Copyright © 2003-2011, Scott D.
3 Jul 2010 - Added additional photos.
24 Sep 2011 - Added Randolph AFB TX photos.
I made several road trips in 2003 using San Antonio as my base of operations. Some of the visits listed here are repeats from 1994 -- a film "incident" left me without photographs from my Harlingen - Brownsville - Laredo excursion. Others are first-time visits of places I didn't have mapped in 1994, or just didn't have time to visit. Also included here are 2004 photos of Randolph AFB. I had misplaced these images and was glad to rediscover them, especially since I had to get permission from the Public Affairs office to take them (thanks MSgt Roberts).
Saturday, 26 Apr 2003
Hitting the road at 0600, I headed down I-37 and US 281 to the Rio Grande Valley. My first stop was a reattack of Edinburg Auxiliary Field, at 26-26-30, 98-07-45. This was an auxiliary of Moore Field during W.W.II, and again (under Moore Air Base) in the 1950s. As far as I could tell, no W.W.II buildings remain. This is still an active airport, Edinburg International (25R), and it looks like part of the airfield is home to a drag strip.
Several miles to the east, I found the former Moore Air Base at 26-23, 98-20. Moore Field, a pilot training school, opened in 1941 and was declared surplus in 1945. After briefly serving as a municipal airport, it was reacquired by the USAF in 1953 for use as a contract flying school. In 1955, Moore Field was redesignated Moore Air Base, to conform to the naming convention then in use at other contract flying schools. Moore Air Base was inactivated in 1961, and disposed of in 1963. Currently, it is Moore Field Airport (7R7) owned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A sign on the fence still calls it Moore Air Base. This stop was also a reattack, but the rest of the day was devoted to new targets.
Now it was time to switch gears and find a couple former radar sites. The Delmita Gap Filler Annex along FM 2294, 26-38-52, 98-27-41, was first. The building is in good condition, and the three concrete footings for the radar tower are extant. This unattended radar site was operational from 1960 to 1963, and was reported excess in 1965. It was identified as TM-189A (supporting Zapata AFS), and also TM-191C (supporting Rockport AFS).
The next radar site on my list was something a bit different -- my first Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) site. The aerostat (blimp) was moored, instead of flying at altitude, making a great landmark as I approached. This site, officially Rio Grande Radar Site (TARS #6), is a detached leased installation of Langley AFB. It provides counterdrug surveillance. This site was activated in 1992.
Adding even more variety to this excursion, my next stop was a 19th century fort, last used by the Army during W.W.II. On the southeast side of Rio Grande City, I found the former Fort Ringgold. My interest was in that part of the fort gained by the Army Air Forces in 1941 for the use of Moore AAFld, and called Fort Ringgold Laundry. This property was declared surplus in 1945 and transferred to the Corps of Engineers in 1946. The fort is now used by the Rio Grande City schools, but being a Saturday I found no school officials to help me in my search for the former fort laundry. Based on clues in a brief description, it may be this building now used as a school cafeteria, at 26-22-36, 98-48-30 -- but more research is needed to verify this. Many of the fort's buildings still stand, including a house once inhabited by General Robert E. Lee. The parade ground is used for athletic fields, but the old flagpole still stands at one end.
Time for another change of pace, so I headed north (west, actually) on US 83 in search of a Navy radar site. Many researchers are familiar with the Navy's active Space Surveillance System, but did you know there was once a smaller setup (one transmitter site and one receiver site) in south Texas? Thanks to historian Michael Binder, I knew the locations of these facilities. This complex dates back to about 1965, and I'm not sure how long it was operational, or if it was just a short-lived experiment. Near the small town of Fronton, and only about one-half mile from the international border, I found the access road leading to the former transmitter site. Maps and aerial photos show what appear to be three buildings along the length of the transmitter property, but my search was thwarted by signage marking this as a wildlife refuge. A 1980 topographic map labels this site "NRL Field Station," NRL standing for Naval Research Laboratory.
