Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Jamboree Road

1953 Boy Scout JamboreeJamboree Road is one of the major thoroughfares in Orange County, running from just west of Irvine Lake, all the way south to Pacific Coast Highway.

But it used to be just a gravel road running from the Irvine Ranch Boy Scout Troop 36 Clubhouse, near Irvine Boulevard and Myford Road, down to Newport Beach, about 8 miles of road. It was created in 1953, in preparation for the third National Boy Scout Jamboree held July 17-23, 1953.

The Jamboree was the first ever held west of Mississippi River. It was a big event for Orange County, perhaps one of the key events putting Orange County on the map.

The site of the Jamboree is located where today's Newport Center and Eastbluff communities in Newport Beach now stand.

At the height of the festivities, the Jamboree was a city unto itself. People called it, "Jamboree Town". Peggy Goetz, wrote an article about the Jamboree which appeared in the Irvine World News...

It had a fire company, a bank, a theater, a hospital, a telephone office, a U.S. Post Office, stores and even a zoo. People called it "Tent City" and "Jamboree Town." It had about 50,000 residents living in more than 25,000 tents.
If you know what the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is to the town of Sturgis, South Dakota, the Boy Scout Jamboree had the same significance in Orange County just over 50 years ago. Today, just the name of Jamboree Road is the only living reminder of that event.

Read more about the logistics that went into building and preparing for the 3rd National Boy Scout Jamboree in Peggy's article.

Do you remember the Boy Scout Jamboree? Click on "Post a Comment" below, and share them with us.


  1. I enjoyed my time at the Jamboree with lots of fond memories. I was 15 years old. It was quite a trip out from Ohio on the train. Coming out we came the southern route through Arizona etc. and returned through San Francisco, Utah and Colorado. When we arrived in Orange County at the train station we were given all the oranges we wanted, just to let us know where we were. Particularly I remember that I couldn't see what was going on at the main assemblies and realized that I needed glasses! Have worn them ever since. We swam in both the ocean and the great salt lake. Lots of fun.

  2. The Jamboree and the attraction of California had a major impact on the life of this Texas kid. It was possible to send the kid back to Texas, but not take California from the kid.

    I remeber the smell of the citrus groves when our Scout Special Train stopped in Fullerton.

    After the heat and humidity of a mostly unairconditioned Texas (this was 1953) the dry climate of Irvine Ranch was bracing.

    Standing on a hillside on Irvine Ranch looking down at Newport Beach and Balboa was sublime.

    We were taken all over Orange and Los Angeles Counties in convoys of yellow school busses which were of a type we never saw in Texa, quite posh.

    We boys were made to feel special and honored throughout our tours of Southern California. Hollywood, Knotts Berry Farm (there was no Disneyland yet)swimming at Huntington Beach.

    Thanks for the memories.

    An Old Scout

  3. I also vividly remember the Jamboree. I was just a cub and so I was just a visitor. (My dad took me.) I remember the smellof army oiled canvas tents and that it was in the middle of no where(Then, not now).

  4. The 1953 Jamboree started for this 13 year old upstate NY Scout on a train, our home for all but 10 days out of a 3 week trip of a life time.We saw Chicago, Denver,Salt Lake,Yellowstone,a working ranch etc. Our seats were converted to bunk beds at night( after some modifications in Chicago).I'll never forget all the movie stars and statesmen we met from Roy Rodgers to Richard Nixon. The main arena/ampitheater were mind-boggling as were the extravaganza of spectacular shows which were going on all the time thanks to the huge outpouring of support from Hollywood who were enjoying us as much as we enjoyed them. There is not enough money in the world to duplicate those 10 days now. The return train trip we visited Carlsbad Cavers, Grand Canyon,Reno(it was never the same after they unleashed a whole train full of scouts on the town's slots,casinos,etc where "we did not know we were not allowed".

  5. I was born 1953, but my older brother Johnny Ressegue attended. I still have patches and other items including his letters home. I did get my chance to attand a National Jamboree in 1969. It was held in Idaho.

