Posts Tagged ‘Base’

The Changing of the Guard — Hiking Manchester’s Former Nike Base

Posted: February 17, 2015 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Baseball Field, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Forts, abandoned military bases, abandoned new england, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Birds, Bolton, Broken, Children, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, fire, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Fortress, Forts, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, House, Information, left behind, lost, Manchester, Manchester CT, Military, Military Forts, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, Nike Missile Base, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, State Parks, Stories, The Walking Dead, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Changing of the Guard

Hiking Manchester’s Former Nike Base

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

We have visited quite a few former military installations across New England over the last few years. Most people find it hard to believe that there are so many sites out there left abandoned by the military, but they are out there. You just have to look a little harder for them. Some are simply hiding right under the public’s noses. We have covered abandoned coastal fortresses in Rhode Island, deserted Air Force bases in Massachusetts, and of course the decaying Nike Missile bases in Connecticut. Here in our home in the Nutmeg state, the Nike Missile bases are some of the more iconic and well known abandoned places. We have explored most of the Nike Missile bases that are still standing across the state. Most have become lost and forgotten sites, falling victims to nature’s fury and mankind’s neglect. But a few of these sites have found salvation through resurrection.

During the most vicious years of the Cold War, there were at one time hundreds of Nike Missile sites all over the country. Some of these bases were even established in Europe. There were at least twelve known in the state of Connecticut. Most of these sites were coastal or along the Connecticut River. Others were in place as a defense for the city of Hartford. First established in 1945 as a project for the US Army, the Nike Missile sites were created as a new form of defense against aerial attacks on the United States homeland. By the mid-1950’s, there were sites in almost every state in the union. But also around this time, technology began to develop. The Army was moving forward with more advanced forms of missile defense, and Nike slowly became obsolete. It wasn’t long until the project came to end.

With most sites being a part of active military bases, their shutdown was not a big deal. Some shutdown sites were demolished. Others were donated. But a few were simply left to rot. See our write-up on Portland’s Nike Missile base here (https://abandonedwonders.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/sound-the-bugle/). On an early spring weekend, we decided to visit another former Nike Missile base in Manchester, Connecticut. The base was in operation between the years of 1956-1961. When the site was decommissioned by the United States military in the early 1960’s, the site was returned to the town of Manchester. Over the next few years, the town began to make use of the property by turning it into a recreational area. All of the missile launch pads have been removed, and most of the old buildings are still standing. The site is known today as the Nike Site Recreation Area.

Finding the site is no problem. Just google it. It is in close proximity to a few nicer residential neighborhoods in Manchester, not too far from the Glastonbury town line. A large and well maintained sign will welcome you to the area, as opposed to the armed guards that once protected this place. When entering the park, the main road will take you right into the heart of the former base. All of the buildings still stand, and there is ample parking. Though most of the buildings appear to be abandoned, they are not. One of the older buildings has been converted into ballet studio. Another one is now a preschool/daycare, with a brightly colored playground outside. All of the other buildings appear to be used just for storage. One is rumored to be a shooting range, but we found no such evidence to confirm this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even though they are still in use, the buildings all look abandoned. A lot of the windows are boarded up and they are not in the best of shape. One building even has white hand prints scattered all along its outer wall, though we would guess this is from the preschool from across the lot. Standing right behind the old buildings is a baseball diamond. Though it was not in use while we there, it is clearly maintained. There were actually a good number of people here when we visited, but they were all congregated in the main area of the base. In order to get a real glimpse of the former site, you have to do some walking. There are a clear line of trails throughout the park. While following the main trail further into the base the old overgrown chain link fences can be seen, still protecting the grounds.

Following the trails into the base, the old access roads into the missile site can still be seen. We followed them through the fences and further into the woods, leading to a large clearing with large power lines overhead. This is where the missile launch pads were once located, remnants of them can still be seen. Continuing down the trail, we found the three former missile platforms. Each of these is a large cement foundation with a rusty metal blast plate attached, used to protect the concrete from the rocket’s heat. Alongside of these, there are several collapsed ruins that were once small buildings. Scattered amongst the site were random items such as old tires, cement markers, and old telephone lines. Closer to the main grounds of the base, there is the old water pump station. A large blue tank stands beside an old cement building. Both have become very rusted and covered in graffiti. 

Though the site is designated as a recreational area, it clearly has its share of secrets. We found one small underground bunker that we were able to get into, though it was merely a small electrical duct. Mixed amongst the trees, the old wire system can still be seen. We even curiously found a large area of the grounds that was literally coated in broken glass sitting beside a dying fire pit. Either the Terminator has recently returned from the future, or this place has a vandal problem. Unfortunately, it will not be long before all of these ruins disappear. Though the remnants of this place’s past are slowly fading away, there are still reminders everywhere of what it once was. The Manchester Nike Missile Base may have swapped its garrison of soldiers for children and tiny ballerinas, but the ghosts of the Cold War still haunt these wooded grounds.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Devil’s Playground — The Abandoned Fort Wetherill

