Posts Tagged ‘forts’

Cold War Ghost Town – The Abandoned Truro Air Force Station

Posted: August 18, 2016 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Baseball Field, Abandoned Cabin, Abandoned Cape Cod, Abandoned Forts, abandoned home, Abandoned House, Abandoned Massachusetts, abandoned military bases, abandoned new england, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Bates Motel, Beaches, Birds, Broken, Cape Cod, Closed, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, forgotten home, Fortress, Forts, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, House, Information, left behind, Magic, Massachusetts, Military, Military Forts, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, Ocean, Ocean View, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, seaside, State Parks, Stories, Truro, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing, WWII
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Cold War Ghost Town

The Abandoned Truro Air Force Station

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

War is a lot like love. It is easy to start, difficult to end, and impossible to forget. No conflict in human history has ever been truer to these words than the Cold War. Decades of mutual hatred between the East and the West brought our entire planet to the brink of destruction. It was an era of fear, anger, and paranoia. And out of those dark emotions came a massive military build-up that spanned across the globe. Today, it is a different world. All of these fears and doubts have faded away, but the ghosts of the Cold War conflict have not. They are hidden, amongst the darkest corners of our forests and our memories. Ruins of old military bases are now nothing more than graveyards. But on the far reaches of Cape Cod, there is one that stands out from all others.

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In the dark days following World War II, the United States military began to prepare to adjust to the changing international atmosphere. Across the country, missile defense bases began to emerge. In 1951, the North Truro Air Force Station was born. Situated on the far end of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the base had many different jobs during the Cold War conflict. With ever changing and advancing technology, the station was largely used as a radar and air defense base. It housed hundreds of American military personnel over the years, and was complete with on-site housing and recreational facilities. But when the Cold War came to a sudden end in 1991, the future of the station became cloudy. In the turmoil that followed, the North Truro Air Force Station was closed in 1994 and the land was sold off.

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Over the years, we had heard many rumors and stories about the North Truro Air Force Station. Many debated whether or not the place was worth a visit, and even more argued about what was actually left to see. Finally, in the early summer of 2016, we were finally able to stop by the curious facility. The sun was shining. The beaches were busy. And the true magic of Cape Cod was just beginning to wake up. The Air Force Station lies off a quiet road on the far side of North Truro. It is actually only a short drive from the fabled Bates Motel, which is more than worth a visit. The base is technically part of a national park, and is legal to visit. Certain areas are still used for community functions though, and are off limits. It doesn’t look like much, but hidden amongst the heavy underbrush and beach foliage is a ghost town, as old and as spooky as the Cold War itself.

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Upon arrival, the first thing to greet you is what appears to be a large open field. But in actuality, this is the overgrown baseball field from the station’s heyday. The old dugouts and diamond can still be seen if you look hard enough. It is a short walk down the old road, though, where things start to get interesting. Here lies the ghost town. Lining a short stretch of road are what remains of the on-site housing for the military personnel. Each one has simply been left to rot. The doors aren’t even boarded up. Inside, kitchen supplies, mementos, and relics of the past have been simply left behind. The houses at the front of the street were for enlisted men. Down the road were the officer’s houses, which were larger and included garage bays. Many tools and pieces of scrap metal could still be found in a few garages. But beware, asbestos warnings and broken glass are everywhere. Watch your step.

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Hidden farther off in the woods is the old helipad. There is not much to see here, save for a few concrete foundations and filled in tunnels. A slight breeze from the nearby ocean blows through the tall sea-grass. Sea birds and gulls caw overheard, singing a soft eulogy for this forgotten place. We only ran into two other people, an old couple walking their dog who were more than happy to tell us what they knew about the site. If you truly wish to see urban decay at its finest, without running the risk of being arrested, then this place is a must see. It truly is a ghost town, as if everyone just got up and left someday. Never to return. Of all the former military bases we have explored, North Truro Air Force Station was the most intact and most interesting. It is in a class all its own. But to us, this place, much like the Cold War, will be impossible to forget.

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Fortress of Solitude – The Abandoned Fort Mansfield

Posted: March 19, 2015 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Forts, abandoned military bases, abandoned new england, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Beaches, Bird Watching, Birds, Broken, Closed, darkness, Destruction, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Fort Wetherill, Fortress, Forts, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Information, left behind, lost, Military, Military Forts, Mystery, Napatree Point, nature, new england, nightmares, Ocean, Ocean View, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Rhode Island, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, seaside, Stories, time, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing, WWII
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Fortress of Solitude

The Abandoned Fort Mansfield

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

   The waves of the ocean crash up against the sandy shore. Fierce gusts of wind shriek through the tall sea grass. Packs of white gulls soar overhead, cackling and cawing to each other. The sun shines powerful and radiant in the sky. The deep Atlantic water is an enchanting shade of bright blue. This is Napatree Point, Rhode Island. And somewhere, lost in the vegetation of this place, lays an abandoned military fortress. The ramparts crumble as they slowly succumb to the barrage of time. Dark and empty corridors are haunted by the ghosts of the past. What once served as the first defense of the American homeland now lies in total silence. This is Fort Mansfield, forgotten by some and a legend to others. Unlike one of the other famous abandoned military forts in Rhode Island, Fort Wetherill (see our write-up here), this former coastal artillery instillation has been all but lost to the white sands of Napatree Point. Located in the village of Watch Hill, Fort Mansfield was one of our most difficult treks, but also one of our most rewarding discoveries.