    William Ressegue
    Now in Palmdale, Ca

  6. AS a parent and youth Scout Leader I am very proud to be involved in Scout Troop 36 located at Old Myford Road in Irvine. The history of Scouts, Irvine and the Jamboree is felt within the scout house and this alone provides an awesome experience to scouts today as the Jamboree did nearly 55 years ago.

    Thanks to all the Scouts before my son, you have paved the road for so many leaders.

    Michael Costello
    Irvine, Ca.

  7. I was twelve years old when I visited the Jamboree at Irvine Ranch for one day. Although I was a Boy Scout, later an Eagle, I wasn't able to be part of our contingent from Bethlehem, PA. But the visit to Irvine Ranch inspired me in many ways. It was a huge and wonderful event. I also experienced California the way is used to be. Wonderful memories.

    Jack J. Lesyk, Ph.D.
    Director, Ohio Center for Sport Psychology, Beachwood, OH

  8. I attended the Boy Scout National Jamboree in 1953.
    No houses, just lots of acreage under cultivation in what was then the Old Irvine Ranch in Orange County, CA.
    At the closing cerermony a candle lighting was held with all the Scouts and Vice President Richard Nixon in attendance.
    Dorothy Lamour Hollywood movie star also visited the Jamboree.
    That was a special event that a 15 year old kid will never forget.
    Good times!

  9. What a wonderful trip that was for a 13-year-old. I still have my Jamboree book, with green tents on its front and back cover. We saw sharks in Newport Bay, swam at the beach with helicopters overhead, took a boat ride around Alcatraz, visited Knob Hill, visited Beverley Hills, Knotts berry farm, when it WAS a berry farm, met Bob Hope, Monty Montana, Roy Rogers, Richard Nixon, and scouts from around the world. It was an experience of this old boy's lifetime. When we were at Irvine Ranch in 1953, there was not a permanent building in sight. How things have changed.
    Vaun Skellenger
    Prescott Valley, AZ

  10. The trip to Irving Ranch was a first for our family. Traveling more than 50 miles from our home in central Texas was unheard of!
    Later I would travel the world but this was a real breakthrough.

    As an added bonus, the father of my North Carolina son-in-law was also at that Jamboree so we had an immediate bond well beyond our common experience as Boy Scouts.

  11. I am the Grandaughter and Niece of my two uncles that all attended the Jamboree in 1953, I have a Pendent that My Grandfather brought home for his Mother - It is gold and reads Mother and off it hangs a gold locket with a pearlized finish and a gold pair of boots - I have always loved it - on the back of the locket it has a boy scout seal with the words National Boy Scout Jamboree 1953 CA... I am so proud to own it and know that my Grandfather was part of such a wonderful organization and was able to take his to sons to experience this event..


  12. I was a member of troop 504 at Trinity Methodist Church, Darlington, SC and my Dad was the scoutmaster. My Father stayed home and paid my way with a small group from the area. We gathered in Florence, SC at the train station and connected with a train load of scouts that went through Atlanta, GA through Texas to California. It was a long, rocky ride with a lot of teasing, playing tricks, trading patches, and buying horned toads from the Texas troups. At Irving Ranch, we used cardboard on the grass hills and got cuts and bruses after long slides. The shows at night were great. I still have the patches and jackets as memories for my grandchildren.

  13. I remember the scout jamboree of 53 very well. Still have a whet stone from that...

  14. It was a great adventure for a boy of 12 and the composite troop from the Sam Houston Area council in Houston. The train ride through the rockies, the royal gorge and the Grand Canyon. I will never forget that summer. The people of Southern California were very generous and donated boats to take us out to Catalina Island. We brought horned frogs (a lizard native to Texas) to trade. I can remember the white dust of the Irvine ranch covering us by the end of the day. Just a great memory!

