Camp Bowie 1918, Preliminary Visualization

Looking north-west, toward Rivercrest and the West Fork of the Trinity River

Here’s a preliminary 3D model of my work for the Military Museum of Fort Worth. You can see the approximate locations (accurate to within a meter) of all the camp buildings, circa 1919, superimposed on the familiar Google Streets layer for contemporary Fort Worth.

A new model will fill in the trench that is perceptible when looking east down I30.

I will do further work to fill in the I30 trench in the digital elevation model. I plan to use the USGS LiDAR point cloud for North Texas to improve the precision of the underlying model and perform a TIN interpolation to fill in the trench, working from period contours. Final rendering to be done in Sketchup, skinned from period photography.

If you’re in the DFW area, you could do no better than to discover the local military heritage and history delivered by this gem of a museum. Like every good museum in Fort Worth (Amon Carter and Kimbell Art Museums) it is found right off Seventh Street. Also note that this realization was accomplished with data from Tarrant County Archives, NARA, FW Public Library and the collections of private individuals.

Click for a manipulable model.

Camp Bowie, 1917

My hometown, Fort Worth, Texas. Well, the west side of town, anyway.

You would think I would know my way around after forty some-odd years. The above was the most difficult georeferencing project I’ve done. I grew up in the woody part to the north west. If you look at period photographs of Fort Worth there aren’t any trees, however. There are barely any houses. Only a few of the stately homes survive. The only vestige of Camp Bowie (1917-18) that I can remember was, perhaps, the Prevost Street water tank, which was taken down around 1995. It’s a parking lot now, but locals will remember the place for the news stand that used to be there called “Under the Tower.” It used to be the only place on the west side of town (or anywhere in town?) you could buy an edition of the New York Times or Le Monde.

The project is to create a 3D visualization of the army camp which was created to train the 36th Infantry Division for France after its withdrawal from the Mexican border in 1916. It is challenging because all of the streets in Fort Worth were dirt back then. What permanency persists in the road grid owes to the cadastral parcels. Interstate 30 cuts right through the middle. All the streets that were laid on a parallel azimuth to Camp Bowie Boulevard (then Arlington Heights Boulevard) are gone. It is interesting to imagine my high school’s playing field serving as a parade ground for the 141st Infantry Regiment.

Read Right Up

Visualization of the area of operations for 2/357 Infantry Regiment, 12-15 June 1944. Click through for a manipulable 3D view.


Here are the points of interest for the field visit to Gourbesville. Pushing them to my GPS unit I realize how much work went into pulling this information together. And how much time I’ve spent looking at this odd little corner of Normandy. There were so many sources consulted just to pull together this handful of POIs. Only last year did I come across a hen’s tooth — a facsimile of the divisional G2 report for 357IR’s sector. So I’ve been able to draw in two German lines of resistance. I note this accords with GEN William DePuy’s remark about the German defenses being oriented toward the south east. Which is interesting for at least two reasons. First, 2/357IR did not come up against 1057/91 Luftlanding division’s center of gravity. Not nearly. The first battalion of 357 did go down into that valley to the west of Amfreville and DePuy was there to witness their failure, an event which informed his later activities as creator and commander of TRADOC. Secondly, 91 Luft retired in relatively good order, if greatly reduced. By 14 June 90ID G2 reports capturing prisoners from 920, -21, and -22/243ID who were presumably able to conduct a relief in place in spite of the attentions of the entire 90ID falling upon them.

Oh, we’ll be staying about 300 meters north of the German mortar positions marked on the map. I’m hoping they won’t keep me up.

Sèves St. German, Catchment Basins

Catchments prior to calculating flood plain. Using QGIS/GRAS, SRTM30 DEM, and OSM as stream centerline.
Catchments prior to calculating flood plain. Using QGIS/GRAS, SRTM30 DEM, and OSM as stream centerline. Click through to a manipulable 3D model.

Taking out a little time to look at Grass GIS. The objective here is to do a simple (heh-heh) floodplain map for Sèves St. Germain. These are the catchment basis as calculated from SRTM30 data via QGIS/GRASS, which will serve as a basis (I hope) for a flow model. Downstream is to the north east (right in the static image. Here’s a 3D model.)

So why does an historian, even an amateur one care about land areas contributing to runoff toward a given flow? Well, this is the terrain that first and second battalions of 358IR attacked across. The plan called for crossing tanks, only there was a pretty big rainstorm in the evening. The crossing was already contested and the water high, but should have been possible the following morning. If I can track down divisional G2 meteorological information from 1944, I should be able to feed it into the model and come up with a better visualization of exactly how high the water was.

Lots of caveats here. The SRTM was taken in the 1990s and the streambed has probably changed a bit since. Metaled (paved) roads are now the norm, which changes the flow coefficients. But enough. I just want a better idea of how high the water was back then. And it is keeping with my design objective to bring as much data to this design as I can.

Le Bourg St. Léonard in 3D

POV ~50m above positions of 1/A/359 along the first axis of the 3 SS PzGr's attack.
POV ~50m above positions of 1/A/359 along the first axis of the 3 SS PzGr’s attack.
Playtest scenario. Developer Brendan Clark's 3 SS PzGr pushes back the US line.
Playtest scenario, depiction of same area. Developer Brendan Clark’s 3 SS PzGr pushes back the US line.

Click through to a manipulable 3D visualization of Le Bourg St. Léonard, the fourth battle in From the Ground Up. Terrain relief is exaggerated 30m SRTM data. The building footprints are from Open Street Map before I visually compared them with my field notes and the 1947 aerial survey photo of the IGN. The Z height of the buildings is a database merge based on my field notes and an aerial photo from 1944. This is a very preliminary model. Later on, I’ll tease out polygons for the ground cover and assign heights when I next have some time to devote to making further progress in QGIS.  For the moment, I’m hammering out artillery and campaign rules.