Continuing on US 83, my next stop was just north of Zapata. Here, I found the former Zapata Air Force Station (TM-189), at 26-57-09, 99-16-32. This long-range radar site was only operational from 1957 to 1960. From outside the fence, it looked like many of the buildings were reasonably intact. The adjacent housing area was still in use as civilian housing. A few homes were empty and run down, but many were well-maintained and nicely-landscaped.
Continuing north on US 83, I reached Laredo and then headed back to San Antonio via I-35. This day's drive covered 636 miles, in just over 12.5 hours.
Sunday, 4 May 2003
With the standard 0600 start, I headed south on I-35. Passing through Laredo, then east on US 59, I made my way toward Oilton. Following this sign, posted on a building in town, I slowly drove the rutted, washboard road to Oilton Radar Site, SGZM. This installation had its start in 1972, as Oilton Missile Tracking Site. Consisting of one height-finder radar, it was redesignated Oilton Radar Site (Z-242) in 1982. The Air Force disposed of the site in 1989. About one-quarter mile from the original site, is an active FAA radar facility.
From Oilton, I reversed course and headed back toward Laredo. I stopped at the entrance to the former Laredo Air Force Auxiliary Field #2, 27-28, 99-14. This airfield was an auxiliary to Laredo AFB from 1953 to 1973. It is currently used as a testing facility, or proving ground.
Once back in the city, I braved the confusing streets of Laredo in my quest for Fort McIntosh. This nineteenth-century Army fort is located along the international border. Fort McIntosh is listed in the cross-reference listing of a 1942 Army Air Forces station list -- I'm not sure exactly why. The Army declared the fort surplus in 1946. In 1956, a portion of the fort (43 buildings, 28 of them family housing units) transferred to the USAF as Fort McIntosh Family Housing Annex. This housing area, centered at approximately 27-30-24, 99-31-23, supported Laredo AFB until 1972.
Next stop was Laredo Air Force Base, just a short drive across town at 27-32-30, 99-28-00. Now Laredo International Airport (LRD) and an industrial park, it has many aviation and non-aviation uses. There were still some visible clues to its Air Force existence. I noticed several different types of hangars, the control tower, a water tower, fire station, parachute drying loft, visiting officers quarters and other buildings remaining from USAF service. This location was home to a civilian airport in the 1930s, and Laredo Army Air Field activated here in 1942. Shut down after W.W.II, the airport was transferred to the City of Laredo. It was reactivated as Laredo AFB in 1952, serving until 1973.
Just across the road from the airport, I looked for traces of Laredo Army Airfield's Civilian War Housing, at 27-31-45, 99-28-14. A topo map from 1980 still shows the W.W.II Lanham Act housing, but it is all gone now. In its place are apartments, restaurants, stores, and a small amount of unused land.
The former Laredo Air Force Station, 5346, MVKH, is northeast of town on another beat-up dirt road. The facility, at 27-37-08, 99-23-12, now serves the county sheriff department as an impound lot. I found it gated and locked. I was able to glimpse a few of the structures from the southwest, at a high point on the public road. First known as Laredo Radar Annex, this site was operational in 1956. It was reactivated as Laredo Air Force Station (Z-230) in 1966, and used until approximately 1972.
From Laredo, I made my way to I-35 and headed back to San Antonio. This Sunday drive in the country covered 464 miles, in 9.5 hours.
Thursday, 15 May 2003
I spent the day in meetings on the west side of San Antonio. When the workday ended, I headed west to Hondo. First stop was a reattack of Hondo Air Base, 2409, KZKP, still used as a municipal airport. The USAF still uses the airport as an auxiliary field for Randolph AFB, and stores the ill-fated T-3 trainers here. Hondo AAFld was a busy navigator-training base in W.W.II, and was reactivated for pilot training in the Korean War. It served as the USAF's flight screening base for many years, using the T-41 trainer. Then came the short-lived T-3, and now the USAF uses this airport mostly as a touch-and-go location. Several old buildings are still standing on the former base, though some had quite a bit of storm damage.
A Lanham Act housing area for civilian war workers was built adjacent to Hondo AAFld, centered at 29-20-55, 99-09-36. This housing, shown in documents as Hondo Civilian War Housing, was also called Navigator Village. The apartments have long since been removed, and the area redeveloped. A couple of buildings on the site may be vintage.
