Posts Tagged ‘US Military’

Last Looks

The Abandoned South Weymouth Naval Air Station

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

We lost a dear friend of ours two weeks ago. It still hurts thinking about him. We’d known him for over ten years, and I personally worked with him on over a hundred different movies/commercials/TV shows/live performances/etc. So this piece is dedicated to Special Effects wizards, friend of the site, and all around stand-up guy Skippy. I hadn’t seen him since the pandemic started. The last time I saw him, we were working together on a short film up in Worcester, MA. But the sad part is, I had no idea that this would be the last time we’d see each other. It makes my heart break, wishing I had known, and wishing I had told him how good of a friend he was to both Lassie and I. It’s an unsettling fact that many of us take for granted. Whenever you spend time with someone, you very well could be seeing them for the last time. And you’d have no idea. Life moves so slow sometimes. But when it moves fast, it’s amazing how much you can lose in the blink of an eye. So to everyone reading this, I have a homework assignment for you. A dare, even. Reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in awhile. You never know how much hearing from you might mean to them. And always make sure your friends and loved ones know how you feel. Don’t leave things left unsaid. You never know when you might be seeing them for the last time.

This month’s subject is something that’s been on our list for a very long time. But since it was so far away, we just never found the time to go see it. But with a film premiere in Boston, we decided to take a pit stop on our way up. This is the abandoned South Weymouth Naval Air Station. This place is legendary amongst our community, and for good reason. There’s honestly too much history here to fit into one little paragraph, so I would like to take this opportunity to give a shout-out to another friend of the site, Jason Allard. He is an absolute pro, and his “Abandoned From Above” series is one of our favorite things to watch. A couple of months ago, he did a fabulous video on this place that I cannot recommend it enough. Here is the link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tpCtUOkCb0 And if you have time, please do give him a subscribe. If you’re in New England, he does some of the best work we’ve ever seen. But if you prefer to read, here are some quick facts. The base was first opened during the early days of WWII. It’s main claim to fame was being the main headquarters of the US Navy’s anti-submarine blimp division. During the Cold War, it transitioned into a more traditional airfield focused around homeland defense. The base was unfortunately forced to close it’s doors for good in the late 1990’s due to military budget cuts.

The defunct air base now lies spanning across the towns of Abington, Weymouth, and Rockland. And her former territory is slowly being taken over. Apartment buildings and construction keep creeping closer and closer to the property. Last year, arsonists burned down several of the smaller buildings on the far side of the base. Now all that stands are the two derelict control towers and a few small hangar bays. It was over a mile trekking across the old runway to get to our destination. Though the sky was grey, the tips of the towers began to peak through the treeline. And I can tell you know, the towers are breathtaking. Like I said earlier, there are two towers. Orange and White. Orange Tower is the first one to greet you on the trail. It is the older of the two, has a strong military atheistic, and is in the worst shape. Broken glass, watermelon rinds, and empty spray paint bottles coat the ground. The tower casts a long, grim shadow over the land. Though we were able to get inside, we did not climb to the top of this one. The staircase is easily accessible, but its steps are absolutely rusted to Hell. They are coated in graffiti, and most are now just flimsy/jagged metal that look like they could collapse at any moment. So we unfortunately had to enjoy Orange Tower from the ground. But even from down here, it is truly a sight to behold.

White Tower, on the other hand, is a completely different animal. Unlike Orange Tower, this one was never actually used. The base was shut down before construction could be completed. It has a more modern look and feel to it. Almost like something you’d see at an airport, as opposed to a military base. Lying a few dozen yards down the path, this grand monolith stands tall and foreboding against the cold sky. What I found most unusual about White Tower is that it appears to be much more untouched than its counterpart. With Orange Tower, stuff was all over the ground. Graffiti was everywhere. It feels absolutely trashed. Though clearly scarred by her more vicious visitors, the spirit of White Tower still appears to be quite strong. As if only the brave or the stupid continue forward to see it. Well, we were both today, because we climbed all the way to the top of this old guardian. We went up floor after floor, witnessing true urban decay and destruction everywhere we looked. Unlike Orange Tower, the stairs were quite sturdy. Clearly not too much stuff had been left behind either. Though whenever we did come across some old relics, they had been absolutely destroyed. We even got a peak down the old elevator shaft. And once we finally reached the top, the view is quite grand. A mist was in the air, and we could see all across Eastern Massachusetts.

As I mentioned earlier, there are a few smaller hangar bays still left standing on the far side of the base. But there really isn’t too much to see here. They are absolutely coated in graffiti and filled to the brim with garbage. Probably because they are much closer to the road and much easier to access than the two towers. During our long walk back to the car, I would periodically turn around and look back at White and Orange peaking through the treetops. They grew smaller and less visible the farther we moved away. Eventually, they completely disappeared from sight. Vanishing amongst the thick treeline and fading sunlight. It made me a little bit sad knowing that I would probably never see them again. With the continuing development of the land and the persistent vandal problem, it’s hard to say just how much longer these old warhorses have left. Time will tell. But I would highly recommend a visit to any experienced urban explorers. This place is definitely not for beginners, tourists, or the faint of heart. As always, I encourage any potential visitors to please be safe and respectful. The abandoned South Weymouth Naval Air Station is truly an amazing place, and let’s try to keep it that way for as long as possible. It’s an adventure that I will certainly never forget, and a place that I hope to someday see again. But until that day comes, goodbye for now.

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

Posted: February 17, 2015 by 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
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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.

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