Title: Fort Oglethorpe book details history of base, town
Author: Andy Johns
Publisher: chattanooga Times Free Press
Parades, prisoners of war and polo matches are all highlighted in a new book about Fort Oglethorpe's history.
The book, co-written by Gerry Depken and Julie Powell and released Monday, features photos and anecdotes from the Catoosa County town's history. Among the 220 photos are shots of Bing Crosby, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt, all visiting troops.
Both authors said the 128 pages fill an important niche in local history.
"There was information on the 6th Cavalry, there's information on the Civil War, but nothing on Fort Oglethorpe," said Ms. Powell, innkeeper at the Captain's Quarters Bed and Breakfast on Barnhardt Circle.
In its heyday, the fort was known as the "West Point of Medicine" with some of the U.S. Army's first M.A.S.H. units, according to Ms. Depken, chairwoman of the Fort Oglethorpe Preservation Commission. It also was one of the first bases with a female commandant, she said.
"There are so many people that move in and out of Fort Oglethorpe and Catoosa County and don't even know there was a fort here," Ms. Depken said.
Both women said they culled through a couple thousand photos to make the book. The research involved trips to the National Archives in College Park, Md., and plenty of interviews with area residents.
The stories they heard from locals were the highlight of the research, and both women said they would do the whole process over again "in a heartbeat."
"People here just opened their hearts and their albums," Ms. Powell said.
Ms. Powell and Ms. Depken also asked that anyone who can identify people in the book's photos or anyone with additional information for captions to contact them to further the research.
Toward the end of the book, the authors included current photos of old buildings and documented the buildings' original uses. It's all about keeping the area's history fresh on the minds of present residents.
"This is what makes our town different from any other," Ms. Depken said.