The NEW Area 51
On this small rise sat a group of, for lack of a better word, structures. All were surrounded by a 10 foot chainlink fence. But the gates were wide open. No ominous warning signs forbidding trespassing, no signs prohibiting photography and no mention of the "Use of Deadly Force". I almost expected to see a WELCOME sign hanging from the cracked insulation of the telephone wires!
Once inside the gate the road branches off in three directions. The center road leads to the launch control bunker, while the left and right forks lead to a garage and the three missile launching platforms.
The launch control bunker, almost completely buried under protective dirt, is, like most of the structures, showing signs of long neglect, not to mention vandalism and graffiti.
The concrete wall, the only one not covered by dirt, has the entrance door. The small sheet metal building in the foreground holds an AC power frequency converter and what's left of the power distribution panel. I suppose the only reason the frequency converter is still there is its massive size and weight.
The front door to the bunker was wide open but the control room is deep inside and very dark. I picked up a couple flashlights from my van, checked that my camera was set on flash and headed inside.
Inside, it took a few minutes for my eyes to become accustomed to the near darkness. I stood still, not wanting to trip over the cables, furniture, expensive equipment or any gray aliens that may be hanging around. But once my eyes adjusted to the dark, I realized that I was in an almost empty room.
The equipment racks in the photo, plus four more to the right in an alcove, were all that was left. One of those in the alcove was tipped over and it contained a '60s era data recorder. That was the only piece of equipment that remained. The recorder was damaged, but I could tell it used reel to reel tape for storage and nostalgically noted the most of the electronics used tubes.
The cables coming into the racks were simply cut - hacked may be a better word - close to the missing equipment. Wires not only hang in the racks, but from the ceiling in many places where you least expect it. (Watch your head!) Copper wire seems to be unclassified.
On a historical note, the photo on the left is a close-up of the labels on the racks shown in the above photo. Although WSMR is an Army facility, it shows these racks are property of the Air Force and that the place was inventoried in 1973 by Celesco Industries. Today Celesco is a large contractor, supplying measurement and test equipment to both private industry and many branches of the Federal government.