Sunday, August 1, 2010

Exploring Camp Hero in Montauk, Long Island.

So some recent message board activity got me thinking about Montauk again last week. The missus and I have gone out once a year for the last few years and just sort of goofed around, checked out the lighthouse and the beaches and stuff. I'd seen the radar tower a few times and been interested in it but it didn't really seem like you'd be able to get that close to it.
At any rate, I decided yesterday on sort of a whim that we should go check out Camp Hero. If you're not familiar with the Montauk Project and the various conspiracy theories click here. There are some pretty bizarre theories about this place and while I can't say I believe them all, I can say that the place has got a very strange vibe to it. For a huge state park such as this, it was very empty, and this was on a beautiful sunny afternoon in late July when it should have been packed with tourists and fishermen.

So yeah, we drove out there, through the stupid Hamptons with all their snobs and bad traffic, to check out the park. At first we turned down Camp Hero Rd., figuring that it had to be the main entrance. We found this:

Not very welcoming. Oops! Wrong way. So we went back down Hwy 27 a mile or so and found the actual main entrance, drove to the bluff, and parked there. From there, we started walking down the trails that go along the coast line, heading up the hill towards the radar tower.

All along the trails are signs and flyers warning you not to go off the trails due to unexploded ordnance. Not wanting to explode, we stayed on the trails. There are a lot of barbed wire fences all throughout the woods as well, which is another good reason not to go too far into them, as many of them are very low to the ground and it would not be difficult to get snagged or cut on these.

As we headed up the hill, we came across this odd little building kind of in the middle of nowhere, away from the other installations.

We walked around the building to check it out. Seemed fairly simple, just a brick structure left unattended. Obviously it had something to do with the base but who knows what. Storage maybe? Maintenance? I dunno.

See that blue door? It opened just enough that I was able to get the camera lens inside.

Kind of weird. Evidently someone named Bolt had been in there tagging stuff. It gets very dark towards the opposite side of the building and as you walk around it it's hard not to notice that it was built without any windows towards the back, though it looks like there were some on the front which were bricked up. I suspect, based on the structure, that it had a lower level but couldn't tell for sure.

OK, so back on the trail we went, heading up (west) towards the radar tower buildings. Interesting warnings painted on the road, and old boarded up buildings that look like they might have been for guards at one point back when it was in use.

The radar building itself is pretty massive. You can't get very close to it (this way, at least) and while it wouldn't be hard to get over the fence, that's not going to go over well with the patrols that are very obviously in the area. There are park ranger types periodically zipping by in trucks, which is fine and all, and then there are planes. Which is weird.

There was a plane that had two propellers, not a massive plane but one that was big enough that you could hear and see it from the ground, that kept circling the area. We must have seen that thing five times in the two hours we were there. Now, it might not be a surveillance plane, but then again it might be, so we opted to err on the side of caution and not get into any trouble.

At any rate, the radar tower in all its sun bleached glory:

We realized afterwards that you can actually drive right up to the gate, which probably would have been easier than hiking up the hill in the dirt like we did, but it was actually a really cool walk and you definitely got a feel for how thick the woods are in the area and how remote this stuff really is. You wouldn't have got that experience driving.

From there, it's a quick walk over to the battery dunn installation. It's all covered up with massive concrete slabs and bricks. There were spots where it looked like people had tried to break through but it wouldn't be easy without some sort of jackhammer or something. And I'm pretty sure that if you started jackhammering the structure you'd get into trouble. It's pretty neat though. There are a few entrances to it and if you find the little path, you can climb up on top. I was hoping when I did that there might be a secret entrance to it or something, but no dice. It does bring you up to the 'awning' though if you wanted to stand on that for some reason. Apparently some people did, based on the graffiti tags.

Right in front of the battery dunn are a few covered up vents or shafts that indicate something is probably underneath it.

This is where a lot of conspiracy theorist types speculate that the experiments took place, underground near the tower and near the battery dunn. It seems obvious that something is under there, but whether or not it has anything to do with mind control, time travel or electromagnetic fields is anyone's guess. It's probably just old tunnels and stuff and they probably don't want people going down there because it's dangerous. It's fun to think about these things though.

That plane I mentioned? I got two shots of it, taken about half an hour apart:

These were taken with a basic 55mm lens, not any sort of zoom lens. So you can see that he was staying pretty close to the ground. You do definitely get the feeling that you're being watched while you explore the grounds, though that could have been all internal paranoia on my part.

After that we headed back to the car. I knew there were other buildings around that I wanted to check out and figured out what road they were off of, so we headed in that direction. After driving around the other side of the battery dunn we came across this:

And then I noticed that there was a little trail beside that building and wondered where it went.

As you go up the trail and around the back of that building, you'll see a window. Well, the window had been pulled out by some adventurous sorts and you could, with a little bit of leg work, hop right into the building. I didn't do that. That would be illegal. But I did take pictures through the opening.

On the right hand side of the trail was another building, and you can't really tell from the road but from the back/side area where the steps are, you can see that it's been busted wide open, possibly from a fire, possibly just from decay and weather.

Now, if you were brave and/or stupid, you could easily hop right into this building as the wall is completely missing in this part of the structure. I opted not to do that, as not only would it be illegal it would also probably be pretty dangerous. There was a lot of broken glass and wood and metal down there and to get in, you'd have to hop down as much of the building is below ground level.

