Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

March 19, 2012
A brief history of Beale Air Force Base

Beale002.jpgThe California State Military Museum recently posted a compact, but detailed, history of Beale Air Force Base (known at different times as: Camp Beale, Beale Air Force Military Reservation; Camp Beale Military Reservation; Air Force Facility S-2; Marysville Armored Training Camp; Beale Triangular Division Camp; and Beale Bombing and Gunnery Range).

The facility is named for Edward Fitzgerald Beale, a prominent surveyor, rancher, explorer and military leader who supplied the U.S. government with information about California during the mid-1800s. He later became a diplomat, serving as Ambassador to Austria-Hungry.

Camp Beale was established in 1942 as a training base for the 13th Army Armored Division. The nearby mining town of Spenceville was rebuilt as a mock German Village used by Beale soldiers to learn urban combat techniques. During World War II the facility also housed a German POW camp, chemical warfare school and military hospital.

In 1948 Camp Beale became Beale Air Force Base whose initial mission was to train bombardier-navigators. In subsequent years the base was home to various commands and aircraft, such as jet trainers (T-38), strategic bombers (B-52), airborne tankers (K135) and reconnaissance planes (U2 and SR71).

Today Beale is a part of the Air Combat Command (the merger of the Strategic Air and Tactical Air Commands) which supplies air combat forces to commanders in war zones.

PHOTO CREDIT: Some 48,000 people attended an Open House at Beale Air force base on May 7, 1976. In the foreground is the Lockheed U2 and to the right is the SR71 "Blackbird" reconnaissance aircraft. Sacramento Bee photograph

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About Sac History Happenings

California and Sacramento have a long, rich, vibrant history. And our region is blessed with an abundance of historical resources maintained by museums, libraries, archives and societies. This blog aims to alert readers to the latest developments in local/state historical education and research.

Send tips concerning upcoming exhibits, tours, lectures and meetings, as well as new books, magazine articles and online collections to the blog's contributors.

The Contributors:

Michael Dolgushkin

Michael Dolgushkin is Manuscript Librarian at the California State Library History Section. He is co-author of San Francisco's California Street Cable Cars and is a frequent contributor to the California State Library Foundation Bulletin. Contact him at

Amanda Graham

Amanda Graham is a Certified Archivist working in the Sacramento Room of the Sacramento Public Library. She earned a BS in History from Southern Oregon University and a MS in Information Studies with an emphasis in archives from The University of Texas at Austin. Contact her at

Pete basofin

Pete Basofin is Director of Editorial Research at The Sacramento Bee. He previously worked at The St. Petersburg Times and Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune. Contact him at

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