From its humble beginning as a collection of state militias, the United States military has grown into the world’s foremost fighting force. Over its nearly two-and-a-half-century history, the U.S. military has evolved into a modern institution that bears little resemblance to its origins. Still, some vestiges of the past remain.
Dozens of military bases and installations throughout the country are steeped in history, dating back 100 years or more. Many bases predate the Civil War and some are nearly as old as the country itself. Often expanding over time, some of these bases rank among the largest military installations in the country and have a considerable impact on the economy and the identity of their surrounding communities.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed and independently verified the history of active military installations listed on MilitaryBases.com to identify America’s oldest military bases. Bases were ranked by the year in which they opened. Base personnel counts, which include dependents of the service members stationed there, came from the 2016 Demographics Report, compiled by Defense Department contractor Military OneSource. Installations outside the 50 states were not considered.
The majority of active military bases in the United States were built in the first half of the 20th century, before and during the first and second world wars. All of the bases on this list opened in either the 18th or 19th centuries. Almost all are used by either the Army or the Navy, and the two bases on this list now used by the Air Force — the newest service branch — were initially built as Army installations. Most of these bases are located in older states, east of the Mississippi River.