February 11, 2003
History of Ft. Irwin
Fort Irwin is located approximately 37 miles northeast of Barstow, California in the High Mojave Desert midway between Las Vegas, Nevada and Los Angeles, California. Ft. Irwin is one of the biggest military training areas in the world. Military units from all over the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) conduct monthly rotations at Ft. Irwin in hope of being able to defeat the Opposition Force (OPFOR). The realistic training provided at the NTC assures soldiers are adequately prepared to protect and preserve United States interests here and abroad. Today, Ft. Irwin plays a very key role to the successful mission of our Armed Forces. Ft. Irwin has come a long way from the times of its early settlers, to being designated as a training site, helping support numerous military campaigns, and to its proposed plans for expansion.
Spanish settlers it is assumed were the first European influence to have contact with the native Mojave, Chemehuevi, and Quechan Indians who lived in the California desert for thousands of years before explorers set foot in North America. These Native Americans lived primarily along the Colorado River but made frequent long travels westward across the desert for food, minerals, and trade. In 1844, Captain John C. Fremont, accompanied by Kit Carson, was the first member of the US Army to visit the Fort Irwin area. Captain Freemont established a camp near Bitter Springs, which would later become an important supply center for pioneers during California's settlement and gold rush. Native Americans continued to use it until the mid-19th century when the U.S. acquired the land. In 1868, with the colonial defeats of the Mojave Indian resistance, most of the California desert was claimed for livestock grazing, mining, towns, utility...