By Dawn Arden (Leonard Wood)February 15, 2018
Fort Leonard Wood is home to many sites of interest, which include both historical and natural highlights. These points of interest may be visited by taking a driving tour of the installation.
The current driving tour is a collaborative effort between the installation's John B. Mahaffey Museum and the Directorate of Public Works', Natural Resources Division, to enlighten those living on and visiting the installation.
"All locations are places we think visitors and community members should visit or will need to visit when they come here, like Nutter Field House, Gammon Field or historically significant sites," said Stephanie Nutt, Cultural Resources Program coordinator, Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands, DPW Environmental Division. "I think it's important for community members and visitors to learn about the history right in front of them, that they may not realize is there."
Some properties included in the tour are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
"Many people don't realize how much history we have on post. Most of the historical sites included in the driving tour are World War II or Cold War-era military properties," Nutt said. "Not many people think of an Army building as being something that could also be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and have historical significance beyond what it is used for every day."
At locations like the World War II Mobilization Area, individuals are encouraged to get out and take a closer look.
"Concerning the World War II area, currently nine out of the 12 buildings are open for the public to visit," said. Lisa Lyon, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, International Army Programs Division programs specialist. "The main point of this area is to show what life was like on Fort Leonard Wood for a Soldier living in those buildings (during that time.)"
Some buildings in the complex, like the chapel, are still used today for services, weddings, graduations and other ceremonies.
Currently Building 2101, the Black Officers Club, is being renovated. While the building is still on the driving tour, the public has a limited-time opportunity to see the mural painted by Staff Sgt. Samuel Countee that hung over the fire place.
"The Countee mural is temporarily on display at the John B. Mahaffey Museum. Once the renovations are complete, the mural will return to its rightful place," Lyon said. "This is an excellent opportunity for the public to see the mural, as once it is returned there will be limited access to the building as it will be utilized as classroom space for Soldiers."
Whether a visitor is looking for something to do on post, or a resident looking for a "stay-cation," be sure to get out and explore what Fort Leonard Wood has to offer.
"Fort Leonard Wood has a great story to tell, beyond the school histories and beyond what you see in the museum," Nutt said. "The driving tour gives people the opportunity to explore that history."
Pick up a map at the main gate visitor's center to help navigate between points of interest and enjoy the drive.
Stop 1: Old Post Headquarters. Across from General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital on Missouri Avenue. Completed in May 1941 as part of the post's original construction, it was used until 1989 and demolished in 2012. The flagpole, courtyard area and POW stonework remain, along with interpretive signs on the grounds.
Stop 2: Red Cross Building. Next door to the Old Post Headquarters. This building was also constructed in 1941. It housed the Red Cross Office for 58 years until 1999, when it was converted to VIP guest quarters and renamed the Ike Skelton House after U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton from Missouri. Per the construction standard for World War II-era Red Cross Offices, is was built in the shape of a cross and hosted red shingles to make it "distinguishable from the air and not fired upon in times of war." This building is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
Stop 3: Veterans Memorial Park. A triangle piece of land located at the intersection of North Dakota and Missouri avenues. This park contains POW stonework paths, seating areas, a bridge and drainage ditch. Considered to be "some of the most unique POW stonework examples on post. The park is eligible for the NRHP.
Stop 4: Soldier Memorial Chapel. Built in 1962 and located at 450 Iowa Avenue, this chapel was built to serve the needs of the installation's service members during the early years of the Cold War. This 600-seat chapel is still used for multi-denominational services and is eligible for NRHP.
Stop 5: 600 Area Rolling Pin Barracks. Located in the area of West 6th Street and constructed in the early 1960s, they were some of the first major construction of housing for unaccompanied Army trainees after Fort Leonard Wood was designated a permanent installation in 1956. Twenty-three of the structures in this area are part of the Rolling Pin Barracks National Register of Historic Places eligible Historic District.
