Camp Ellis was once a World War II Army Training Center. A Decision Document was finalized in 2016 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Louisville District at the former camp located near Table Grove, Illinois. Remedial Actions were awarded in 2017 to possibly include vegetation clearance, digital and analog metal detector surveys, excavation of detected objects, and disposal of munition and other munitions-related items. The Aircraft Bombing Area (Area D) and Obstacle Area (Area M) are the main focus. Field effort is scheduled between January 2018 and May 2018.
Congress established the Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) Program in 1986 managed by USACE to clean up properties that were formerly owned, leased, possessed, or used by the Army, Navy, Air Force, or other defense agencies.
The Louisville District manages the Former Camp Ellis FUDS project by working with private contractors to perform the investigation and clean-up.
As part of the FUDS Program, USACE conducted an investigation between 2000 and 2006 to confirm the presence of munitions and characterize the extent of contamination in the area. Twenty-three sites were investigated during the investigation and munitions were found in two areas near Bernadotte. The investigation report recommended thorough munitions removal activities in these areas and public education for the community. The removal actions were completed in 2009.
The Former Camp Ellis project is designed to reduce the risk of munitions and potential for human exposure to hazardous waste. A second objective of the project is to determine any other areas that were not included in the original investigation that may need to be investigated.
Camp Ellis was established as a World War II Army Training Center in 1943. Camp Ellis provided basic training and advanced unit training for engineer, medical corps, signal corps, and quartermaster troops. About 125,000 troops trained at the camp during the war. A Prisoner of War (POW) camp for 2,500 German and Austrian soldiers was later added to the reservation. Training at Camp Ellis reached its peak in June 1944; during this time, it sent units to the European and Pacific theaters. The engineer group stationed at Camp Ellis was disbanded in January 1945 and training that was conducted at the base by other units ended soon thereafter. The camp remained open, however, and its primary mission was changed to guarding the POWs. Some of the land that made up Camp Ellis was leased back to the local farmers as early as 1945. The camp was declared surplus in October 1945.
In April 1946, the War Department decided to keep Camp Ellis open as an Army Ground Forces training center. The Army National Guard used about 850 acres of the camp from 1946 until 1950 for equipment storage and small arms training. Only small arms were fired at Camp Ellis during the period that the Army National Guard used the camp.
In the early 1950s, the Air Force used parts of the camp for survival training. Between 1954 and 1955, the General Services Administration (GSA) sold the property at auction back to private landowners. The installation was used for numerous types of weapons and munitions training operations.