  15. It was wonderful to read all these comments from people who attended the 1953 jamboree. I was an 11 year old boy from Marshall County, Alabama. We went on 4 buses across the country and camped on military bases along the way. A picture was made of me and a scout from Alaska. I was the shortest scout there and he was the tallest. Wish I had a copy of that picture. It was the trip of a lifetime. I think about it often and share my memories of the trip with my family.

  16. The biggest shock is to go to Google Earth and see what the pasture land that enthralled this 13 year old in 1953 has become today.
    noel funchess, Cleveland, MS

  17. Approximately 300 scouts from KY, OH and WV left on a train from Louisville, KY for a 3 day trip out to the Jamboree. Those of us from Louisville were with a troop from Ft. Knox and the Army supplied much of the equipment we used. On the way out, we stopped in St. Louis, Kansas City and the Grand Canyon. We were met at the train station in CA by girls who gave us oranges. At the Jamboree site we found that the ground was so hard that tent stakes could not be driven in so we "dead maned" the stakes in a small trenches that we dug and poured water in to make "cement" to hold them in. When we broke camp at the end all that we could do was cut the ropes off at the ground level and leave the stakes there. Our troop stayed at the camp site for a few days after the Jamboree and went on side trips to Mt. Palomar, San Juan Capistrano, Huntington Beach, Knott's Berry Farm, etc. On the way home, our train made stops and we did tours in Salt Lake City, Denver, Yellowstone Park. Of course the major shows at the Jamboree are memorable with many Hollywood stars coming.

    I have visited the area in recent years where the Jamboree was held and it is difficult to imagine what it was like in 1953 with dry baked earth and no trees.

  18. I was a 13 year old boy scout from Liberty, Texas, a town of then about 3,000 inhabitants east of Houston, Texas when 30 local scouts (Troop 55) went to the California 1953 Jamboree. We were troop 29, section 33 if I recall right. We went by train west to El Paso Texas (and into Juarez, Mexico) and Grand Canyon before arriving in Los Angeles and seeing the Rose Bowl from a bus I guess as we ended our trip. Some of our Liberty scouts got the mumps and spent most of the Jamboree in the camp hospital where their pictures were in newspapers across the USA showing off their mumps. It was a lot of fun, swimming in the very cold Pacific and seeing the big outdoor shows every night. I still have my neckerchief (shows to be worth about $29 on EBay). In 2003 I realized one day that it was about to be the 50th anniversary of the California 1953 Jamboree, and I contacted the national scouting office to learn that the California scouts were scheduling a reunion and anticipating about 500 participants. I attended the reunion, as did the Jamboree bugler and one of the camp hospital nurses who was able to call one of the Liberty "mumps" scouts by name after 50 years. I wish that there was a Texas or national directory of all the scouts who attended the 1953 California Jamboree. Actually the activities of our troop didn't include a lot of interaction with scouts from other places however. If anyone could create a repository for names and addresses and or Email addresses for scouts, showing where they were from when they attended, I think that would be great. An Email chain letter might be able to build this. The national scout organization might be interested, as an aid in fund raising. The Jamboree was a great experience. I had been back to the area in 1978 and at the reunion was shown the area where possibly my troop camped, which is now part of "Fashion Island" and is all completely built up. Our Liberty scout master was named Bill Rowe who was a perfect and ideal scout master to all of us for the many years that he served as scout master. He is now deceased. Sincerely,
    Dale P. Johnson
    P. O. Box 25301, Dallas
    Texas 75225
    Tel 214-360-1877 work
    214-526-5511 home

  19. In 1953 I attended the National Jamboree at Irvine Ranch as a lad of thirteen. I still have many pleasant memories of that event, the trip out, and the trip back. I still have 1953 Jamboree neckerchiefs and patches that will someday go to my sons and grandchildren.

    My sons (both Eagle Scouts)attended the 1981 Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, VA. I was one of the asst scoutmasters of our area jamboree troop and was with them.

    Today, as I write this, my oldest grandson is at the 2010 Jamboree at Fort A. P. Hill. His dad, my older son, has gone there to "check on" his son. I suspect he also wants to relive some of the great memories from the 1981 Jamboree.

