Believe it or not, there are hundreds of abandoned military bases in the US. Some scattered across the countryside, others tucked away on the outskirts of large cities. You’d be surprised to find what’s buried beneath your feet!
In this article, we’ll explore 7 abandoned military bases you can find in the United States.
1. Abandoned Nekoma Pyramid, North Dakota
Known to locals as the ‘Pyramid Of North Dakota” the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex was actually part of the anti ballistic missile system known as the Safeguard Program which built America’s nuclear missile fleet from long range attacks over the north pole.
The site didn’t last long. Less than a year in operation the site was decommissioned due to it’s ineffectiveness against the now larger soviet threat.
For nearly 50 years the base has fallen in a state of decay. Water leaking into the underground halls, and moisture peeling away the paint. Today the property is privately owned by a farmer. It’s fate is unknown.
2. Abandoned Missile Bases & Silos
All across the central and western parts of the US are abandoned Titan missile silos. These abandoned military bases housed some of the most devastating nuclear weapons ever built during the cold war.
Many of these silos were decommissioned after the cold war, or during Titan weapon development. The Titan was improved upon so quickly that often times the silos would be completed, only for them to be obsolete.
Many of these sites were abandoned and have become flooded over the years. A number of properties have been purchased for restoration.
In the Midwest dozens of NIKE bases sit tucked away and abandoned on the outskirts of large cities such as Philadelphia and Washington DC. NIKE missiles were America’s last defense against enemy aircraft and ballistics.
Below, people now dive the old Titan I silo in Washington state.
Unlike the Titan silos, these NIKE bases had shallower tunnels that connected smaller surface to air missiles systems to protect important industrial cities during World War II.
When the soviets developed their own ICBMs, NIKE sites were obsolete. By 1980 nearly all sites and their weapons had been decommissioned. You can find NIKE bases tucked away rusting in woodlands surrounding major cities on the eastern seaboard.
Most NIKE sites were left to rot or repurposed for storage. One of the schools I grew up near parked their city buses over a paved over NIKE launch area. There are considerably more NIKE sites left than ICBM silos accessible today as most are flooded out, locked down, or filled in.
Silo and missile bases that are still accessible pose a number of dangers and risks. Explorers have fallen to their death or even suffocated to death underground due to poison gas build up and oxygen deficient tunnels.
3. Fort Jefferson, Florida
Possibly one of the oldest abandoned military bases is located in the middle of the ocean, just west of Key West. Fort Jefferson was built back in 1825 to protect the coastline and neighboring Caribbean islands from pirates.
The fort had and ingenious design that protected it both from the harsh winds, as well as incoming attacks. Water was a major challenge since the only water around the fort was salt water. To remedy this, a series of cisterns caught rain water for drinking. Steam condensers also worked to desalinate sea water.
As time went on, piracy became less of a threat and the fort was used as a makeshift Civil War prison. The fort was officially abandoned in 1869. Today you can reach the island by ferry from Key West daily.. Anyone who appreciates history or who loves old architecture will find this base fascinating.
4. Fort Pike, New Orleans
Although it was abandoned, Fort Pike has stood the test of time and still remains standing some 200 years later. Shortly after the War Of 1812, Fort Pike was constructed right outside of New Orleans to protect the coastline from British invasion.
Union soldiers later captured the fort in 1862, using it as an operating base for raids in the south. It was eventually completely abandoned in 1890. The Fort had not fired a single shot during it’s time in operation.
As the fort eroded into the sea it was listed as a historic site and turned into a state park in 1972. The fort had it’s latest skirmish in 2005 when hurricane Katrina slammed into the coastline damaging the fort’s foundation.
At this time the fort is off limits due to repairs, but if you’re in the area, this is not a place you’d want to pass up.
5. Fort Tilden, New York
Before becoming another abandoned military base in the US, Fort Tilden has served in 3 wars before being decommissioned. Constructed initially in 1917, the fort was used to protect New York city and the surrounding harbors during World War I.
It wasn’t until World War II that the giant concrete casemate was put in place to protect the 16″ gun enclosed inside. After the war it was determined that the current weapon system was ineffective and it was dismantled.
The fort was reactivated again in the 1950s as the cold war began to heat up. Fort Tiden was outfitted with anti aircraft guns, but then was upgraded to house the Nike Hercules missile system with nuclear strike capabilities.
Like all Nike sites, Fort Tilden was decommissioned after ICBMs became the latest in long range missile technology. By 1995 the Fort was completely abandoned.
Today vines overflow from the sides of the concrete structure and graffiti covers most of the front and back. Fort Tilden is a unique place and with a great view of the beach and well worth the trip.
6. North Concord Air Force Station, Vermont
This abandoned air force base in Vermont was once part of the North Concord Radar Station perched on East Mountain.
In the 1950s this radar had it’s eyes and ears pointed to the skies to detect soviet nuclear activity across the world. Today is rusts away isolated in the Vermont wilderness.
Constructed in 1956 this Air Force station housed up to 175 men around the clock. Alongside detecting nuclear strikes, their duties also included identifying aircraft approaching the area as well as directing airstrikes if under attack.
The Air Force station has been the scene of some strange and extraterrestrial events. The famous Barney and Betty Hill abductions allegedly took place near the base. A dozen or so witnesses claimed to see a large floating unidentified object in the area during the time the couple claimed to have been abducted.
In addition, there are also stories of a man riding snowmobile a decapitating himself on a cable that was used to fence off the property. I was unable to verify if that actually took place, or was part of local folk lore.
No matter what you believe, the radar tower provides breath taking views of the Vermont countryside and a rare glimpse back to our cold war past.
7. Adak Station, Alaska
Our last abandoned US military base in this list takes us all the way to islands of far western Alaska. Adak Station was built during the Aleutian Island Campaign where the United States and Japan fought to control key islands that would allow either side a massive advantage when launching a coastal or airborne attack during World War II.
The construction of the base in 1942 allowed the United States to successfully repel the Japanese from the neighboring Kiska Harbor. Over 1000 bombs were dropped on Kiska which completely crippled any offensive capabilities the Japaneese had. You can still see craters from the bombing run on Google Maps.
A surprise attack was also launched on the island of Attu which completely removed Japanese forces from the isles. You can just barely make out the overground foundations and ruins on Attu from Google Maps.
In the 1950s Adak Station would prove to be play an important role in carrying out anti-submarine and recon missions against soviet vessels. The station also played a vital role in the refueling of stealth reconnaissance aircraft.
After the fall of the Soviet Union the base fell quiet. In 1997 the station was decommissioned and most of the troops were relocated. Today the station and it’s barracks sit empty in the frigid Alaskan air.
You can visit Adak Station as it is extremely well preserved for it’s age. You can also visit the ruins of Attu and Kiska that is if you can find a way to get to them.
Out of all the abandoned military bases in the US, these were my top 7 favorite. Let us know what your favorites are in the comments below.