Stop 6: Building 2101 -- World War II Era Black Officers Club. (Currently under renovation.) This building, located on East 4th Street, was converted into an Officers Club to serve the increasing number of black officers on the installation. The 1945 painting by Staff Sgt. Samuel Countee has been restored and is currently on display at the John B. Mahaffey Museum Complex. Once renovations are complete, the painting is scheduled to be returned to its original place in Building 2101.
Stop 7: Garlington House. Completed in 1941, Garlington House was built as the house for the Engineer Replacement Training Center commander. The building is Located on MP Drive, behind Candlewood Suites. It was converted to a guesthouse in 1965 and is eligible for the NRHP along with its POW stonework paths, chimney, patio and barbeque pit.
Stop 8: Gammon Field. This parade field off of Iowa Avenue has been used as the main post parade field since 1941. The field is named after Staff Sgt. Archer Gammon, Company A, 9th Armored Infantry Battalion, 6th Armored Division, who was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism in World War II. Gammon Field is eligible for the NRHP as a historic military landscape.
Stop 9: Nutter Field House. The field house is located south of Gammon Field on Iowa Avenue and was built in 1942 to provide recreational facilities for the Soldiers. It features a roof truss system that is unusual to these types of facilities and has been renovated with audio-visual capabilities for large functions. This building is named after 2nd Lt. Daniel Nutter, 25th Armored Engineer Battalion, 6th Armored Division, who posthumously received the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism in World War II.
Stop 10: John B. Mahaffey Museum Complex. Completed in 1970 and located at the corner of South Dakota and Nebraska avenues, the building was originally constructed as a service club for Soldiers. The complex houses the Chemical, Engineer and Military Police museums. The complex is open to the general public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Admission is free.
Stop 11: World War II Mobilization Area. This area is across the street from the museum, on Nebraska Avenue, and is open during museum hours. The area is host to restored buildings from a company training area built during World War II and includes a chapel used by black Soldiers who trained on post at the time. It comprises the World War II Temporary Building Historic District and is eligible for the NRHP.
Stop 12: Memorial Grove and Park. Located steps away from the World War II Mobilization Area, it holds memorials from each of Fort Leonard Wood's three branches honoring individual Soldiers and units. The Chemical and Military Police memorials were moved here from Fort McClellan, Alabama, in 1999 when the schools relocated to Fort Leonard Wood. The Memorial Grove and Park are also part of the World War II Temporary Building Historic District and is eligible for the NRHP.
Stop 13: Water Intake. Located off of FLW 25, the water intake plant was constructed in 1941 under the U.S. Army Mobilization Program as a river pumping station pump house to supply water to the installation. The surrounding stonework weir, retaining wall, boat launch and pathways were constructed in 1945 by German POWs. The building, along with its associated POW stonework is eligible for the NRHP.
Stop 14: Miller Cave. The cave can be reached by going right on FLW 25; veering left at the rock quarry and paving area; right onto the dirt road when the pavement ends at a gate marked for Marines. Follow the dirt road until you see signs for Miller Cave. The cave is a great example of a prehistoric Native American shelter. Archeological evidence in Miller Cave identifies inhabitants from 8000 B.C. to 1300 A.D. Allow approximately 30 minutes to walk the path to the cave and exercise caution near the mouth of the cave which opens over a cliff. Miller Cave is eligible for the NRHP.
Stop 15: Rolling Heath School. Located along FLW 25 near the bottom of Water Intake Road and the bridge to the golf course. The school was constructed in 1912 and grades first through eighth were taught here until 1941, when the government appropriated the land that is now Fort Leonard Wood. The building was restored in 1995 and is currently used for natural, cultural, and historical programs and presentations. It is eligible for the NRHP.
Stop 16: Stone Mill Spring. To reach the spring, drive past the golf course on FLW 26, take a right onto the dirt road at the closed bridge, and park at the end of the dirt road. Follow the path through the woods until you reach the spring. The site is name for a historic mill that began operation in the 1840s, and produces more than 16 million gallons of water a day. The spring is stocked with more than 3,000 pounds of rainbow trout per year, making it a popular fishing location. Handicap access is available to this location by contacting the Fort Leonard Wood Natural Resources Branch at 573.596.2814.