and local community members. As the largest American military post outside the South, Fort Ord attracted scores of minority and interracial families. An African-American city councilwoman from Seaside describes Fort Ord fondly as "a post of compassion for minorities and for children with disabilities. It was an employer and it provided many starts."
The U.S. Army conducted a multitude of operations over Fort Ord's existence. This is a very brief synopsis of those years:
1917 Land was purchased just north of the city of Monterey for use as an artillery-training field for the army. The area was variously known as Gigling Reservations, U.S. Field Artillery Area-Presidio of Monterey, and Gigling Field Artillery Range.
1933 The artillery field became Camp Ord. Primarily, horse cavalry units trained on the camp until the military began to mechanize and train mobile combat units
1941 Camp Ord became Fort Ord. For the next thirty years, the fort became the primary facility for basic training for the Army. At 28,000 acres-approximately 44 square miles-the fort was larger than the county of San Francisco.
1976 Fort Ord ceased activity as the nation's primary basic training site. Approximately 1.5 million men and women-including such luminaries as Clark Gable, Clint Eastwood, and Jerry Garcia-had received their basic training at Fort Ord. At its peak, more than 35,000 people lived and worked on the base.
1988 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) legislation was passed by Congress.
1990 Fort Ord was declared a Superfund site, requiring cleanup of all contaminated areas.
1991 The decision to close Fort Ord was made. Of the hundreds of bases targeted for closure across the country, Fort Ord was one of four selected by the Federal Government to be a model for conversion to peacetime use.
1994 Fort Ord officially closed. The fort was the largest U.S. military base to be closed at the time.