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Thread: Military Bases As Ghost Towns?

  1. #1
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    Default Military Bases As Ghost Towns?

    I was wondering if anyone else considered abandoned/reallocated military installations to be ghost towns? Technically they are ghosts of their former selves...

    Anyway, although some of these sites are still in use in some capacity, they are but a shadow of their former selves.

    George AFB, Adelanto, California, closed in the ealy 90s as part of the Base Realignment And Closure (BRAC). Although George's runway and flightline-specific buildings are alive and used as part of the SoCal Logistics Airport, the residential areas of the base are effectively dead (more precisely, the northeast part of the site):
    http://www.mawhamba.net/galleries/th...s.php?album=42

    Eaker AFB, Blytheville, Arkansas, closed during the 90s BRAC, although some parts are still alive (muni airport, some industry), a good portion of the site is dead:
    http://www.mawhamba.net/galleries/th...s.php?album=94

    Fairmont Army Air Field (AAF), Fairmont, Nebraska -- Open as a state airport; but only about 5 out of hundreds of buildings still stand -- there are tons of foundations and other ruins, however:
    http://www.mawhamba.net/galleries/th....php?album=128

    Bruning AAF, Bruning, Nebraska -- Part of a large feedyard operation -- some buildings (namely the standing hangars) have been turned into grain elevator-type storage -- others are left empty. Many building foundations, flightine still intact:
    http://www.mawhamba.net/galleries/th....php?album=129

    There's another AAF about 45 miles NW of here (Omaha) near Fremont called Scribner. I don't think any buildings still stand, but the flightline's still there -- used as a drag strip.

    Why military installations? Well, if you've ever been to Nebraska, half the state's a ghost town. Sorry, don't get me wrong, I love it here, it's just very difficult to find "ghost towns" like you do in the west -- the land's too valuable, agriculturally, so I have to be a bit more creative in my searching.

    I'd like to submit them to GT, but would like to know what other people think before I do so. Any input would be appreciated.

    Thanx!

    ~Mawhamba~

  2. #2
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    old judge is offline Rock Crawlin GPS Moving Map Totin Trailblazing Expert Ghost Towner
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    I suppose most previously populated, now abandoned, or mostly abandoned, populated places could be technically fit into a Ghosttown category. The word "town" does give pause, however. In my own hometown there were once two Naval bases. They were established in the early 40's and had pretty much been abandoned by the Navy by the mid to late 50's. While some buildings were leased out from time to time for current use, by and large they stood abandoned and deteriorating until fairly recently. As a lad, I was familiar with the hustle and bustle, comings and goings of these two airfields and training facilities. Sailors everywhere, the tensions between townies and swabbies, fights between local boys and sailors for the favor of lovely young local gals, etc. I also spent several years myself as a sailor, in many far away ports, U. S. and foreign. When I returned here in the early 70's, I could walk among the old facilities, Pools, Garages, Mess Hall, Barracks, Hospital, Gymnasium, etc. and almost hear the Sailors marching on the grinder, and the grumbling gobs on their way to morning mess. But the place would have meant little to me without childhood memories of the place and my own Naval experience. Military bases are not likely, I think, to have the universal appeal of an 1800's ghost town, where we can almost all sit quietly and truly imagine, if somewhat inaccurately, the past. My answer to your query then is a qualified no. OJ
    Last edited by old judge; 07-03-2005 at 08:49 AM.

  3. #3
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    Default Any place where people once resided can be called a Ghost Town

    I would agree that George AFB meets the definition of "A shadowy semblance of a former self," a famous quote often used as a valid definition if a type of ghost town. For every BRAC, there are a half dozen pos-WWII closed and in many cases completely abandoned facilities. True, only concrete runways and minimum evidence remain but they too, meet the definition of of a ghost town. The great WWI / WWII /Korean and Viet Nam Naval Ammunition Depot around Hawthorne, Nevada, abandoned by the Navy and used till this year by the Army is "A shadowy semblance of a former self." However the housing area Babbitt is like George, is still standing but abandoned and I consider a prime ghost town. I encourage you to document and share any such ghosts. The list could include interment camps, manned test facilities, manned emergency landing fields, and POW facilities which have fallen into disuse. You could include places that have been officially closed and then perhaps acquired and converted to another purpose. I don’t consider Stead AFB as a current ghost because it was so completely turned into an industrial complex but the Tonopah AAS used for train WWII bombers sure qualifies even though it now functions as the civil airfield for Tonopah.

