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Camp Robert Toombs, named in honor of the Confederate General, was constructed by the State of Georgia to be used as a National Guard training camp. Planning for the camp began in 1938 with construction beginning in January 1940 by the Georgia National Guard and Work Projects Administration (WPA, originally Works Progress Administration). Work was finished in December 1940. The camp was used by the Georgia National Guard until 1942 when the U.S. Army took it over to be used as a training camp. The Army brought in personnel to upgrade the facilities and build more permanent type barracks. Previous personnel were housed in tents. The camp was used by the U.S. Army until World War II ended and it was given back to the State of Georgia. U.S. Army units trained at the camp were the 501st PIR, 506th PIR, 507th PIR, 511th PIR, 517th PIR and 457th PFAB. A German prison was also maintained at this site during World War II. Colonel Robert F. Sink, Commander of the famous 506th PIR (Band of Brothers) one of the first units to train here, has been credited with getting the camp name changed from Camp Robert Toombs to Camp Toccoa. There are numerous stories as to why he wanted the name changed. Some say that he didn't think that Confederate General Robert Toombs deserved the honor of having a U.S. Army training camp associated with his name. Others say that he didn't think that it was good for the moral of new troops arriving in Toccoa for training. They would get off the train in Toccoa, travel past a casket plant (Toccoa Casket Company), through a cemetery (Zebulon Baptist Church Cemetery) and arrive at a training camp with the name Toombs. For whatever reason Colonel Sink had, the name was changed to Camp Toccoa. The name change to Camp Toccoa did have some amusing side effects. At times when someone (generally a trainee that had celebrated a bit too much and lost his sense of direction) asked for directions to Camp Toccoa they would be directed to the other Camp Toccoa in Stephens County, a Girl Scout Camp. I am sure if Colonel Sink had known at the time he asked for the name change that there was a Girl Scout Camp named Toccoa within a few miles of his training camp he would have used another name. Instead of being named Camp Toccoa he would have probably asked for the name to be Camp Currahee. In retrospect this would probably have been the best name for the camp. After the camp was turned back to the State of Georgia a prison for boys under the age of eighteen was located there. It was called Toccoa Boys Industrial Institute which was later moved to Alto. At this time the State of Georgia deeded the property to the locale government to be used for industrial development. Only two of the original buildings remain on the site. One of these is a mess hall which is located on the now closed Milliken Plant site and the other a water treatment plant owned by the city of Toccoa. A large underground water storage tank is still in place on hill east of the Milliken site. The camp theater was located at present Patterson Pump Plant site and was used as office space and manufacturing for many years before it was engulfed by the present facilities. Many concrete foundations, floors and streets are still visible on the site. At one of the target ranges (Browns Bottoms), a concrete floor and target rail system is still in place. There are numerous monuments and markers located on the site honoring the units, the men and listing some of the history. A lot of the authors memories could be written here about the training and happenings he was able to observe as a young boy but that will be left for later.
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