Camp Tyson

On August 15, 1941, the announcement was made that Routon, Tennessee had been chosen as the site for the new barrage balloon training center, the only Army post of its kind in America. Construction began September 4, 1941.

Paris and all of Henry County soon became jammed to capacity with workmen. At the peak of employment, a total of almost 8,000 persons were engaged in erecting the camp. This labor peak was reached around Christmas time and then began to diminish until construction was completed, March 14, 1942. On this day, R. H. Hunt Company, Architect/Engineer and Rock City Strider Construction Company turned the base over to the U. S. Army.

During the peak construction, streams of automobiles formed a solid line along the seven miles between Paris and Tyson at 6:00 A.M. and again at 4:00 P.M. when the work shift was released.

Not a single death was recorded in the construction of the camp and the loss of the arm of one worker was the only major accident that occurred on the project. Camp Tyson, Tennessee, home of the B.B.T.C., was named after Brig. General Lawrence David Tyson of Tennessee, World War I fame.

The original reservation consisted of an area of government-owned land containing a total of 1,680 acres. It was approximately 1.5 miles wide, north and south, and 2.5 miles long, east and west. As finally developed, the contonment area (housing, service and supply, hospital and training center facilities) utilized about 900 acres. Camp Tyson was developed primarily for the training of units of the Coast Artillery Corps assigned to activities connected with the use of barrage balloons, as an arm of defense against attack by enemy military aircraft.

The original camp provided quarters for 535 officers and 8,356 enlisted men. Total cost of the original Camp Tyson was $11,708,640. The 75-foot flagpole on the parade ground was $2,754.

On Friday, February 13, 1942, Company B, 302nd Battalion sent aloft the first balloon at Camp Tyson. Brig. General John B. Maynard, U. S. Army, former commander of Camp Wallace, Texas, arrived at Tyson, February 16, 1942, and assumed command.

As an arm of defense, the balloons were never successful. They had a very short life, and of no value what-so-ever. After high level bombing and the Nordon Bomb Site came into use, the balloons became obsolete. Camp Tyson then became a staging area for troops going overseas, and also as a prisoner of war camp for German prisoners captured in North Africa.

The Army Base came to an end May 1947 when it was purchased by H.C. Spinks Clay Company, a partnership company owned by R. B. Carothers, Sr., Harriett Carothers, R. B. Carothers, Jr., and Harry S. Carothers. They purchased approximately 1300 acres from War Assets. After the purchase of the property, H.C. Spinks' headquarters was moved from northern Kentucky to Spinks, Tennessee.