The RELLIS Campus site owns a proud and diverse history dating back more than 75 years. Under a variety of names, the venue, north of the Brazos River and west of the City of Bryan, has played a key role both in protecting the nation during wartime and forging advancements in scientific understanding.
Learn more about the storied past of the property by visiting the RELLIS Recollections website or by purchasing RELLIS Recollections – 75 Years of Learning, Leadership, and Discovery, a hardback book with the complete history. Available for purchase via the Texas A&M University Press.
The 2,000-acre tract of land, mostly cotton fields surrounding the small, unincorporated community of Riverside, became the Bryan Army Air Field in response to the U.S.‘s entry into World War II. During just over two years of wartime service as an Advanced Flying School, the post specialized in developing instrument-only flight training. In addition, more than 1,000 Women Air Service Pilots were stationed at the base.
At war’s end, the field was deactivated and turned over to the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas to accommodate the influx of veterans returning to school on the nation’s new G.I. Bill. For the next five years, Aggie freshmen were housed at what was called “The Annex.”
With the outbreak of hostilities on the Korean Peninsula in the early 1950s, the base was reactivated under the auspices of the U.S. Air Force. Bryan Air Force Base became a jet-pilot training facility. Among its bevy of instructors were two young captains, Edwin “Buzz”Aldrin and Virgil Grissom, who, as NASA astronauts, would later become aerospace pioneers.
Five years after the end of the Korean War, the base was declared surplus and sat mostly idle until ultimately being leased to Texas A&M in 1962. Terms of the lease stipulated the school would receive full ownership of the property, infrastructure and improvements at no cost if productive use was made of the venue over the next 20 years. Over the next two decades, the site came to be known as the A&M Research Annex and hosted a vast number of scientific studies and partnerships with outside business ventures.
With full ownership transferred to the university, the venue was re-christened as the Riverside Campus in 1988. As such, it became the research home of numerous University and System-related ventures, including the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.