The Filson Historical Society Digital Projects

Camp Zachary Taylor

This exhibit shares images and documents from the Filson’s collection that illustrate the changing ownership and landscape of the Camp Zachary Taylor area and illuminate the history of Louisville’s World War I cantonment.

In 1917, the Louisville Board of Trade purchased close to three thousand acres of farmland and open fields several miles south of the city of Louisville, Kentucky. The U.S. Government transformed this acreage into an active military camp with around two thousand buildings, training over 125,000 American soldiers for participation in World War I, with even more men passing through during demobilization in 1919.

In 1921, after only four years, the Government auctioned off some of the land, buildings, and equipment at a loss of nearly six million dollars. The subdivided land would eventually become a working-class neighborhood, still known as “Camp Taylor.” In 1941, the US Public Building Administration constructed the Fincastle Heights Defense Housing Project on a portion of the original Army camp still owned by the government. Some of the homes in the neighborhood today are still located on the concrete pads once used as bathrooms and showers for the World War I barracks.

Large map 976.991 S648 1918_Camp Taylor and vicinity.jpg

United States Geological Survey Map of Camp Taylor and Vicinity, 1918