    Sometime the reality differs from the “official” report, I cite a description of an old WWII site, used by the CIA during the height of the Cold War (Developed the U2 spy planes) and “officially” closed in 1962 as such example. This like so many other ghosts here in Nevada this is still behind locked and guarded gates so verification is not possible. I consider it fair game to have fun with “official” stories. The description I cite is for this ghost of Watertown (Also called The Ranch) A CIA sponsored community located at the old World War II Groom Range training facility in southwest Lincoln County. Despite strong Air Force denials to its existence, this community may not be a ghost yet!
    Last edited by Bob; 07-03-2005 at 08:59 AM.
    Yet Another Bob

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    Default Most ghost towns are not pristine 1800's affairs with universal appeal

    Hey Old Judge, guess you and I were posting at about the same time. I do respectively disagree the definition of ghost town really includes such places. I do see what you mean about them not being the same as an 1800s Wood Store Front classical ghost but so many of the ghosts I chase have little or any evidence of past life except from the histories. I can stand ai ghost called Rose’s Well and feel the excitement of an active turn of the 20th century water station and but without rooting around to find an old can or two, most would not be aware that there had ever been community. Without the history provided by one’s research and fellow ghost town enthusiasts, your home town Navy bases would be nothing more than a street name on the current map. Almost all ghosts of the past are not “…an 1800's ghost town, where we can almost all sit quietly and truly imagine, if somewhat inaccurately, the past.” Most ghosts require research and shared knowledge to then “…sit quietly and truly imagine, if somewhat inaccurately, the past.” My response is an unqualified YES, I am interested in any ghost of the past, even if today a giant Casino and Hotel occupies the location where an 1850 river crossing and fledgling community once existed. I consider Hunter's Crossing as a ghost town worthy of investigation and research, you would have me call it Reno
    Last edited by Bob; 07-03-2005 at 09:23 AM.
    Yet Another Bob

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    Bob: I see your point, and perhaps I put more emphasis on the "town" in Ghost Town than is appropriate. After all, I've GT'd at old pony express stations and military posts and didn't consider it other than Ghost Towning. I also count other former populated places, such as those occupied by our Indian ancestors, as bona fide GT locations. Maybe it's the antiquity issue that bothers me. That, and my concern about how you would define Glenn Dale Hospital, unquestionably a previously populated place bearing little resemblance to its former self, a mere shadow of earlier glories. But, I didn't spend a good part of three different decades listening to only one side of the story. I'll agree to an unqualified "IT DEPENDS". OJ
    Last edited by old judge; 07-03-2005 at 10:27 AM.

  6. #6
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    Default Some clarification...

    Hi!

    First and foremost, let me apologize for my first post. Rereading it, it looks as though I were drunk when I wrote it. I'll proofread before I post this time.

    Second, thank you for the feedback. Let me explain where I'm coming from a bit better. As a veteran, I've been on several military installations. Military installations, at least US Military installations are cities in-and-of themselves. Installations usually have at least one supermarket and department store (commissary and exchange, respectively) at least one or more religious edifices (usually one which wears the hat of Church, Mosque and Synagogue, if possible), a section zoned for industrial use (machine shops, civil engineering, "plane mechanics"), a section zoned for residential use (base/post housing), parks, hospitals, mini marts, etc., etc. ad nauseum. The cut and dry of it is that these are cities where people live, in which they are born, sometimes die, and rarely are buried. When DoD decides to close one of these installations, their deaths are much as those of civilian towns, with a gradual decline in population and services. The vacuum, however, caused by their deaths is, in my personal opinion, greater than that of civilian towns as the closing of military installations can lead to the formation of new civilian ghost towns or civilian towns that are barely living. Some of these installations have had populations rivaling those of living cities. For example, Bruning AAF, at its height, had a population of ~3,000 service members and 500 civilians. The village of Bruning, in comparison, at its height in 1910 had a population of 350 (http://www.google.com/url?sa=U&start...3b3.pdf&e=9797). As of 2000, Bruning has a population of 300. As an added aside, the village of Bruning is far more depressing than is the site of the old Army Airfield.

