Peninsula Military Sites

 

Camp Patrick Henry:

Jake on D Street

9th Street

old building foundation

fire hydrant, from 1942

old water tank, hidden in the woods

Nike radar site:

abandoned building, and mysterious locked dumpster

one of four radar towers, with Jake for scale

Nike missile site:

entrance hatch?

missile elevator doors

assembly building, missile carriage, Jake

barracks building?

 

Having a free weekend, I took a trip out to Virginia Beach to visit my friend Jake. We headed up to Newport News, where he showed me some cool abandoned military sites he had found.

The first site was the abandoned Camp Patrick Henry. This was originally a staging area for troops headed overseas during WWI and WWII, and was deactivated in 1949. Nowadays, all that is left is a grid of paved roads, a lot of fire hydrants, and ruins of a few of the buildings. It's actually a pretty peaceful wooded area, it's hard to imagine the place full of camouflaged barracks, housing thousands of troops waiting to head overseas to fight the Nazis.

The second place we visited was an abandoned cold war-era Nike radar site adjacent to Camp Patrick Henry. This site was pretty heavily overgrown with weeds, but we were still able to get to a few of the buildings. It'd be much easier to explore in the wintertime, though. There were four tall towers, that used to house the radar used to aim Nike surface-to-air missiles. For more information on the Nike missile system, check out this very informative website: http://ed-thelen.org/.

The third place we explored was an abandoned Nike missile launch site. (Each Nike location had its missile and radar sites located up to several miles apart, so in many instances only one or the other will still be standing. This missile site is unrelated to the radar site we explored.) At first I was confused - this just appeared to be a flat slab of concrete, with a few buildings in the distance. Jake pointed out that there were metal hatches in the concrete: some were locked entranceways into a bunker beneath, and some were large doorways that the missiles would rise out of before being launched. It was crazy thinking of an abandoned missile magazine right beneath my feet. And these would have been nuclear anti-aircraft missiles! Jake then showed me the assembly building, where the missiles were put together (and, I assume, fueled), and the blast barrier between the assembly building and the launch site. Past the assembly building were other buildings, that I assume were barracks and other facilities for the crews in charge of the missiles.

Oh yeah, at one point on our trip we had to climb an 8' chain-link fence (hey, there weren't any "keep out" signs!). I made it over no problem, but Jakes shoelace snagged on the top of the fence... Have you ever seen someone fall face first into a salt marsh from 8 feet up? Once we realized that he was (mostly) unhurt, it was pretty damn funny. Thanks to Jake for some great exploring!

 

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