State Historic Site

Trail End

Camp Lewis, till a short time ago known as American Lake, is in the center of a government reservation of 150 square miles. Up till a matter of four months ago, it was nothing much more than a wilderness, and there is still a good deal of timber around the edges, but now there is what you might call a good sized city here, laid out in well kept streets with electric lights at every corner. All the comforts of home, you know, and all that sort of thing. 


It covers a territory of about two by three and a half miles, and as far as you can see there is nothing but row after row of the contract barracks that are two story affairs with ruberoid roofing on them and built along the principles of a big barn. However, this country never gets so very cold, they say, and as long as the roof does not leak, we will be comfortable. Each of these barracks is supposed to house a whole company, and there are about 300 of them. Altogether, though, there are 900 buildings on the cantonment which includes stables, warehouses, exchanges and Y. M. C. A. buildings.


There is a base hospital here too which will accommodate 6,000 patients. It is a wonderful affair laid out in a series of small buildings, each one of which is a ward, and the whole thing is connected by porches. The principle of the whole thing was to be able to isolate any ward at any time by merely shutting the door and thereby prevent the spreading of any contagious disease. I had to go over there the other night to see a fellow, and I like to never go out of the place.


It is rather funny to watch the expressions on the faces of the boys as they get off the trains are are immediately herded into a big roped-in space like so many cattle. Then they are sent down aisles one by one, and they each give their name and are checked off the list. Their qualifications are taken and then they are given a meal and a temporary place to sleep. About the next day they are attached to companies and are put to work either in the kitchen or around the barracks "policing up." They are also given drills of different sorts and the most of them seem to snap into it like they cared for it. ‚Äč

(From "In the World War")

Letters Home - Paren J. Shickley

Born in Nebraska in 1894, ParenJ. Shickley came to Sheridan shortly after 1910. His father was a railroad ticket agent who also operated a small mine near Kooi, Wyoming.


Before the war Shickley was associated with Shickley Brothers Real Estate in Ranchester, and worked as an assistant bank cashier in Sheridan. He enlisted in the Army on June 13, 1917 and was assigned to the 316th Engineers, with whom he served until  discharged in May 1919. 


After the war, Shickley worked briefly at banks in Buffalo and Thermopolis, Wyoming. By 1930, he was still in Thermopolis, but was woefully unemployed. He soon took up the mantle of traveling salesman in the Pacific Northwest, dying in Portland in September 1935. He is buried in Thermopolis. 


Like many soldiers from Sheridan, Shickley went to basic training at Camp Lewis, Washington. In this undated letter, published in The Sheridan Post in October 1917, Shickley describes the base during its early days.