Posted: January 6, 2015 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Forts, abandoned military bases, abandoned new england, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Beaches, Bird Watching, Birds, Broken, darkness, Destruction, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Fort Wetherill, Fortress, Forts, Graveyard, Hiking, History, Information, left behind, lost, Military, Military Forts, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, Ocean, Ocean View, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Rhode Island, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, seaside, State Parks, Stories, Terminus, The Walking Dead, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Walking Dead, writing, WWII
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Devil’s Playground

The Abandoned Fort Wetherill

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

While our home state of Connecticut is known amongst the urban explorer community for its many abandoned hospitals and insane asylums, the neighboring state of Rhode Island is known for something different. Due to its coastal proximity and value, the Ocean State is home to several abandoned seaside fortresses. Most of these forts date back to the early colonial days of America, with British, French, and Colonial forces occupying them at one time or another throughout the pages of history. Sadly, over the years the uses for these coastal protectors has dwindled. Many of the former forts and artillery batteries are now abandoned. Now, with no watchmen watching over these former watchtowers, they have become plagued by vandals, graffiti artists, and delinquents. It is these lawless individuals have made these places into their very own playground for destruction.

Perhaps the most well-known of these former coastal protectors is Fort Wetherill. Located in the town of Jamestown, Rhode Island, Fort Wetherill is a mere stone’s throw away from the neighboring town of Newport. The history of the site dates back to the early 18th century. To protect the Narragansett Bay area, Fort Dumpling was built by British forces. After the expulsion, Fort Wetherill was constructed in its place by the American military a mere hundred years later in 1899. As a protector for the wealthy city of Newport and the New England mainland, Fort Wetherill proved to be very active during both World Wars as an artillery placement and troop station. Another primary task of the fort was to oversee the minefields erected during World War II. But following the “War to end all Wars,” Fort Wetherill was decommissioned in 1946. It was then left abandoned for many years.

Fortunately, the grounds were reacquired by the State of Rhode Island in the year of 1972. Due to its large granite cliffs and excellent view of the ocean, the grounds were commissioned as a state park. It is currently enjoyed today by many for sailing, fishing, and other water sports. The fortress, however, still stands. The state did just enough to make the grounds not dangerous, by removing all hazardous materials and sealing off the upper and lower tunnel networks. By not demolishing the fort, the state left it at the mercy of the elements and the more destructive visitors the park. The tunnels are now filled with trash. The walls are coated with graffiti. And instead of soldiers, the fortress is garrisoned only by drunken teenagers. We decided to visit this former fort on a gloomy fall day.

Finding Fort Wetherill is easy. Due to its status as a national park, all you have to do is google it. There is a nice little parking lot at the front of the park. They even have onsite bathrooms. Apparently the park is also very popular for dog walkers, as we saw plenty. The fort is a short walk from the parking lot. Through the thick vegetation blocks it from view at some points, its large multicolored hull eventually looms out through the trees. It is truly a site to see. There are hardly any spots left on the fort that have not been covered with some sort of graffiti. Coming down the path initially, you are launched right into the main courtyard.  There is a small staircase leading off toward the ocean, and on either side are the old watchtowers and tunnel networks.

There are old fences scattered all over the fort, not that they can do much good. They are quite easy to hop right over. Following the old fence from the courtyard, we traveled along the fort’s outer wall. Though it may look small from the initial approach, Fort Wetherill is anything but. Most it, however, is hidden from sight by the wild trees and vegetation. At the farthest point, we found a small watchtower with an excellent view of the Narragansett Bay. Each section of the fort has their own tunnels. None of them are connected. When walking down them into the darkness, each one will have a large open room and then exit out a different way. Some even have little barred windows overlooking the outside. The inside of each tunnel is coated wall to wall with graffiti, and trash is everywhere.

Past the first courtyard, there are a few more towards the western side of the fort. Each one is just as graffiti covered as the first. This colorful art ranges from jokes, hate speech, drawings, and the occasional philosophical saying. For all you “Walking Dead” fans out there, we even found a few signs pointing to “Terminus.” Just like the show, they read “Sanctuary for all.” Fortunately, we didn’t find any cannibalistic community led by a former “Greek” star. While some of the graffiti is really offensive and at times dumb, it does give the former fortress an almost look of urban beauty. All of the wild colors and mismatched drawings give the fort a very unique aura. Unfortunately, any sense of beauty that may be found on the outside is ruined by the darkness of the inside.

The tunnels of Fort Wetherill are the Wild West. As made evident, there are no rules here. We found a small room deep in one of the tunnels that was completely full of bottles and beer cans. We also encountered a lot of unsavory characters down there. A few teens were smoking pot. There were others that were having sex. And even more were smashing the walls with sledge hammers. All just for fun. While we were all kids once, it is a shame to see this incredible site systematically destroyed by these people. And unfortunately, nothing can be done about it. Fort Wetherill has been left behind, and while its walls are sturdy, who knows how long this place has left. Since it is legal to visit, we encourage you to check out Fort Wetherill. However, we do urge you to be respectful. It really is a place of urban beauty, and we hope that you get to experience it. For it will not be long before Fort Wetherill becomes more than just The Devil’s Playground, and descends deeper into darkness.

