Farragut Naval Training Station

Farragut Naval Training Station [US Navy]


Farragut Naval Station rose almost overnight on wide-open fields and rolling hills that had once served as a seasonal stop for early Indian and pioneer migrations. In late 1941, the U.S. government snapped up the land from private owners, Kootenai County, and a railway company to establish an inland naval base more than 300 miles away from the western coastline, where the nation feared a Japanese invasion.   It was named after David Farragut - who was instrumental in setting up Mare Island Naval Shipyard.

For the next nine months more than 22,000 men worked 10-hour shifts for 13 of every 14 days for Walter Butler Construction Co. to build mess halls, libraries, movie theaters, living quarters, chapels and other buildings. In the great hurry and Farragut NTCwith a supply crunch, many of the 776 buildings were constructed with green wood. The flurry of construction activity provided a giant economic shot-in-the-arm for surrounding communities like Sandpoint, still mired in a slow revival from the Great Depression of the 1930s.

"They paid $1.60 an hour," recalls Hope resident Fred Kennedy, who later operated a tugboat/barge service on Lake Pend Oreille. "No one had ever heard of such wages." Carpenters, laborers and tradespeople from throughout the Sandpoint area pounded nails, hauled supplies and filled in wherever needed as the huge base sped into motion.

Between its opening in September, 1942, and its decommissioning in June, 1946, this stunning expanse of 4,000 acres served as temporary home to almost 300,000 naval recruits. Located about 30 miles from Sandpoint at the far end of the lake, the Farragut Naval Training Station -- briefly to become Idaho's largest city -- served as boot camp for "Blue Jackets." During basic training, recruits left home for the first time, came to Farragut and learned to how march, row, swim and use firearms before heading off to the Mediterranean Sea or the South Pacific. Others received additional training as signalman's gunner's mates, the hospital corps or radiomen. WAVES (women naval officers) served as nurses at the base hospital.

from:  http://www.sandpointonline.com/sandpointmag/sms96/Farragut.html



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