Not far away, another housing area was built on the former AAFld property, this time in the 1950s. Hondo Housing Annex was centered on 29-21-13, 99-09-13. The small prefab homes are gone, and the area is now a trailer park.
South of the base, on a small hill, horizontal lighting was installed for pilots' safety. The Hondo Horizontal Lighting Site was located at about 29-20-33, 99-09-43, in the approximate location shown in this photo.
Saturday, 17 May 2003
It was finally time to make a reattack on Harlingen AFB, Laguna Madre Field, and Brownsville AAB. However, armed with much more information than I had 9 years ago, I added several other locations to round out this all-day trek.
My first challenge was to find the receiver site of the Texas NAVSPASUR fence, located near Raymondville at 26-29-33, 97-30-14. I found the locked access gate, and signs indicating this is now a private hunting club. This is the companion to the transmitter site I found on 26 Apr 2003.
Next stop was Harlingen Air Force Base, 1161, at 26-13-30, 97-39-00. I sure wish I had the photos from my 1994 visit, because this place has changed a lot since then. I found no trace of the tarpaper-walled huts I saw last time. New construction has sprung up all over the former base; several older hangars are the most obvious historical buildings, though I did notice these barracks.
Heading east toward the coast, I found the Port Isabel Housing Annex, 26-09-05, 97-21-00. This housing supported the nearby Port Isabel Air Force Station. The homes are now empty, with "U.S. Govt., No Trespassing" signs still posted on the perimeter fence.
Laguna Madre Field was a sub-base of Harlingen AAFld during W.W.II. It is currently Port Isabel-Cameron County Airport (T31), at 26-09-55, 97-20-50, although not open to the public. (The fenced flight line and security gate were not there in 1994.) Part of the access road is on former taxiways and parking ramp, which made it a fun drive. The security gate was a disappointment, so I settled for photographing the vintage hangar from a distance.
Also out of reach behind fences and gates is the former Port Isabel Air Force Station, 6864, a long-range radar site located on the former cantonment area of Laguna Madre Field. The field ended up in Navy hands after W.W.II, and they made considerable improvements including dormitories and other buildings that the Air Force used for the radar site in the 1950s. The radar site (TM-190), at 26-09-20, 97-20-16, was operational from 1959 to 1961.
On the east side of the airport, the Laguna Madre Gunnery Range consisted of several ground gunnery ranges, centered at about 26-10-50, 97-20-35. Some of them were the type called "Jeep ranges," having pathways to pull moving targets behind a Jeep. The distinctive berms of these ranges still show in aerial photos, so I was curious to see them in person. Turns out the entire acreage of the ground gunnery range ended up as part of the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, operated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. So, for a $3.00 fee, I was able to enter and see the eroded berms of some of the old firing ranges.
Heading further south, I revisited the former Brownsville Army Air Base, now Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport (BRO), 25-54-30, 97-25-30. Most buildings on the airport are post-war; one notable exception is the 1931 Pan Am building. The Brownsville NEXRAD site, operated by the NOAA, is also visible on the airport grounds.
From the airport, I made a short drive across town to Fort Brown. It is still identified as such, although military use ended after W.W.II. Now, it is home to a college, apartments, a hotel, and a golf course. A few vintage buildings are mixed in with new construction. At the golf course, I noted three historical markers. These were located at 25-53-25, 97-29-32. This is the most southern point I have visited in North America.
Last stop of the day was Riviera Gap Filler Annex, at 27-19-38, 97-44-36. Finding it was easy thanks to advance recon by Jerry Alexander, as documented on the radomes.org web page. The only clues I could see from the public road were the cinder block construction of the building, and the distinctive vent hood on the wall. This site (TM-191A) supported Rockport AFS from 1959 to 1963.
From there, U.S. 77 took me to I-37, then back to San Antonio. This was a long day -- 15 hours and 735 miles.
Monday, 26 May 2003
To celebrate Memorial Day, I sought out the only operational Nike IFC in Texas that I had not yet seen. West of Austin, I found the former Nike site BG-80C, off Bee Caves Road at 30-18-18, 97-50-24. Still used by the Army, the site has a Nike Hercules missile on display, just inside the gate.
