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Camp Merritt Memorial Monument

Features

  1. Historic Site
Camp Merritt Memorial Monument marks the center of an important World War I embarkation camp, where more than one million U.S. soldiers passed through on their way to and from the battlefields of Europe.

In August 1919, Bergen County purchased land for the monument at the intersection of Madison Ave. and Knickerbocker Road in Cresskill. Modeled after the Washington Monument, the memorial is a 65 feet high granite obelisk. On the base are the names of the 578 people who died in the camp, mostly as a result of the 1918 worldwide influenza epidemic. A large carved relief by the sculptor Robert Ingersoll Aitkin (1878-1949) shows a striding "doughboy" with an eagle flying overhead. Set into a large boulder is a copper plaque with a relief of the Palisades, illustrating that Camp Merritt was used as an area for embarkation, designed by the artist Katherine Lamb Tait. In the ground is a three-dimensional stone carving of the map of Camp Merritt.

The Camp Merritt Monument was dedicated on May 30, 1924. General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing gave the dedicatory address to a crowd of 20,000 people.

Camp Merritt, located midway between Cresskill and Dumont and 12 miles from Hoboken, received its first soldiers in October 1917. Originally called "Camp Tenafly," and covering an area that included Cresskill, Demarest, Dumont, Haworth and Tenafly, it was eventually named for Civil War officer General Wesley Merritt. Little publicity surrounded the camp as it was deemed vitally important to keep troop movements a secret. The soldiers would march with their heavy packs and supplies to the trains or over the Palisades to the Hudson River to boats that would take them to their European-bound ships docked in Hoboken.

The camp was 770 acres in size and had a capacity of 42,000 men. It was strategically built near major rail lines, facilitating the transport of soldiers to the camp. It contained 1,300 buildings of all varieties. The base hospital had a staff of 300 nurses who treated 55,000 sick men. 8,000 men representing forty different nationalities were nationalized in the Camp and made citizens of the U.S. The last soldier passed through Camp Merritt in the beginning of 1920.