A small oasis and valuable water supply along the Old Mojave Road, Camp Rock Springs was the site of a military outpost established on December 30, 1866. There are few remains or ruins of the old dusty outpost but a plaque to remind the visitors that men of the U.S. Army served at this remote desert post.
Camp Rock Springs
To the United States Soldiers of Camp
Rock Springs— who guarded the U.S. Mail.
No Glory there nor much chance for
military fame, but true patriots and heroes
were they, to submit to such privations–
Yet there are the nurseries of the army,
and from such hard schools we graduated
a grant and Sherman, Sheridan and Thomas.
General James F. Rusling USA
Bill Holcomb Chapter
E. Clampus Vitus
The sentiment of General Rusling is poignant, and the soldiers who guarded this post did so without notice from the outside world. Few people at the time, yet alone now even knew this place existed. Beginning in 1860 a 20 man patrol, with one officer would patrol between Camp Rock Springs and Fort Mojave to the East, twice per month, every month, to maintain and service the Mojave Road.
In 1863, a number of complaints were filed with the army recording Indian sightings and activity including 300 – 400 encamped about 30 miles to the south. Additionally there were complaints the Native Americans were thought to be steeling cattle, however these complaints were cancelled a few days later. If nothing else, this would seem to indicate a level of contempt and distrust towards the native population regardless, these complaints and issues kept the army in the Mojave desert busy.
In 1865, two men started a mining operation at the Rock Springs location. While the two men were away, their buildings burnt and their supplies stolen. The two men immediately became very vocal in their complaints that the government was developing the area for the government while not protective the investment of the miners. Soon after the miners fled the area, Camp Rock Springs became and official post of the army, and is described as “On the desert . . . very disagreeable place for the troops” in a government report.
The camp was quickly built using local building materials, however the high cost of operating the camp and the scarcity of water, despite the spring, caused the camp to close in 1868. The duties of Camp Rock were taken over by the Camp at Marl Springs.
The site now does still have some water, and is a small oasis in the desert. The spring does not travel more than 50 feet into the canyon before the desert claims it again. The Camp, like the soldiers is long gone.
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