Sunday, 1 Jun 2003
With a couple hours of free time, I decided to visit Brooks City-Base, 1670, CNBC. That's the new name for Brooks AFB, since it was conveyed to the Brooks Development Authority on 22 Jul 2002. It's now a technology and business center; the USAF remains as the main tenant on the property. I didn't see much difference since my last visit in 1994. The Brooks Air Force Base signs are mostly gone, and plastic banner-type signs advertising Brooks City-Base are posted on the perimeter fence. The gate is still guarded, and (more importantly) the old Hangar 9 still stands.
Not too far away, I found the location of one of Brooks Field's W.W.I auxiliaries. Shown as Palfrey Field on maps, it is located at 29-22-00, 98-25-30. This piece of land is home to a school, and part of the land is vacant.
While I was out, I motored over to Schertz, just east of Randolph AFB, to find the site of the former Randolph Waste Annex, 3413, TZAS. Located at 29-32-50, 98-15-45, it is part of the current Beck Landfill. It's visible in the background of this photo, taken from the landfill gate on FM Road 78.
Monday, 9 Jun 2003
Near the town of Marble Falls, I located the former Kelly Recreation Annex at 30-33-55, 98-20-36. The installation was also known as the Flying K Recreation Area: highway signs still use this name, even though the facility closed many years ago. It was used as a local park for some time after its service to Kelly AFB, but it now sits unused behind a locked gate.
Saturday, 14 Jun 2003
Driving east from San Antonio, I went north at Schulenburg and found the former Schulenburg Gap Filler Annex, 3669, at 29-45-43, 96-55-50. Acquisition of this radar annex was authorized in Jan 1957, and the lease was terminated in Dec 1961. The site (TM-192B) supported Killeen AFS, and was reportedly only operational during 1960. The building is in decent condition, and the three mounts for the radar antenna tower remain in place.
Not far from the former Bergstrom AFB, I looked for the former Bergstrom Communications Annex Transmitter, 3123, BJKC. I knew its location, centered at 30-11-41, 97-42-16. Due to industrial buildings and fences along two sides, and overgrown trees and brush on a third side, I couldn't see the site itself. Aerial photos still show the access road, but it was not noticeable from the highway. This property supported Bergstrom AFB from 1953 until sometime in the 1990s.
A short distance south of Randolph AFB, I made a reattack on the former Randolph Radio Range Annex, 1224. In 1994, the wooden poles from the radio range facility were still visible from the public road. Looks like the poles have been removed since then -- they were no longer visible. The access road was gated and locked, and heavy brush blocks the view from the road. This 25-acre property, at 29-29-21, 98-16-08, was purchased by the government in 1939, and served Randolph AFB until its disposal in 1960.
This Saturday drive covered 306 miles in about 6 hours.
Sunday, 15 Jun 2003
This afternoon I headed down to Floresville, to see the former Radio Beam Station that supported Brooks Field during W.W.II. The 13-acre site was located at 29-07-55, 98-10-18. It's now an undeveloped field with a large tree at the site center, approximately where the radio station building would have stood.
My previous attempt to find the former Randolph Communications Facility #2 (Receiver), 1223, had been made without benefit of TerraServer imagery. This time, I easily located the facility, at 29-33-11, 98-18-00, used as a public works compound. This 2.07-acre facility was purchased in 1953, and disposed of in 1966.
I also drove past the nearby Randolph Communications Facility (Transmitter), 1222, TYND, but found it unchanged from my last visit (see "Return to Randolph.")
I now had better knowledge of the Randolph Civilian War Worker Housing than on previous visits. The property is now home to several businesses and a motel, the original housing having long since been removed. The 3.65-acre property is centered approximately on 29-32-44, 98-17-09. Acquired in 1942, this Lanham Act housing served Randolph's civilian work force during W.W.II. It was transferred from the National Housing Authority to the AAF or USAF sometime before 1949, and was reported excess in Dec 1953.
