Located west of Highway 271 just eight miles north of Paris, Texas, Camp Maxey began as a World War II training camp. Today, Camp Maxey is a Texas Army National Guard training facility. The camp sits on the banks of the Pat Mayse Lake. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the lake for flood control in 1967 and now operates the lake as a recreation area. It includes 200 camping sites, complete with water, electricity and restrooms. Facilities include swimming beaches, boating, and fishing. The 15,000-acre area also includes public hunting areas for upland game and whitetail deer.
The U.S. Army used the camp, named in honor of Confederate General and later U.S. Senator Samuel Bell Maxey, from 1942 to 1945 to train infantry soldiers heading to fight in Europe during World War II. The 36,682-acre camp included a mock German village with buildings named Gestapo or Himmler, among others, and decorated with Nazi Swastikas. In an era before electronic targets, camp designers used an ingenious arrangement of ropes and pulleys to pop silhouette targets up in windows and doorways to add authenticity and realism to the village training area. The camp’s obstacle course used challenging barbed wire barriers and small dynamite charges to simulate artillery explosions. The camp had varied terrain perfect for infantry maneuvers. In total, the camp had a capacity to train about 45,000 soldiers. Additionally, the camp served as one of the thirty-three internment camps for German prisoners of war captured in North Africa.
The camp provided some 10,000 civilian jobs to area residents. Women's groups in Paris created the “Maxey Command” committee to host dances for the soldiers and the citizens of Paris graciously organized many recreational activities to support the troops and the war effort. The Texas Army National Guard has operated the site since the mid-1940s. In 2008, the citizens of Paris again rose to support their troops when the Guard announced it would train soldiers heading for the war in Iraq at the camp.