Welcome to Atwood Center
Camp GrantSeth B. Atwood Park is the site of the former Camp Grant that was operational for both World Wars - during WWI as a training center and artillery range and during WWII as an induction center. There are still numerous structures visible within the park.
Camp Grant History Simplified:
World War I
- June 1917: Work begins on Rockford's Camp Grant. Named after Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, it is the largest training facility in the Midwest.
- September 1917: The first draftees arrive. Their primary focus is on infantry-related field skills. Camp Grant would train 56,238 troops during WWI, with an estimated one million people passing through in some capacity.
- September 1918: An influenza epidemic sweeps the area, closing all schools and public places, 1,400 soldiers die at Camp Grant.
- November 1918: "The Great War" ends. Troops return home.
World War II
- October 1940 - August 1945: Camp Grant is re-activated as an induction center (for physical exams, etc.) and medical training post for draftees. Approximately 100,000 medical personnel were trained at the camp, and at the height of the war it was the nation's largest induction site. The camp also served as a POW detention center and employed 6,000 civilians, greatly boosting the local economy.
- September 1945: WWII comes to a close.
- September 1947: The majority of Camp Grant buildings are torn down.
- Fall 1956: Seth B. Atwood buys former camp land and donates it to the Rockford Park District. Outdoor Education programs would begin three years late.