Finding the former Randolph Pistol Range was tougher. This .52-acre property was located at approximately 29-32-31, 98-15-16, and was leased from 1943 to 1948. Access was probably along the left side of this road, which is now heavily overgrown. That's as close as I got.
Last visit of the day was the former Randolph Driver Training Range (also called Driver Training Course). This was a ribbon-shaped piece of land on Cibolo Creek, centered about 29-33-09, 98-17-00; and leased from 1943 to 1946. I don't know what type of driver training was conducted here, or why Randolph would lease a stretch of creek bed for driver training.
This was a 103-mile trip, taking 3 hours.
Sunday, 29 Jun 2003
Downtown San Antonio can be a crowded place. So, when I wanted to check out some addresses in the vicinity of the Riverwalk, I decided that first light on a weekend would be the best time. I exited I-37 at Commerce Street at about 0630, in search of some places used in W.W.I by the Air Service, and in W.W.II by the Army Air Forces.
Heading down South Flores Street, my first stop was 114 Camp Street, home to an Aeronautical Chart Regional Store, as listed in a 1945 Army Air Forces directory. I found an older, empty building I believe to be the place, at 29-24-45, 98-30-02. On my first visit, I noticed the name Tobin on the rooftop water tower, but I didn't realize the significance. I returned on 2 Nov 2003 and photographed another view of the building and a closeup of the water tower sign. Edgar Tobin was a World War I ace, and in 1928 he founded Tobin Aerial Surveys. This was the premier aerial mapping company of the era, and during W.W.II they mapped the United States for the U.S. government. This connection explains why this building in San Antonio held the unique title that it did.
Further south on South Flores, I found the location of a W.W.I branch warehouse of the Aviation General Supply Depot, at 1903 South Flores. The warehouse served the Air Service from 1917 until 1918, when the function was moved to Kelly Field. Located at 29-24-20, 98-30-10, It is now used by Alfa Food Equipment.
Heading north on South Flores, I passed right by the former San Antonio Arsenal, at 29-25-02, 98-29-45. I have found no indication of Air Service or Army Air Forces use of the arsenal property, but since it was along my path I include it here. Much of the property is used by a large grocery store company, and part by the U.S. government. One portion, containing the former commander's house, is a senior community center.
From South Flores I went east on West Market and found a place to park. Then, I walked to my next two objectives. During W.W.II, the AAF had a Surplus Property Storage Point at 330 East Commerce. I found a large and relatively new office complex, One Alamo Plaza, at 29-25-27, 98-29-29.
Further west, I found the Municipal Plaza Building at 114 West Commerce. During W.W.I, this address was listed for the main office of the Aviation General Supply Depot. Established at this location in 1917, the depot moved to Kelly Field in 1918. Coordinates are 29-25-29, 98-29-39.
Saturday, 12 Jul 2003
This was another mixed bag of reattacks and new targets. I departed at 0600, heading southwest. My first stop was the former Carrizo Springs Gap Filler Annex (TM-188A), 28-30-13, 99-49-58. The building was reasonably intact and appeared unused. The three tower supports were still in place. This gap filler was operational from 1959 to 1963, supporting Eagle Pass AFS.
Moving from the old to the new, my next visit was to the active Eagle Pass Radar Site (TARS #5). This is an Air Combat Command tethered aerostat radar site, activated in 1996 and supporting counterdrug operations. The aerostat was airborne, and I first saw it when I was still several miles from the site.
After that I paid a repeat visit to Eagle Pass Army Air Field, 28-51-20, 100-30-40. Much had changed since my first visit. In 1994, there was little beneficial use of the former auxiliary field known as Bowles Airport (5T9). Since then, an airport terminal has been built, and the still-sleepy airfield has the grand name of Maverick County Memorial International Airport (5T9)! Several business and government agencies have set up shop on the grounds, with new construction and fences blocking access to some areas I explored in 1994. Some distinctive Air Force buildings and structures still stand, others are falling down. The large hangar at the south end of the ramp has burned down.
