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Thread: Military Bases As Ghost Towns?

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Default Fort McDowell: Fits the bill as ghosttown


    One spot that might qualify (and should be on your must see list) is Fort McDowell.

    Located on Angel Island, a California State Park in the middle of San Francisco Bay, Fort McDowell was one of the major embarkation points during WWI for troops leaving the western US. After WWI, the army base was abandoned and stands today a rotting shell, echoing only the quiet sounds of the birds using her edifices as aeries and rookeries; a quite quiet remnant of the once bustling final stop for the lads' great oversea adventure. The pictures at this link do not do the place justice; hard to get a great photograph actually. Because space was at such a premium, this army base is more compact, hidden by the environment it was built into and has since grown up around. This Fort McDowell is not real well known and overshadowed by the fort/town/casino of the same name in Arizona. Angel Island, once known entirely as Fort McDowell (and Goat Island), is well worth the effort. )

    No residents, dozens of extant structures, and a state park.

    IMO, using those criteria Ft McDowell is a ghost town as much as Bodie is!

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2006


    I posted a reply under the thread "Dangerous Ghost Towns" regarding the former military installation at Igloo, SD.. if you plan to go there, read that thread.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    May 2006


    Abandoned places where people lived, worked and sometimes died works for me as a definition of a "ghost town". Personally, anyplace that human history once existed works for me too, even it it was a ranch, tent city, or a military base at one time.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Lorton, Virginia

    Default Military Bases as ghost towns

    Well, I guess I have to chime in here. I was an Air Force brat and then served for 12 years on active duty in the Army with 4 more in the Guard. To me, former bases are towns; most of the time, in addition to the temporary military people assigned their, many also had their families along. Further, most bases had significant civilian populations living on the base or just outside it. As a military historian, I have a natural affinity for visiting former Army bases. One of my fondest memories as a teenager was getting to visit the Air Base in Dreux, France, which my grandfather had commanded in the 1950s before DeGaulle said "Non."

    A portion of the base was being used by the French military, but that didnt stop me from crawling under a gate and making my way through the old hangars, admin and command buildings and barracks. It seemed as though the airmen had just left the base even though this was 1976. In the ops building, maps of Central Europe and Russia still hung on the walls, there was still furniture in the rooms and filing cabinets with discarded files.

    I think that old forts and bases are a critical part of understanding our history in the US and even overseas. In my opinion, they do qualify.

  5. #25

    Default Casa Grande range

    When we were RVing out West around Casa Grande, Az. for our travel site, I was out hiking in the desert. Came across several concrete slabs, and a few with deep "silos" in the ground. Threw a rock in one and didn't ever hear it hit bottom.. Had Corp of Engineer survey markers. Think it used to be a flight training area for bombing in the 1940s and 50s.
    Last edited by southpoint; 07-26-2007 at 02:17 PM. Reason: correct spelling

  6. #26
    Join Date
    May 2007


    I'm new on here and was reading past posts. To Bob, when were you last at Babbit? All the houses have been moved away. The only things left are the school and the bowling alley. Both are used by the town of Hawthorne. I wish I could have seen it in the 60's. We lived in Hawthorne untill 1991. I really miss the desert.

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Carson City, NV


    Quote Originally Posted by 1956 Buick View Post
    I'm new on here and was reading past posts. To Bob, when were you last at Babbit? All the houses have been moved away. The only things left are the school and the bowling alley. Both are used by the town of Hawthorne. I wish I could have seen it in the 60's. We lived in Hawthorne untill 1991. I really miss the desert.
    We lived in Babbit for a short while until we bought a house in town. Sold the house and moved up to Schweer housing just after New Year, 1980. We lived there until October/November. Sometime in the last couple of years Schweer was bulldozed.

    From a post I made in July, 2005
    Schweer housing is still intact but abandoned. The houses are all concrete block construction on slab floors. The Army declared it excess in 1998 but, as far as I know, the property has not been disposed of. During a recent trip to Hawthorne, I went up to the Schweer house we lived in when the base closed in 1980. Apparently, the wife and I were the last people to live in that particular house 'cause I found a box of stuff we thought the movers had lost when we moved to the Phillipines. Turns out it never got put on the moving truck but the Navy paid me for the loss.
    110,000 square miles of desert to play in . . . And the government owns 87% of it

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Reno, Nv. soon to be Austin, Nv.


    so is one free to wander around on the base?

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Aug 2006


    I remeber when we lived in Alaska.My dad was stationed at ElmendorfAFB,at the Alaskan Air Command.We drove out to this place that had once been some sort of base or station.It didn't have any buildings there,but had been used during WW2.Nothing creepy about the place.
    Fort Mckavett in Texas is astate park now,but once had been a military post.Later after the army moved out in the 1860s or 70s,people moved into the buildings and it even had a post office.I can't recall when,but the state of Texas then took it over and the people had to move.
    Yes,I would consider a military base a ghost town,since they have nurmerous buildings for various purposes just like a town.

  10. #30
    tuutuutango Guest


    Hey, I have been thinking the same thing! Just saw your post...

    Thousands and thousands of young men (myself included) went through Basic and Advanced Training at Fort Ord, California (now nothing more than a Ghostly shell of itself...)

    As an 18 year old kid straight out of West Texas... I thought I had died and gone to Heaven when I saw that beautiful part of the country for the first time in 1970.

    Fast forward to 1986 when I was in San Francisco on business, I drove down to Fort Ord and it was (for me) a Ghost Town... Uncle Sam closed the place... And now in 2007, the place is even more "abandoned" and looks like many of the actual Ghost Towns I have visited in my travels...

    I found a website a couple of years ago about Fort Ord and it has linked a lot of former soldiers together who used to "live" there. We share one thing in common... we have been "haunted" to see this glorious Army fort turned into a relic... Abandoned buildings with broken doors, broken windows with curtians blowing in the wind... For us who took basic there and know of guys who also served here before shipping off to Vietnam... we all believe the guys who didn't make it out of Vietnam haunt their old Army base...

    So, although an abandoned Fort may not technically be a Ghost Town, for thousands of veterans, these places are as special as old mining camps and in some sense are "special" ghost facilities... I'm sure they only are worth seeing if you were in the service at the Fort in question...

    Also, let me add HISTORIC FORT STOCKTON to the list.

    I was born in Fort Stockton, Texas and the old Army outpost (from the late 1800s) has been restored... technically not a Ghost Town, but also a special place as we reflect on the souls who served and died their... Not too far away is Historic Fort Davis...

    Old Forts that have been closed down and abandoned (and for those that have been restored) have special meaning to lot's of folks wanting to visit a historical place where people once lived and died... The old cemeteries located at or near the Forts are also worth a stop...

    I'd like to recommend this website for anyone looking for a grand adventure of Texas Forts from the late 1800s...

    By touring the Texas Forts Trail, you'll come very close to some ghost towns in Texas... So the trip might be a double-whammie.

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