Camp Abbot’s Important Role During World War II

Sunriver is one of the region’s oldest and most beloved destination resorts. Since the late 1960s, Oregon families have made memories here, riding bikes to the general store, learning to golf on the courses and swimming in the river and the resort’s pools.

Well before developers broke ground on Sunriver Resort, however, the area played an important role in World War II.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the need for training grounds on the West Coast became apparent as the United States started fighting a war on two fronts––Europe and the Pacific. The Army was conducting training all over the United States, and when the time came to build a third engineer replacement training center in the West, the Army chose Bend.

A historic photo of Camp Abbot, circa 1943, featuring barracks and an American flag.

Camp Abbot headquarters, 1943, Photo Courtesy: Deschutes County Historical Society

A historic photo of an arch welcoming visitors to Camp Abbot, now Sunriver, Oregon, circa 1943.

Camp Abbot, 1943, Photo Courtesy: Deschutes County Historical Society

Construction began in December 1942. According to Tor Hanson’s book, Images of America: Camp Abbot, the camp became operational on May 1, 1943, and 250 soldiers arrived the same day. Among the most significant structures was the large gate at the entrance of the camp along the highway.

Soldiers at the camp underwent basic training, including classroom instruction and a variety of physical training in the High Desert. There was also specialist training––engineers built practice bridges across the Deschutes River, according to Hanson’s book, and also took part in three-week “training problems” that sent them far afield from Camp Abbot to other parts of the region to participate in field maneuvers.

Camp Abbot was a busy place––it had its own newspaper and baseball team, employed hundreds of civilians, and housed and fed about 10,000 military personnel (the same number of people as called Bend home at that time).

Troops conduct drill practice at Camp Abbot, now Bend, Oregon

Drill Practice, Camp Abbot, 1943, Photo Courtesy: Deschutes County Historical Society

Camp Abbot was shuttered in June of 1944 even though World War II was in full swing. The Army moved operations and consolidated at Fort Lewis, 40 miles south of Seattle.

The camp, which was set up with water, sewer and other infrastructure, sat vacant until the early 1960s when developers purchased the property to redevelop it as a resort. Sunriver opened in 1969.

Today, the only reminder of Camp Abbot at Sunriver is a big one––the officer’s mess, constructed with area wood like Ponderosa pine and rocks quarried from the area and featuring a large spiral staircase, and which was completed just before the camp’s closure in 1944. It remains in use as Sunriver’s Great Hall, which hosts weddings and other special events.

Other stories

More inspiring stories, adventures, and tips & tricks for planning and experiencing the best Central Oregon has to offer.

  • Adventures Abound Starting at Sunriver Resort
    Adventures Abound Starting at Sunriver Resort

    Sunriver is the type of place that takes your breath away no matter what season it is. During the summer you can hop on a horse for your very own wild wild west experience. The team at Sunriver Stables will make you feel comfortable on your ride, even if you’ve never saddled up before. Whether you’re in a tube or a kayak, floating down the Deschutes River is a relaxing activity that’s fun for the whole family.

  • Casual Family Weekend in Sunriver
    Casual Family Weekend in Sunriver

    Imagine this: you’re riding your bike through a rolling meadow, the Cascade mountain range in the background, and the only sound is from the whir of a prop plane taking off against a crisp blue sky. Up ahead, your children pull carrots from their pockets and present them to a gathering of friendly horses in an adjacent pasture.

  • Central Oregon Winter Adventures
    Central Oregon Winter Adventures

    When the snow flies, Central Oregon shines. All you have to do is choose your adventure. Mt. Bachelor - The model of a complete snowsports resort, Mt. Bachelor offers 360-degree lift-served groomed skiing and riding from its volcanic summit.

  • Lava Lands Visitor Center a Central Oregon Geologic Gem
    Lava Lands Visitor Center a Central Oregon Geologic Gem

    In the late 1960s NASA looked for a place to send astronauts who were training for a mission that would change the world. But before the mission could happen, NASA needed a place to mimic what they believed those astronauts would find on the surface of the moon. Because, after all, nobody had been there before so nobody really knew what the surface of the moon was like.

  • Winter Isn’t Only About Snow in Central Oregon
    Winter Isn’t Only About Snow in Central Oregon

    It’s true that when winter rolls around in Central Oregon, most people’s minds veer toward things to do in the snow. With Mt. Bachelor, Hoodoo, sno-parks and more, there’s plenty of options for folks to get out and play.

  • Get Your “Ah-Ha” Beer Moment at Sunriver Brewing Company
    Get Your “Ah-Ha” Beer Moment at Sunriver Brewing Company

    Central Oregon can claim more breweries than quite a few states. We’re not exaggerating. Our region has 30+ breweries. That shows how much we care about craft beer but, it can make it tough to choose where to taste local brews, we get it!

  • Sammies and Sandos: Central Oregon’s Best Sandwiches
    Sammies and Sandos: Central Oregon’s Best Sandwiches

    Sometimes after a day full of adventure, all that you crave is a simple, yet delicious, stick-to-your-ribs sandwich. (And a beer, obviously.)

  • Central Oregon Hiking Trails
    Central Oregon Hiking Trails

    Head east on Highway 20 (Greenwood Avenue) to the Pilot Butte State Park. The parking area and trailhead are just east of the butte. Walk on either the nature trail or the paved road. The road is also for vehicle traffic, weather permitting. It is a wonderful viewpoint for the entire Bend area. This hiking trail is one of the most popular in Central Oregon.

  • Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway: Pull Off For a Central Oregon Adventure
    Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway: Pull Off For a Central Oregon Adventure

    The Cascade Lakes Scenic byway is one of the prettiest drives in the U.S. But it might be the most recreationally rich road you’ll ever drive too. From Bend southwest to the Highway 58 junction, the Oregon Route 372 cuts through 66 miles unique volcanic formations and geological beauty that offers everything that makes Central Oregon an outdoor lover’s paradise.