World War I military balloon camp once sat in modern day Olmos Park

Soldiers were trained at Camp John Wise to spot air artillery

OLMOS PARK, Texas – Olmos Park, known for its stately and quiet environment, got its name from Olmos Creek. 

Olmos translates to "elm tree" in English.  

While the history behind the name is a simple find, the city's connection with World War I is often forgotten.   

"It's something that's gone down the byways of history," said Jacqueline Davis, director of the Fort Sam Houston Museum.  "It's just something that's gotten lost."

In 1917, Camp John Wise, a well-known military balloon school, sat where Olmos Park does today. The training installation used hot air balloons to train soldiers for the world war.

"It gave them eyes in the sky," Davis said. 

Thousands of men were trained at the camp to spot artillery from high in the sky.  

"It made them big targets for the other guy's artillery and the other guy's airplane, as it turns out, and so it was a pretty dangerous job," Davis said.

About the Author: