Camp Davis (University of Michigan)

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The University of Michigan was the pioneer in the establishment and maintenance of a field camp for work in surveying practices and techniques. Organized by Professor Joseph B. Davis, the first session of what came to be called Camp Davis was held near Whitmore Lake during the summer of 1874. The next year, the camp moved to Thornapple Lake, and over the next thirty years, the site of the camp shifted about to a dozen different locations in Michigan's lower peninsula, usually near an expanse of water. This constant moving about created difficulties. Without a permanent facility, Davis and his staff had to move, assemble, and store the cumbersome equipment of the camp at the beginning and end of the summer session.

In 1908 Charles and Hannah Bogardus of Pellston, Michigan, donated 1400 acres of land on Douglas Lake in Cheboygan County to the University to be used as the permanent site for the surveying camp. Upon inspection Davis judged the land to be adequate for the teaching and practice of surveying, yet there were some problems that needed to be overcome. For one thing, since the lake acreage was covered with a dense growth of trees and brush, the area had to be cleared before any instruction could begin. Secondly, the surveying camp had to share use of the land with the University's Biological Station located one-quarter of a mile northeast of the surveying students. The proximity of the two groups with their different activities and their different attitudes toward the land created an inevitable tension which was to last for twenty years.

J.B. Davis administered the surveying camp for nearly forty years. In 1912, professor C.T. Johnston took over the administration of the camp. In 1916, the Board of Regents, in recognition of Davis' contribution to the University, formally changed the name of the camp to the Davis Engineering Camp.

In 1928, Johnston and some of his colleagues considered the possibility of moving the camp to the west. They found the site they were looking for in Wyoming. In 1929, the Regents of the University purchased an abandoned 120 acre ranch near Jackson's Hole, Wyoming for $2500. The location was ideal for several reasons. The temperature was stable; there were no insects to contend with; and the camp site was located near miles of open country with a varied topography most appropriate for surveying exercises. For over fifty years, Jackson's Hole continued as the home of Camp Davis; and scores of University students received their practical experience in civil engineering there.

From the guide to the Camp Davis (University of Michigan) records, 1874-1964, (Bentley Historical Library University of Michigan)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Green family. Camilla and Ethel Green photograph series. Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Camp Davis (University of Michigan) records, 1874-1964 Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn William S. Housel papers, 1916-1968 Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Engineering Communications (University of Michigan) Records, 1895-1997, 1960-1997 Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Camilla and Ethel Green Family Papers, 1827-1988, 1910-1955 Bentley Historical Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Davis, Joseph Baker, 1845-1920 person
associatedWith Green family. family
associatedWith Green Family. family
associatedWith Housel, William Stuart, 1901- person
associatedWith Johnston, Clarence Thomas, 1872-1970 person
associatedWith University of Michigan. College of Engineering. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Dept. of Geodesy and Surveying. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Engineering Communications. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Summer Session. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Alpena (Mich.)
Glen Lake (Leelanau County, Mich.)
Bogardus Engineering Camp (University of Michigan)
Douglas Lake (Mich.)
Camp Davis (University of Michigan)
Mackinac Island (Mich.)

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