Crazy from the Heat

Copyright © 1998-2010, Scott D. Murdock
18 Nov 2002 - Added additional photos.
14 Nov 2010 - Added additional photos, upgraded existing photos.

Second hottest summer on record in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex (so far). Good time to get away for a few days, preferably to a cooler climate. Let’s see, Colorado was nice a few weeks ago, and I still had plenty to see in that neck of the woods.
Thursday, 23 Jul 1998

Las Animas Auxiliary Field, Las Animas, Colorado, 38-08-45, 103-15-30 - So close and yet so far. I was able to go north on the dirt road leading from town, but was stopped by a fence and gate where I would have turned west to the field. The "road" leading to the coordinates was little more than a pair of wheel ruts. I snapped a picture of the ranchland in the general direction, from about one mile east of the listed coordinates, and backtracked. Sure wish mapping software would show gates!

La Junta AAFld and La Junta RBSS, La Junta, Colorado, 38-03, 103-31.  This is now the La Junta Municipal Airport (LHX). Not much on the airport from the W.W.II days. One hangar and a few smaller buildings, including the golf course clubhouse, have a vintage look to them. The Radar Bomb Scoring Site, which is still active, is situated at the southeast corner of the ramp. The main building is labeled LeMay Tech Ops Center.  Lots of unusual antennae are present.

Friday, 24 Jul 1998

Francis E. Warren AFB, Cheyenne, Wyoming, 41-10, 104-50 - Drove right by this base back in 1981; but this was my first real visit to the installation. Visited the civil engineer and obtained small but useful copies of layouts for the Pole Mountain and Encampment annexes. Looked over the base, which has lots of historical buildings. Toured the museum, which has some nice Atlas and Minuteman displays.

Cheyenne Municipal Airport, Cheyenne, 41-09, 104-49 - My records show two distinct installation codes here, Cheyenne MAP ANG (DPEZ), ANG, and Cheyenne MAP (DPFA), SAC.  Not sure what the latter consists of but the former is the ANG facility at the northern end of the airport.   Paused here to look at the F-86 and T-33 gate guards. If anyone is familiar with these two installations and can sort them out for me, please do!

Saturday, 25 Jul 1998

Francis E. Warren AF Missile Site #10, Briggsdale, Colorado.  To the untrained observer this former Atlas E site would be unrecognizable. The fence posts of the security fence still stand, but the chain link fencing is down. The access road leads in, and starts down toward the missile bay -- then ends in a huge pile of dirt. Yes, this site is buried -- the entire front door (missile entry), overhead door (missile exit), and flame pit are covered with earth! Only a few feet of the right-side retaining wall are visible, confirming that they were not demolished. Other piles of dirt seem to be randomly scattered over the area, but to the trained eye they correspond with various ventilators and other protuberances. The only obvious features are the fence line with gate, access road leading down the ramp, one well house, a concrete pad, the spray pond, and the communications silo—which has a boulder on the hatch. Although not marked with any signs (not even a Keep Out), I believe this site is owned by the U.S. Forest Service, as part of the Pawnee National Grassland.

Francis E. Warren AF Missile Site #12, Greeley, Colorado.  This was the big disappointment of this trip. Not the Atlas E site, which is in great shape, but the poor planning of my visit. I had learned this site was part of a county park and was open for visitors. What I had not learned was, you have to make advance arrangements for a conducted tour, by calling county officials during normal business hours.  Viewer James Kirkpatrick reported the number has changed to (970) 356-4000, extension 4831.  The park itself is on the outside of the security fence, which is still very secure. Frustrated, I walked the perimeter and photographed what was visible. The security fence seems to have been partially relocated, as the spray pond and communications silo are outside the present fence line. A water system building still stands. Inside the fence, most of the original stacks and vents appear intact. In a nod to an earlier time, part of the parking area of the park is covered with PSP! This Atlas E site transferred directly from the USAF to the county, and the county has used it continuously. So it has been spared the neglect and abuse many former missile sites have suffered. I shall return, with a confirmed tour next time!

Greeley ANG Station, Greeley.   Situated next to the Greeley Airport. This is a mobile space warning outfit, with lots of specialized-looking trucks. And an A-7 standing guard!

Lamar Communications Facility Annex, Lamar, Colorado, 37-55-23, 102-36-41 - I inquired about this one on my inbound leg, but since I had already past it when I learned the location, saved the visit for the return leg. It is about 11 miles south of town, to the east of Highway 287 (I had driven right past it without realizing it). USAF signs are still in place, although the facility has been closed for many years. The newest lettering proclaimed it as "OL A, NORAD COMBAT OPERATIONS CENTER, HF TACTICAL RADIO STATION, LAMAR COLORADO." The still-visible lettering underneath this said "NORAD ADC, TACTICAL RADIO STATION, 47 COMMUNICATIONS GP." I was told by locals this facility was built in about 1966, at or nearly at the same time as the adjacent AT&T microwave facility.  This former Cold Warrior was gated and locked.  Note the two UHF Ground Entry Point antennas and the nuclear blast detector on the neighboring AT&T site

Sunday, 26 Jul 1998

Dalhart Ground Gunnery Range, Dalhart, Texas, 35-58-45, 102-31 - Drove along the western border and along part of the southern border. No traces of AAF use were visible from the public roads.

Dalhart AAFld, Dalhart, 36-01, 102-33 - Two of approximately six original hangars still stand. Lots of foundations are still present. The most distinctive feature is the large, concrete, cylindrical tower with a slightly-overhanging platform on top. This unusual tower supported a water tank, and I was to see two more towers just like it within a few minutes. A prison has been built on the southwest part of the airport.

Dalhart AF Auxiliary Field #1, Dalhart, 36-01, 102-41 - Gated and locked, with the concrete sides of a demolished hangar visible. The concrete water tower still stands -- a landmark visible for miles. A lone tractor-trailer rig was parked in the distance, and there were several large piles of gravel nearby. Unable to determine ownership or use.

Dalhart AF Auxiliary Field #2, Dalhart, 36-05-45, 102-25-45 - In use as Miller Field (2E1), a small crop dusting operation. Again, my first visual clue of the field was the concrete water tower. The concrete sides of a former hangar have been converted into sheds. I didn't notice it until years later, but one of my photos captured the remnants of the Norden bombsight storage building!

Amarillo AFB, Amarillo, Texas, 35-14, 101-42 - Not much here to remind one of the Air Force.  This airport, Amarillo International (AMA), has a modern terminal and control tower, and a multi-level parking garage.  I saw no sign of the former AC&W area.

Quite a jam-packed four-day weekend—my favorite kind! Covered just under 2,000 miles.