The Eagle Pass Air Force Station, 28-51-40, 100-31-41, (radar site TM-188) was built on the airfield cantonment area in the late 1950s, and was operational from 1959 to 1963. It has suffered neglect, more neglect, vandalism, partial demolition, and did I mention neglect, since 1994. Several buildings including the gate shack and water tower still stand. The Air Force housing area is in perhaps better shape than it was nine years ago, with most units occupied as private residences. The main access road to the airfield has been widened and repaved. The modernization here is probably inspired by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
From Eagle Pass, I drove north past Del Rio to Comstock. North of town, I found the former Comstock Gap Filler Annex (TM-187B), 29-51-30, 101-09-44. The access road was gated and locked, but I could see the gap filler building from the highway. This gap filler was in use from 1960 to 1963, supporting Ozona AFS.
Driving back south to Del Rio, I located Del Rio International Airport (DRT), 29-22, 100-55. In the early 1970s, this airport was home to T-41 indoctrination training for Laughlin AFB. Now, it's a quiet little airport, despite its worldly title.
Only a couple miles from Laughlin AFB, I revisited the former Val Verde County Airport, 1202, 29-22-30, 100-49-25. This airport was leased in 1943 as an auxiliary to Laughlin Field. It was declared surplus in 1945, but was activated in 1952, again as an auxiliary of Laughlin. In 1957 it transferred from Air Training Command to Strategic Air Command, and in 1958 it was redesignated Laughlin Service Annex. It was disposed of in 1959. Housing developments cover most of the former airport, but the runways are still visible in aerial photos, cutting across the pattern of residential roads. I was able to drive on two of the three old runways, in an undeveloped corner of the airfield. (This confirmed my findings from 1994!)
Since I was in the neighborhood, I revisited Laughlin AFB, 1201, MXDP, and made the traditional BX stop.
From Laughlin, I headed east toward San Antonio. Near Bracketville, I observed the Bracketville NEXRAD Weather Site (DFX), an off-base installation of Laughlin AFB. The site is a typical WSR-88D weather radar facility. I arrived back in San Antonio at 1800, covering 587 miles in 12 hours.
Sunday, 20 Jul 2003
On the shore of Canyon Lake, I found the former Bergstrom Recreation Annex, BJJA, 30-26-23, 98-01-59. This annex was acquired for Bergstrom AFB prior to 1975, and was disposed of in 1993. After disposal, the property became the Lower Colorado River Authority's Camp Chautauqua, adjacent to Travis County's Pace Bend Park. The property is now gated, locked and unused. Pace Bend Park personnel report the area has not been used in a few years, and the cabins and other buildings have been removed.
Sunday, 27 Jul 2003
This was a day trip to Austin. The first and last stops were reattacks, with a few new finds in between. Bergstrom AFB, 1370, BJHZ, has changed quite a bit since I was stationed there in the 1980s. Now Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), 30-12, 97-40, new construction has obliterated most of the Air Force buildings. One notable exception is the former Twelfth Air Force headquarters building, which is now a Hilton hotel. To the east of the Hilton, the former base education center is intact. So is the "new" noncommissioned officer academy (NCOA), built in the early 1990s. I visited this school on the occasion of their final graduation in 1993 -- shortly before base closure. The "old" NCOA, where I worked 1985-89, was housed in two former dormitories. They have been demolished, and a rental car facility sits on that location.
I next tried to find the former Nike missile maintenance facility, at 4212 Willow Springs, in Austin. Well, that address no longer seems to exist. I found 4211, with this overgrown lot across the street at approximately 30-13-07, 97-45-45. However, the neighboring building is numbered in the 4300s. So, I'm not sure if that lot was the place, or if the actual site may have been renumbered. This facility was leased in 1959, and declared excess in 1961.
A W.W.I airfield was sited on Congress Avenue, at 30-13-40, 97-45-36, and I've driven past it many times without knowing it was there. This was a civil, rather than a military, airfield. Penn Field was connected with the University of Texas, and hosted a radio operator school in 1918 and 1919. Since about 2000, this formerly-dilapidated industrial area has been undergoing an architectural revitalization, and is now an attractive business complex. It was difficult to discern which buildings might have been original from the W.W.I era, although this elevated water storage tank with identification plate may be.
