Tanks and WWI camps: The hidden history of the Raleigh Rose Garden
Visitors may not realize that before the Raleigh Rose Garden was filled with roses, it was filled with WWI tanks.Posted — Updated
The second site of the NC State Fairgrounds
Even today, the ghost of the State Fairground's old racetrack can be seen in the oval footprint of the rose garden and theatre.
Camp Polk WWI Army Tank School
During WWI, Raleigh became a national training ground for soldiers, with Camp Polk setting up an Army Tank School at the second location of our NC State Fairgrounds--which later became the rose garden.
Evidently, the terrain of the land around the fairgrounds was ideal for practicing maneuvers in military tanks.
The military gained use of the grounds and buildings with a lease that began in 1918.
Old photos show the temporary camp site filled with tents for the soldiers. The site also had classrooms and barracks. Photos also show military tanks rolling over a landscape of steep hills and dirt--an unusual sight to envision on the same land that now brings whimsical flowers and theatre shows to Raleigh.
A live exploration of the rose garden and theatre
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