    In closing, there are a number of sites listed on GT.com which may not qualify, necessarily, as Ghost Towns. For example, the Rock Creek Station, in southeast Nebraska is listed on GT.com. It was never, though, a town. It was a ranch at which perhaps a handful of souls lived. Nevertheless, my personal feelings are that this doth qualify as a GT or at least a ghost site or something of equal verbiage that gives insight into its lost past.

    - GJR -

  7. #7
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    Default What is a ghost town is a very broad definition

    Mawhamba, I think the concept of a “town” is also very broad. I don’t know Rock Creek Station, in southeast Nebraska but I consider an extended ranch, one where non-related persons lived as a ghost town. Many such ranches served as post office, general supply locations for nearby ranches and such and locale with but a handful of souls is within the broader definition. I think we all recognize that occupied locales that give “insight into its lost past” are part and parcel GT,COM.
    Old Judge, I guess I’ve seen the term Ghost towns painted with a mighty wide brush, I feel an old pony express or Overland Stage station qualifies as they were inhabited by the station keeper and others in a situation non-family like a ranch. I consider whistle stops along railroads where only a maintenance crew resided the same way. I’m not sure about the “Glenn Dale Hospital” but know nothing of it. To me a hospital is part of a greater community and unless the community is a ghost, the hospital isn’t of concern. If you don’t consider Goldfield a ghost, it is hard to consider the Goldfield Hotel and I’d call the Hotel a structure in a town that was a “shadowy semblance of a former self", not a ghost town in itself, I’d hold that for some of the other places that are the subject “posts” we both take umbrage at.
    I would consider a write-ups of a pony express, way station, stage stop, whistle-stop, abandoned bases, an old fort, a previously occupied mining camp or even the county seat of Storey County all appropriate for write-ups in Ghosttowns.com BUT…
    Old Judge, you and I have expressed our opinions well. I ready to stop posting and see what others of the ghost town enthusiasts think; Flatiron, Johnnie, Cecile, Dezdan, Mikejts, Ryan Hill, Ghostdancer, David Wright, etc…
    Yet Another Bob

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    I agree. I know Flatiron's a big Glenn Dale Hospital fan. Hmmm. I kinda like ghost site. And by the way, welcome to our new GTer, even if he is a Cornhusker. OJ

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    Red face Chiming in....

    I would say abandoned bases are definitely interesting, and places I would definitely like to visit. That said, we also put the emphasis on the "town" in ghost towns. We get lots of emails from people who want to suggest an abandoned farmstead or ranch, but we tend to stay away from those kind of places for a number of reasons...

    First, private property concerns.

    Second, we like to make optimal use of our expedition time, and that usually means trying to find a "town" where there will be numerous structures.

    We have discovered that people have a more general interest in abandoned places, and aren't quite as married to the "town" as we are. So if we had some abandoned bases in ND with giant empty hangars and such, we'd probably go just for the photo opportunities alone.

    Unfortunately, the only abandoned bases we have are radar bases which were shut down by the Salt II treaty, and re-developed as housing developments. Although we do have plenty of missile silos out here... maybe we can check out one of those...

    On that subject, anybody seen Urban Explorers on Discovery Channel yet? Last episode I saw, they went to Denver to check out an abandoned missile silo, very creepy and nearly full of water....

  10. #10
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    Thumbs up Ghost Towns it is then

    I suppose I'll let it pass then, and maintain a Ghost Town only mindset here (I'm sure I can find a forum for my other abandoned area interests).

    Thanx for the welcome -- I've been keeping tabs on the site for a while now, finally decided to join in :-)

    Question: Whom do I contact to get updates performed on the listings for sites? I tried to make an update for Spring Ranch, Nebraska about two months ago and never heard anything.

    BTW: Not quite a Cornhusker -- more a Trojan or a Bruin (c'mon it's just college ball) -- still stings to hear "St Louis Rams," born and raised in SoCal -- still can't stand the humidity -- give me 104, dry and tea and I'll be happy -- 88, 100% humidity and I'm in ****.

    - GJR -

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