Established in May 1917, Camp Syracuse was located on the New York State Fairgrounds, approximately 4 miles from the city. Starting as a mobilization camp, elements of 9th and 16th infantry, as well as the 5th Machine Gun Battalion were processed and stationed there to operate the camp. In the summer of x918, it was reestablished as a recruitment camp for “special and limited service” men (i.e. soldiers who were - for some reason or another - not qualified for “full duty”). These limited service soldiers were often assigned to fire and guard duty on both military and non-military sites, such as harbors, bridges, or factories, with many assigned to guard the Erie Canal. The military organization of the recruitment camp consisted of companies G, K, and M of the 22nd infantry, as well as a detachment of the Quartermaster Corps and a detachment of the Medical Department. While temporary in nature, the camp saw more than 30,000 troops moving through its facilities during the course of the United States’ involvement in World War I. The camp closed sometime after November 1918, following the end of the War and the influenza outbreak that swept through the camp in the fall of that year.
The camp borders the Village of Solvay and Town of Geddes, located off the western shore of Onondaga Lake. Solvay was named for the Solvay Process Company which established a Solvay process facility there in the late 19th century. The Town of Geddes is named for James Geddes, a prominent early settler of Onondaga County who helped develop the local salt industry.
Scope of Collection
This collection contains a number of large black-and-white photographs, including panorama views, depicting the various divisions of troops stationed at the camp. Other photographs in the collection document local buildings and people from Solvay and Geddes in the late-19th and early-20th centuries