City chips in $1,000 for Rifle Range historical marker

Published 11:37 am Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Camp Williamson, a former Mississippi National Guard rifle range, might soon receive state recognition.

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday approved contributing $1,000 toward installing a state historical marker on U.S. 61 South recognizing the 105-year-old National Guard training site on Rifle Range Road.

The money is part of an interlocal agreement between the city and Warren County to fund the marker. George Cronia, a retired National Guard brigadier general and one of the people pushing for the marker, said it is expected to cost between $1,700 and $2,000.

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Warren County administrator John Smith said the Board of Supervisors has not approved its $1,000 contribution toward the marker.

“This a two-part process,” Cronia said. “I need to get the paperwork to the state Department of Archives and History by Friday for them to approve it, and the city and county to provide the money.”

The Board of Supervisors met Tuesday, but did not address the issue.

Land for the 60-acre range was bought and donated to the state by the citizens of Vicksburg in 1907. It had 20 targets and was named in honor of Judge Advocate Gen. C.M. Williamson of the Mississippi National Guard, who was the first person to fire in the range’s inaugural tournament in November 1907.

The range was used to train Guard members in World War I, and might have been used during part of World War II.

Vicksburg lawyer Lucius Dabney recalled that his father was a member of a World War I Guard unit that trained at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg and went to Camp Williamson to shoot.

Cronia said the range might have been used early in World War II, but added there was insufficient documentation to verify that.

“It was a good range; it had good concrete abutments and pits,” he said.

The range was closed in July 1953, when the state conveyed back to Warren County part of the site for road improvements, and to then-Spencer Chemical a larger parcel for industrial use.