I did, however, take some pictures:

Getting back to that little trail/stairs thing I mentioned earlier - if you follow it past those two structures into the brush a bit, you'll come to a fence. It seems like a curious place to put a fence at first, but it is definitely a fence and we all know you shouldn't climb fences. This fence, however, had a big hole in it.

Now I would never climb through a hole in the fence. That would be dangerous and considered to be trespassing. I would also never recommend anyone do something like that, instead, I would insist that if they wanted to explore that area they simply stick the camera through the whole in the fence and hope that you get interesting pictures.

They might look something like these. Maybe you would, completely by chance, get a shot of another shaft of some sort that again indicates an underground structure of some sort.

Or maybe you'd get some shots of some more random concrete buildings surrounded by brush.

Or maybe you'd see a really creepy looking building with brush and trees in front of it and a boarded up door.

And maybe, if you started paying attention, you'd realize that you just walked into the radar tower complex area from the opposite side, the one that was fenced off with all of those big 'NO TRESPASSING' signs and all the barbed wire. You might just look up and realize how close you were to the tower, that you were more or less standing about 30ft away from it.

If that were to happen, at that point you might hear that suspicious plane again, and have a mini freak out and think you were being watched committing a criminal act. Supposing that you did do that and have that experience, you might just then run through the brush, cut your leg up, and then hop into the car where you wife, who is generally smarter about these things than you are, was waiting.

Of course, this is all hypothetical. I can't rightly say what would really happen if you went through the fence or what you'd really find.

If you drive around some more there are more interesting buildings, all sort of in one area. Here's what I think might have been a chapel or church of some sort.

Then there's another, larger building, that from what I've read online may have been a bowling alley while the base was in use. It's not much from the front but it has a weird parking lot behind it. If you drive into the parking lot (if you don't have four wheel drive it might not be a good idea because it's very rocky and it's got a lot of big holes in it) you'll see this weird entrance.

If you look closely, someone has put Audrey Hepburn stickers on it. I don't know why.

Camp Hero is weird. It would be interesting to find out if there's any truth to any of the conspiracy theories surrounding it.
Anyway, after that we left and went to get Mexican food. The end.


alisonwonderland... said...

The... end?

KayLerRr said...

I would absolutely LOVE to go to Montauk... every since I saw Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind... I'd love to visit in the winter. I love the pictures and it was a great read!!! said...

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Alex McCann said...

This was very interesting, and I have a few questions if you don't mind since you were there. Im really interested in historical things like this, so if your up to answering questions I have about Camp Hero send me an e-mail to this.

Brainiac X said...

Damn shame the government enjoys closing off all the interesting buildings despite being abandoned, as well as making it illegal trespassing to even get near some of them.

I think the idea that they're doing it for our safety is nonsense. If that was the case, there'd be a lot of things we couldn't do, and places we couldn't go.

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larry smith said...

First off, I was stationed at Montauk from 1874 - 1978.
If you eliminate from your mind the modern day radar buildings what you have left is what looks like the buildings of a little fishing village at the far end of Long Island near the light house commissioned when George Washington was the first President of the United States.

It was made to look like a fishing village as a camouflage so that German submarines and warships would think that it was just a fishing village.
It was the buildings that housed the Army's original installation to watch out for German ships approaching the US.
The buildings look like actual houses from the sea.

About, as far as I can remember, were 4 buildings that housed Army barracks for troops.
These buildings looked like a person's actual home from the sea.
The church building was actually used for that purpose and also for a larger scale meeting room.
During my time, we had contracted and military clergymen who came to the site every 90 days or so to hold religious services and to meet the troops for their spiritual needs.

During my time, the 'church looking building' was a GYM for the site.

One concrete looking building was a Commissary and another was the small Base Exchange.
Once I had additional duty as the Noncommissioned Officer of the Day and armed with a side-arm I had to walk around these buildings to secure the back doors to check if there were no break-ins to steal money or food or materials.

I was stationed as NCOD in the multipurpose building which was a combination library room, two lane bowling alley, and movie theatre showing movies mailed in by the military using 2- 16mm projectors.
By pointing the NCOD in the library we could keep the library open until 10 p.m. for the folks at the site and their families.

The power distribution building was actually a reenforced concrete building with wooden siding on it to keep it from being destroyed by a German shell from ships at sea.

One building housed the Site Commander's office and First Sergeant and Orderly Room (administration), the medic's treatment room and the 1 chair dental room. A traveling dentist came to Montauk on rotational assignment. The dental technician took care of routine cleanings when scheduled.

Now, about the bunker.
The Bunker was from WWII build with concrete.
It was covered over by land and vegetation to look like a hill of sorts.
The large surface to sea GUN emplacement was there to shoot shells out to any German subs or ships.
After WWII the gun was dismantled and only the rails which the shells were rolled from the strong powder rooms which had steel doors incase there was an explosion which could be confined to individual rooms.

We used the bunker during my time as a fall out shelter should if there was to be a threat of a nuclear attack during the Cold War days.
Once inside the bunker the squadron people and their families could be sustained from fall out for 90 days.
The radars were left running and two maintenance and operations people were allowed to rotate in and out 2 hours at a time.
We had a decontamination station at the entrance where clothing were changed and troops were showered down and scanned with radiation detection devices.

And, basically, there you have it from my time there.

Larry Smith
USAF, Retired

larry smith said...

OOPS>>>>> I was stationed at Montauk from 1974 - 1978