What Remains of Camp Kearns


Maddy Littleford, Editor in Chief

On July 1, 1944 1,400-1,500 men who wanted to serve their country but were either physically handicapped or otherwise unfit to fight on the field, arrived at Camp Kearns.
Today, Kearns is a growing township with a diverse community that are reminded of their past by the remains that still linger in Kearns.
Camp Kearns was intended to be a basic training facility for troops during WWII. Sixty-five years ago, Kearns was Utah’s third largest community as the base camp was officially established and soldiers began to arrive on the Rio Grande train that would run though Kearns’ base.
Kearns High School opened its doors in 1966, 20 years after the camp officially closed in 1946. Now the city of Kearns has a population of over 33,000 residents.
As many people may know, there is a network of tunnels under Kearns High School that were built long before the school was. In fact, there are a number of tunnels that run under Salt Lake City and were there years before Salt Lake was even established as a City.
The Cougar Claw got the opportunity to explore these tunnels. During WWII, Allied planes dropped 3.4 million tons of bombs on Axis powers. This of course created the tension and lingering fear of bomb threats that may fall on U.S citizens. Utah was not indifferent to these threats as many bomb shelters and tunnels just like the ones under Kearns High School still exist to this day.
James Smith, who has been a custodian at Kearns High for three years, escorted the Claw through these now empty tunnels. Once, these tunnels were merely used to hold the props and costumes the Production Company and theater students used in past plays, and before that were used as an emergency shelter in case of bomb threats. Now mainly custodians like James and maintenance workers crawl through to simply check the water works and maintain a good sewer system ensuring Kearns students and staff have running water and working heat.