Stories of Camp Forrest, Florida land boom in new books

Wednesday, November 27, 2019
In the 1920s, a land boom took place in Florida. That story is told in the new book “Late To The Party In The Roaring ‘20s And That Tropical Paradise Called Florida,” by Robert Yost and Patricia Yost.
Submitted photo

If you're looking for a gift for the history lover in your family, two new books shine a light on 20th Century history that touches on Bedford County and the area.

"Voices of Camp Forrest In World War II," by Dr. Elizabeth Taylor, tells the story of the military base located in Coffee and Franklin counties, at the site that today is part of Arnold Air Force Base/Arnold Engineering Development Complex.

"Late To The Party In The Roaring '20s And That Tropical Paradise Called Florida," by Robert Yost and Patricia Yost, tells the story of Florida's boom, including the Dixie Highway, which carried many vacationers -- and those hoping to relocate -- south, passing right through Shelbyville. The newly-popular Model T was giving Americans a mobility they'd never enjoyed before, and that included the possibility of traveling south in search of warmer climates (or greater prosperity).

An Indiana millionaire, Carl G. Fisher, cobbled together local routes running from Michigan south to Miami and promoted them as "The Dixie," with a red stripe and white signposts guiding travelers south. The route included what is now U.S. 231 from Murfreesboro to Shelbyville, and what is now U.S. 41A from Shelbyville to Tullahoma.

"Late To The Party In The Roaring '20s" focuses on Ralph Yost, a salesman who gave up his successful business in the north to jump into the Florida land boom in 1925 -- even though he knew nothing about real estate. When the land boom went bust, Yost found himself stranded in the Sunshine State.

"Voices of Camp Forrest in World War II," featuring dozens of historic photos, tells the story of the military base that played several different roles during World War II. It served as a training base, and more than 250,000 soldiers received their initial physical exams at Camp Forrest. German and Italian prisoners of war were kept there. The camp was also a key asset supporting Gen. George Patton's training maneuvers with the 2nd Armored Division in southern Middle Tennessee.

Taylor, who maintains the website, has numerous interviews and stories in the book documenting what life was like on the base and in Tullahoma while the base was in wartime operation.

"Voices of Camp Forrest in World War II" is published by Arcadia Publishing/The History Press. More information is available at

The Dixie Highway ran through Shelbyville, as shown on this map, and many travelers to Florida passed through the city in the route’s heyday, prior to the age of Interstate highways.

"Late To The Party In The Roaring '20s" is published by Pineapple Press, an imprint of the Globe Pequot Trade division of Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group. More information about the book is available at

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