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Where Patton prepared for North Africa in Southern California.

Four-star general and controversial hero of World War 11, Gen. George S. Patton is the focus of a new museum in the California desert. The museum opened in November on the original site of Camp Young, headquarters for Patton's Desert Training Center.

The museum's centerpiece is the Big Map. Donated by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), it's a 5-ton topographical wonder depicting in exquisite detail 50,000 square miles around the Colorado River. It pinpoints 11 divisional training camps-in Arizona, California, and Nevada. These bases trained men and tested equipment for combat in the North African campaign.

Used to plot the route of the 242-milelong Colorado River Aqueduct, the Big Map was constructed for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) in 1927. Ten people labored for 10 months to construct the 250,000 pieces of fiberboard that make up the map. Then, in 1930, the pieces were transported to Washington, D.C., to educate Congress and help raise funds for the aqueduct. Once displayed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Science and Industry, the map had been in mothballs at the MWD's La Verne plant since 1984.

Other exhibits tell the story of life in the training camps. A diorama showing tents, uniforms, cots, mess kits, and other artifacts is being installed; videos tell the stories of the men who served with Patton. And the Bureau of Land Management helped compile an extensive collection of related letters, films, and tapes.

Joseph Chiriaco, a former DWP surveyor who worked on the aqueduct, donated the land for the museum. And volunteers are working with the BLM to preserve the history of the center and its trainees. If you have relevant documents or other materials you'd like to donate (or funds you'd like to contribute), call (619) 2273227 or (714) 877-5077.

The museum is open from 9 to 5 daily. Admission is by donation. From Interstate 10 about 28 miles east of Indio, exit north at Chiriaeo Summit; the museum is on the left.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:George S. Patton is focus of new museum in the California desert
Date:Feb 1, 1989
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