Sound the Bugle – The Lost Nike Missile Bases of Connecticut

Posted: November 11, 2014 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Forts, abandoned military bases, abandoned new england, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Broken, Closed, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, East Haddam Connecticut, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, fire, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, forgotten home, Fortress, Forts, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, House, Information, lost, Military, Military Forts, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, Nike Missile Base, overgrown, photography, Portland, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, State Parks, Stories, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing, WWII
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sound the Bugle

The Lost Nike Missile Bases of Connecticut

By: Sean and Amanda

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When I was a kid, we would spend hours upon hours building our own army bases deep in the woods. Little did we know, there are some still out there. Waiting to be found. Though they have been long abandoned, there is still a strong presence to be felt. There are concrete staircases leading to nowhere, old guard shacks slowly being crushed by the weight of time, and miles of underground tunnels hidden from the world of above. These are the former Nike Missile Bases of Connecticut. In the early days of the Cold War, they were built as an aerial defense system for the United States. But as time crept on and technology developed, these missile bases were left behind, fair game for nature to reclaim.

There were at one time hundreds of Nike Missile sites all over the country. Some bases were even established in Europe. There were at least twelve known in the state of Connecticut. Most of these sites were coastal or along the Connecticut River. Others were in place as a defense for the city of Hartford. First established in 1945 as a project for the Army, the Nike Missile sites were created as a new form of defense against aerial attacks on the United States homeland. By the mid-1950’s, there were sites in almost every state in the union. But also around this time, technology began to develop. The Army was moving forward with more advanced forms of missile defense, and Nike slowly became obsolete. It wasn’t long until the project came to end.

With most sites being a part of active military bases, their shutdown was not a big deal. Some shutdown sites were demolished. Others were donated. But a few were simply left to rot. We visited one such site. Most of the bases in Connecticut have been demolished completely, refurnished for new purposes, or used as recreation areas. But there is one that still stands. Hidden away deep in the Meshomasic State Forest, this site featured two compounds: B and C. They are both within a mile or so of each other. Where to find these sites can be found online with a little digging. We strongly advise you use Google Maps if you ever plan on visiting this site. It is not an easy trip in at all.

As soon as you cross over into the Meshomasic State Forest, the road becomes very treacherous. It is all unpaved, rocky, dirt roads going forward. Do not take a car that is low to the ground, or any vehicle that you don’t mind getting a little dirty. If you’ve got a truck or an SUV, take it. Aside from the poor road conditions, the state forest is a true sight to see. Since it is rather difficult to get to, it is not heavily frequented by hikers or bikers. We found relative solitude for most of our trip in. There is no exact street address for either missile site. But we used Google Maps to chart a relative location for both of them so we knew exactly what to look for.

We arrived at Site C first. It is the easier of the two to find, mainly because most of what remains of the site is above ground. It is marked by an old guard gate, with a slowly decaying road leading upward. This proved to be a nice place to park our car. After a short walk up the old road, we found what remains of the base. It was marked by a concrete staircase to nowhere, leading onwards. We walked up the staircase and continued down the path. Several odd looking buildings still remain, though a few of them are full of beer cans and trash. Also, always watch where you step. There are partially filled in manholes all over the site. Only once were we able to find one that you can climb down, but it did not go far. It was also full of snakes. There are also multiple collapsed buildings on this site. Whether they were torn down by man or by nature remains to be seen.

Site D was our second visit. It is a good stretch further down the labyrinth of dirt roads, marked by a similar entry way as Site C. This site has a paved road leading into it. The road is in surprisingly good shape, though it is covered in graffiti and old fire pits. Both sites have a lot of evidence for partying, which was discouraging. A short walk down the road, we found several former foundations of buildings. We also found an old trail of old power lines which lead further into the base. Following this trail, we found multiple mounds of wood chips. This usually indicates something was there, but has now been destroyed. Continuing down the road, we came across a big empty field. Though it may not look like much, it was what dwells beneath your feet that makes this site special.

Much like Site C, there are many filled in manholes all across the base. There are also several just plain cement lots. But do not be deceived. Beneath the cement, lie the underground bunkers of the Nike Missile Site. There are very few ways down into the tunnels. But we found one. By gaining access through an old ventilation hatch, we were able to get into the underground tunnels. We do not condone or recommend this. It may not be illegal, but the tunnels are extremely dangerous. They are heavily flooded in some parts. The air is not very good. And it is completely dark down there. Do not even think about going down without all of the proper safety equipment. Getting in involves a lot of crawling on your belly, covering your face, and hoping to God the batteries of your flashlight hold out.

Once a thriving part of the United States military, the Nike Missile sites are now nothing more than the ghosts of the Cold War. Though many of the former sites have been destroyed or are on private property, this site strangely is neither. It was simply left behind. Of all the places we have explored, few have shown just how fast and furiously nature can reclaim the land. The sites lay in ruin. But if you look closely, you can still see the shadows of what this place once was before the final bugle sounded.