The former Camp Simms in the city’s southeastern quadrant housed the DC National Guard rifle range prior to World War II. In 1936, Work: A Journal of Progress reported extensive Works Progress Administration (WPA) improvements to Camp Simms:
“Transformation of the National Guard Rifle Range at Camp Sims, from an ill-equipped, obsolete military adjunct into a model rifle range, is one of the many accomplishments of relief labor under the Works Progress Administration in the District of Columbia.
One of the first tasks undertaken by WPA labor at Camp Sims was that of raising the level of practically the whole site. Coincident with this work the camp road was improved and a new system of drainage installed. The course of the creek bordering the camp had to be changed to meet the new drainage requirements.
In addition to this job, WPA workmen built a new stone 21-target rifle butt, demolished two of the older butts, built a new pistol range, constructed four new target houses, repaired buildings and cleared approximately 6,000 square yards of forest and brush land.
This work was done at the cost of $24,000 for labor.
Camp Sims is the only rifle range in the District of Columbia and is used extensively by the National Guard, Marine Corps, members of the Metropolitan Police Department and the regular armed services of the Federal Government.”
In 1940, the Washington Post reported another round of WPA improvements to the site: “Work starts today on grading of drill fields, new gun sheds, mess hall, machine gun repair shop and new walks and roads.”
In the 1980s, Camp Sims was released by the military to the District government and cleaned of its toxic load of old artillery. It has since been demolished and turned into mixed residential and commercial areas.
District of Columbia Works Progress Administration, “Militia Rifle Range Enlarged,” Work: A Journal of Progress, Vol. 1, No. 1, Sept. 1936, p. 31
“Army of 3,690 from WPA starts strengthening Capital defenses,” Washington Post, July 11, 1940, p. 5National Archives, Record Group 69, “Microfilmed Index to WPA Projects.”
Kenneth Bredemeier, "District Purchases Camp Simms in Southeast," August 24, 1984.
Kathy Jones, "Bombs Away: Army Corps of Engineers Is Cleaning Up Camp Simms’ Explosive History," Washington City Paper, August 23, 1996
"Giant Foods to Open in Camp Simms," Washington DC Economic Partnership, March 25, 2005.
Camp Simms: https://www.epa.gov/reg3hwmd/bf-lr/newsletter/2007-Spring/Camp_Simms.htmlDistrict of Columbia National Guard, subsection "A Home for the DC Guard," accessed August 18, 2019.
Project originally submitted by Brent McKee on June 16, 2013.
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