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Gilb Museum Exhibit Commemorates Race Track's History as WWII Army Base

Santa Anita Park once served as the largest Army weapons and ammunition supply training center on the West Coast.

It is a widely-known fact that the U.S. government turned Santa Anita Park into a processing center for Japanese-Americans headed to internment camps, but did you know the track also served as an World War II Army base?

From 1942 to 1945, more than 100,000 soldiers came to Santa Anita for training in issuing and maintaining weapons, ammunition and combat vehicles. And from now until March 30, the Gilb Museum of Arcadia Heritage is celebrating Camp Santa Anita's history with a temporary exhibit centered on an informational booklet for newly arrived recruits entitled "Dear Joe."

“This exhibit takes a behind-the-scenes look at Camp Santa Anita," Curator Dana Dunn said. "The booklet, which the exhibit was taken from, is written in a myriad of genres and included instructions to new recruits and pertinent information about the serious issues of war as well as where to visit in Los Angeles when on leave and tackled other topics such as personal issues...It’s tone is sometimes serious and sometimes humorous, trying to define the camp and a deadly war in a fashion that was palatable.”

Aside from the booklet, the exhibit includes two editions of the Camp's newspaper, "Man O'War" and several original photographs, among other artifacts.

The exhibit closes March 30. The museum is at 380 W. Huntington Dr.

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