Fort Ritchie (1926-1998) - A Cold War Fort established in 1926 near Cascade, Washington County, Maryland. First named Camp Albert C. Ritchie after Maryland Governor Albert C. Ritchie. Renamed Fort Ritchie circa 1951. Abandoned in 1998.
Established in 1926 as a Maryland National Guard training camp. Federalized in 1942 during WWII and used as a Military Intelligence Training Center. The Military Intelligence Training Center (MITC) was activated on 19 Jun 1942 and trained 19,600 intelligence troops before it closed in 1945.
Concurrent with MITC training, Camp Ritchie housed German and Italian POWs, mostly Africa Corps Officers and Italians captured during the 1942 invasion of North Africa (Operation Torch).
After the War, Camp Ritchie was involved with a top-secret effort known as 'The Hill Project' in which German POWs worked directly with Allied forces to conduct research on a number of postwar issues. Only 150 POWs worked directly on the Hill Project, many of them high ranking members of the Wehrmacht, it is estimated that by March 1946, over 1500 POWs were at Ritchie and actively involved in the Project.
In 1950, President Truman approved making nearby Raven Rock part of Camp Albert A. Ritchie. In 1951 the Army reactivated the post and named it Fort Ritchie with the primary mission of supporting the new Site R Alternate Joint Communications Center (AJCC). Construction of the hardened underground facility began in 1951, and in 1953 it became operational. From 1961 throughout the rest of the Cold War the Site R facilities operated around the clock and did not revert to a normal schedule until 1 Feb 1992. Estimates of the site capacity ranged from 3,000 to 5,000 people for extended periods when fully buttoned up and locked down.
The 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Commission determined that Fort Ritchie could be shut down without jeopardizing the ongoing mission of the Alternate Joint Communications Center at Site R. Fort Detrick, 20 miles South of Site R, became the new support base and found itself searching for the space and funds to support some 1200 more personnel. Support for Raven Rock Mountain Complex transferred to Fort Detrick on 1 Oct 1997. Fort Ritchie closed in 1998 under the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Commission.