A W.W.II magnesium plant, belonging to the Defense Plant Corporation and known as Plancor 265, was located in northwest Austin at 30-23-20, 97-43-52. International Minerals Chemicals Corp. operated the 388-acre plant, which provided magnesium for aircraft production. It's now the J.J. Pickle Research Campus of the University of Texas at Austin. From outside the gates, I could not discern any of the original plant buildings.
Since I started my day by visiting the "new" Austin airport, it seemed appropriate to end my day's business by visiting the "old" Austin airport, at 30-18, 97-42. In W.W.II, Austin Municipal Airport was used as an auxiliary field by Bergstrom Field. It eventually became Robert Mueller Airport, and closed when Austin-Bergstrom International opened. The control tower stands, as do the airport access roads with overhead signs, and the parking areas with their access gates and tollbooths. But the terminal building itself has been demolished, making an eerie setting. Some of the older buildings on the general aviation side of the airport are still standing.
This was a 7.25-hour trip, covering 210 miles.
Saturday, 9 Aug 2003
Another full day of fun; 2 repeat visits and 7 new finds. Heading out at 0600, my first stop was 3105 Leopard Street, Corpus Christi, 27-47-47, 97-25-29. Leased space (4,000 square feet) in the Republic Building was home to an Air Defense Filter Center, serving Air Defense Command from 1955 to 1958. The building has changed hands several times since then. I saw no obvious signs of the Air Force presence, although this windowless addition in the rear of the building may be a clue.
From Corpus Christi, I made my way north to Rockport. The current Aransas County Airport (RKP), 28-05-30, 97-03-00, was the Navy's Rockport Outlying Field during W.W.II, supporting Rodd Field Naval Air Station. A couple of older-looking hangars remain, near a newer terminal building.
Adjacent to the airport, at 28-05-35, 97-02-47, sat an Air Force radar site. Rockport Air Force Station, 3299, was also known as site TM-191, and served from 1959 to 1963. I could see various buildings (some in better condition than others) from outside the gates of the radar site. From one access path I could see a set of four foundation blocks. The adjacent former family housing area still stands and the units are occupied.
Next stop was Victoria, and I started on the west side of the city with the former Aloe Army Air Field, 28-47, 97-06. This W.W.II airfield is now an industrial park, and looked much as it did on my first visit in 1994. A highway now slices across the runways, and I could see part of a runway on the far side of the highway. Since then, I've learned of two additional points of interest at the airport.
In 1958, a portion of the former airfield were leased for a radar site, known on Corps of Engineers plans as Victoria Air Force Station. The site was never built, and the lease was terminated in 1959. The bulk of the land for the planned radar site now sits empty, centered at about 28-46-19, 97-05-11.
Adjacent to the airfield, along US Highway 59 at 28-46-00, 97-04-43, sits a tract of land that was the Aloe civilian war worker housing area during W.W.II. The houses are long gone, but remnants of sidewalks can be seen off the U-shaped road that served this Lanham Act housing development.
Driving through Victoria to the east, I found the current Victoria Regional Airport (VCT), at 28-51-25, 96-55-05. The former Foster Air Force Base, 2127, also looked much the same as it had in 1994. A few of the several hangars showed damage -- possibly from the recent hurricane. The older barracks are being reclaimed by trees and brush, though a few dorms are relatively intact. The control tower sits unused. An F-101 Voodoo sits on display.
Since my earlier visit, I had learned of a Lanham Act housing project for Foster Field, centered at 28-50-15, 96-55-26. The Foster civilian war worker housing area is indicated on W.W.II-era plans, but I cannot find any signatures in topographic maps or recent aerial photos (both vertical and oblique). The location is part of a larger overgrown area.
Since I was so close, I drove over to see the Matagorda Tethered Aerostat Radar Site (TARS #7). This site was activated in 1993, and it looks much like the other facilities in the system.
On the return drive, I encountered this bit of nostalgia, the Tee Pee Motel, in Wharton. This trip covered 642 miles, in 13.5 hours.
Saturday, 11 Sep 2004
Randolph was a busy base so I had to take photos on a weekend, after getting permission from Public Affairs.
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