Fort Mansfield has called Napatree Point home since its creation in the early twentieth century. The point is a small piece of land branching out from the town of Watch Hill. The United States military first purchased the property in 1898, as part of a new program to install artillery batteries all along the coast of New England. Though it may not have as rich of a history as Fort Wetherill, Mansfield does have a much sadder story than its legendary cousin. The fort was officially commissioned in 1902. However, during the war games of the early 1900’s, a fatal flaw was discovered in the fort’s design. The guns of the fort would be unable to repel a head-on assault from the sea, and it would be an easy target for an amphibious assault. Thus, the fort was decommissioned from active status in 1909. Over the years, the garrison of the fortress slowly dwindled as the military lost all interest and faith in it. The land was finally sold back to the town of Watch Hill in 1928. The fortress has remained abandoned ever since.

Having heard whispers of Fort Mansfield in the past without ever finding much information about it, we decided to go searching for it during the fall of 2014. As a burrow of the town of Westerly, Watch Hill is quite the summer hotspot, but it goes quiet during the offseason. Napatree Point is perfectly legal to walk, except for the handful of beachside bungalows at the very beginning. There is a nice little parking lot that is free to park at right in the middle of downtown Watch Hill. After parking, we began our walk down the point. There is beach on either side of the point, with thick vegetation in the middle. This is also a bird sanctuary during the summer nesting season. It is roughly a little over a mile to the very tip of the point. It is also fiercely windy due to the proximity to the ocean. The early stages of the point are decently trafficked by beachgoers, but the end of the point is deserted. After a long time combing through the point’s thick grass, we finally came upon the abandoned fortress.

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The fortress is comprised of two sections: one part contains the first two artillery instillations and the second section is a brief walk away containing the third instillation. There were once a few buildings here, but they have long since been demolished. The first section is a pretty good size. Though it is not as covered in graffiti as Fort Wetherill, Fort Mansfield is still pretty vandalized. Lots of tagging covers the walls, and there is plenty of liter down in the lower tunnels. The local fire department had put up some fencing around the outer walls of the fort to prevent visitors from getting in, but they are quite easily bypassed via a few still functioning ladders and former staircases. Several metal slabs have also been placed over certain points. Except for the blistering gusts of wind, this place is completely silent. There are several entrance points down to the lower levels. Since the front walls have been knocked out, there is a decent amount of light down here. The floor is also completely flooded in certain rooms from years of rain and high tides.

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The second section of the fort is a brief walk down an overgrown path. It sits on the very edge of Napatree Point, giving an excellent view of the Rhode Island coastline. It is much smaller than the first section of the fort, and is much more difficult to see. Tall sea grass and vegetation keep it very well hidden. The graffiti here is actually much more light hearted than the first section. At the very top of the fort, there are a couple of small staircases leading up to what must have once been look out posts. They provide excellent cover from the merciless wind. Unlike the first section, there are no barricades or fences to deter visitors here. Down to the lower levels, there are several large empty rooms. They are in complete darkness, yet they are completely empty save for the trash of vandals. Someone, or something, is most definitely living here. While exploring the dark passages of the lower levels, we heard something moving around in the tunnels. We didn’t stick around to find out what it was.

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Though it is a bit of a trek and can be difficult to find if you don’t know where to look, Fort Mansfield is definitely worth a visit. Unlike the legendary Fort Wetherill, this abandoned base is not home for teenage destruction and vandalism. Because of its remote location, the fort is only enjoyed by those who are willing to make the journey. The fierce winds and the hot sand make it a tough trek, but the fort is more than worth it. While the coastal town around it continues to grow and flourish, Fort Mansfield continues to stray out of thought and time. It is the ruins of a fortress that never got to be. Its run as a coastal artillery unit was cut tragically short by a fatal flaw. Now the land weeps, haunted by a purpose that it never got to fulfill. It is truly a fortress of solitude; quiet and alone, but still standing guard over its former territory.

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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
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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
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Sound the Bugle

The Lost Nike Missile Bases of Connecticut

By: Sean and Amanda

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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.

Here are five rules that Sean and I always follow when out exploring abandoned wonders.

1. Never Go Alone

Abandoned places can be very dangerous. It is important to always use the buddy system in case the worst should happen. Always make sure someone on the outside knows where you are. It is important to bring a radio, whistle, and/or cell phone to alert others in case you are lost or in need of help.

2. Always Come Prepared

When out exploring always make sure to bring the following:

Water

Compass

Gloves

Flashlights and batteries

Camera

Proper Footwear

Snacks

Head and/or Face Protection (if necessary)

First Aid Kit

3. Never Talk to Strangers 

People can be dangerous and you never know who you may run into. Keep your distance and “never talk to strangers.” If you hear a strange noise down a dark tunnel do not investigate (trust us!). You never want to put yourself in harms way.

4. Do Your Research

It is always important to know exactly where you are going and what to look for. Know your route, where to park, what may be off limits, and use google maps. It helps! Research ahead of time what equipment is needed (face/head protection, flashlights, etc.) and what isn’t needed. Never carry more than you need.

5. Leave No Trace

Do not vandalize, destroy, and or harm the location you are exploring. Vandals ruin these amazing places and often ruin it for the rest of us (cause police presence, etc.). Always pack out exactly what you pack in. Never litter!