This camp was later to become an important water and grazing place for pioneers crossing the Mojave Desert during California's settlement and gold rush.
The California Gold Rush brought prosperous trade and unexpected trouble to the area.
Fort Irwin works within the R-2508 Special Use Airspace Complex.The 2010 United States census reported Fort Irwin's population was 8,845.From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, the area began to grow tremendously as mining operations of all types flourished.Soon railroads, workers, and businesses led to the establishment of the nearby town of Barstow.During his travels, he noted several small bands of Indians and is believed to have been the first European to make contact with the Native Americans of this area.
Jedediah Smith is thought to have been the first American to explore the area in 1826.
During the Vietnam buildup, many units, primarily artillery and engineer, trained and deployed from Fort Irwin. June 1985 saw the first use of M1 Abrams tanks and later in the fall of 1985 saw the M2 Bradley fighting vehicles on the National Training Center battlefield.
In January 1971, the post was deactivated again and placed in maintenance status under the control of Fort Mac Arthur (Los Angeles), California. The first armored cavalry squadron rotation occurred in November 1984.
Since its activation, the National Training Center has witnessed many firsts. The first combined Light/Mechanized Infantry rotation took place in February 1990; the 7th Infantry Division (Light) from Fort Ord and the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) from Fort Stewart, Georgia participated.
The first units to train against the Opposing Force (OPFOR) at the NTC were from among others the 3rd Battalion 67th Armor 2nd Armored Division from Fort Hood Texas operation named TASK FORCE IRWIN III, 1 Aug - 14 Sept 1979.. The first MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) mission was conducted at the National Training Center Pioneer Training Facility in December 1993. Army Reserve and Army National Guard would support infantry roles for the OPFOR.
The Fort Irwin area has a history dating back almost 15,000 years, when Native Americans of the Lake Mojave Period were believed to live in the area.