    WOW! What wonderful memories of Boy Scouting!

    I'm an Eagle Scout, a former Webelos leader, a former Scoutmaster, and an electrical engineer,now 70 years of age.

  20. We were the host council the Crescent Bay Area Council and my dad Charles H Wartman was the Chairman. I was in Explorer Post 33 from Beverly Hills and we had special neckerchiefs made of green material with movie stars autographs on them and they went fast in the Swap tents. We lived in a Fort that was constructed by Jim Whitehead., who was a good friend of my dad and provided the labor for building the Mormon Temple on Emerson and Santa Monica. I went to Emerson Jr HS and watched the temple being built. Back to the Jamboree. Vice President Nixon come to our Jamboree. The Navy flight demonstration Blue Angels performed an aerial demonstration for us and were flying the Chance Vaught Cutless F8U, which they did not use for very long as they were really hard to fly in close formation. Jim Wartman

  21. It was one of the great experiences of my teenage years. I have always wanted to see California again but haven't as yet. The train left Union Station in Dallas, Texas with an organized contingent of boys from scout troops from all over the Dallas area. A week going, a week at the Irvine Ranch, and a week coming back let us experience the West as most of us WWII-era kids never had before. In my mind's eye, I can still picture both the inspirational and hilarious scenes we were part of. We learned what it meant to be Texans as many boys from other states singled us out to test our mettle and ended up sorry they did.

    My time as a scout served me well even though I didn't make Eagle. Both my boys did, and I became a Silver Beaver recipient as a Scoutmaster who led our troop to many summer camps and treks to the Philmont Scout Ranch.

  22. Re: 1953 California Jamboree

    My town of Liberty, Texas sent about 30 scouts to the Jamboree in California in 1953. Soon after we got back , a train heading east carrying scouts from Alabama home from the Jamboree stopped in Liberty, as one of the scouts from Birmingham had crashed into a glass window on the moving train and cut his arm pretty badly. He was treated in the Liberty hospital and stayed there in bed for several days. The mothers of the 30 Liberty scouts who had just returned home from the Jamboree descended on the room of the Birmingham scout with home cooked meals and desserts and candy and magazines and games. The scout's parents in Birmingham didn't come to Liberty, as they were assured both by him and the Liberty mothers that he was receiving very good care. I wonder if that scout is alive today and remembers his stop in Liberty, Texas returning from the 1953 Jamboree.

  23. I have a 1953 National Jamboree Irving Ranch Calif Boy Scouts of America Box in near perfect condition. It has the Jamboree seal and the date, 1953 on top of it. It's really cool.

    If anyone here would like to buy it, email me at

  24. My father in law was at that Jamboree as a leader. He was also one of the individuals who helped select that property for the Jamboree and was on the committee that chose the location of the Long Beach Boy Scout Council Camp Tahquitz.

  25. I remember going to the Jamboree. It was so exciting to see all of the scouts from the other countries. Trading was a big thing, so I traded a Japanese scout for a pair of chop sticks and of course he had to teach me how to use them. I don't remember seeing Richard Nixon, but I did see Jack Webb (Sgt Friday on Dragnet), Spade Cooley (an LA county show musician/host). My favorite was Mitzi Gaynor, she was beautiful and only about 20 then. Four of us went together from my troop in Los Angeles, so it wasn't a long trip for us. One of the other scout's dad worked for the LA Examiner, so we (four) got our picture on the front page of the Examiner. We were raising/installing the "mission" bell for our area. We were called the 49ers.

  26. I was 15 years old in 1953 and attended the Jamboree - the only one from my scout troop in Seattle. It was my first time away from home without any family with me. It was a very memorable experience. I still can see the huge bins of oranges where we could help ourselves to all we wanted. I remember the shows at night where many Hollywood actors generously gave of their time to be with us. I guess that was a different era - when the stars appreciated their fans. I still remember a hand shake from Roy Rogers and a hug from a young Debbie Reynolds.


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