Ghost Town: Green River Missile Base

Discussion in 'Ghost Town Database' started by cruiseroutfit, Dec 10, 2017.

  1. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator & Supporting Member Supporter Contributor Registered

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    Site: Green River Missile Base
    Alternate Names: White Sands Missile Range Green River Test Site, Green River Launch Complex, New Area 51, Atlantic Research Green River Test Complex
    County, State: Emery County, Utah
    Years of Occupation: 1962-1973, sporadic use thereafter. Abandoned as of current.
    Status of Site: Partially Open
    Classification: Class 3 - Abandoned Town
    Type: Military
    Remnants: Various buildings, bunkers and sites throughout the southern portion of Green River City and beyond town to the south and east.
    GPS Coordinate: Various location, see location information below.
    NRHP Reference#: N/A
    Date of Last Visit: December 30, 2017 ExpeditionUtah site survey
    Previous visit April 20, 2014 ExpeditionUtah site survey

    identify_2 (Small).png
    Green River Missile Base Site - Date Unknown

    Millions have driven right past it, nearly all of them didn't even look twice at the abandoned buildings south of Interstate 70 as they zoomed on by. Amongst the homes and businesses of Green River Utah lies one of the most unknown military installations in the West, the Green River Missile Base. Its mission wasn't so much secret nor clandestine rather its story is simply forgotten to the passing years, a victim of forgotten generations. In fact the Green River Missile Base and its outlying buildings nearly doubled the population of Green River during much of the 60's and 70's during the bases prime range of operation. Here is the Green River Missile Base story:

    athena_flight.jpg


    Site History:


    PROJECT ATHENA . . . The Green River Test Complex, 1963-1966
    Utah Historical Quarterly - Spring, 1966 - Volume 34 - Number 2
    http://digitallibrary.utah.gov/awweb/awarchive?type=file&item=34636

    For some time the Ballistic Systems Division of the United States Air Force Systems Command was concerned about the high cost of testing re-entry systems. In 1961 the AFSC instituted, as part of the Advanced Ballistic Re-entry System program (ABRES), the Athena program which was aimed at improving ballistic penetration through the use of smaller, less expensive missiles than those flown from the eastern and western test ranges at Cape Kennedy, Florida, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The BSD officials concluded that if they could develop scaling laws, a smaller missile could do the same job as a larger Atlas or Titan and that the results from the smaller projectile could then be scaled up to fit the larger and more costly rockets.

    The Air Force had conducted some re-entry type experiments at the Army's 4,000 square-mile White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. But to make test flights at re-entry velocities ABRES had to find a launch site from which missiles could be projected from some distance to the White Sands site. It was necessary that overland test flights dislocate and inconvenience as few people as possible. After considerable research, the Department of Defense concluded late in 1962 that shots from Green River, Utah, would inconvenience only 32 people, and so Green River was chosen. It is some 425 miles northwest of the impact area of White Sands.

    At first, there was considerable local and state apprehension over the establishment of the missile base near Green River. Lieutenant Colonel August T. McColgan, former information officer at White Sands, met with the Green River Chamber of Commerce to allay such fears. He said that the town would grow accustomed to the noise after the first couple of shots, and that there would be no hazard to the town. The government contracted to pay per diem to ranchers for evacuating during Athena firings and to reimburse them for any damage which the test did to their property.

    A major concern was associated with the area of the drop zone of the first-stage booster rocket. The impact dispersion area lay about 45 miles southeast of Green River, between the Colorado River and the north edge of the Manti-LaSal National Forest. About five per cent of the zone was within the Canyonlands National Park, and there was some fear that park visitors might be in danger. Service officials pointed out that they would give 24 hours notice before any launch and post signs at all roads entering the drop area. After these assurances, state officials agreed that the Defense Department could locate the site at Green River.

    athena_flight2.jpg

    Concurrently with obtaining agreements with the owners in the safety areas, the Army Corps of Engineers had begun construction at the cantonment and assembly areas, which were located approximately two miles southeast of Green River. The Utah State Land Board granted a right-of-entry to 1,600 acres of state land, and the Bureau of Land Management issued a special permit to the Corps of Engineers for 11,098 acres. Low bidder for the basic construction was the Olson Construction Company of Salt Lake City, which bid $1,235,072. The contract included support structures, utilities, and roads. Later construction has increased the value of the installation to more than $3 million.

    The Green River Launch Facility is actually an Army installation which is operated in connection with the White Sands Missile Range, with the Air Force as a tenant. The Air Force Ballistic Systems Division at Norton Air Force Base near San Bernardino, California, directs the missile program, and the Ogden Air Materiel Area at Hill Air Force Base near Sunset, Utah, has support responsibilities for the installation. OOAM A stores the Athena rocket motors in ammunition igloos at Hill AFB and sends calibration specialists to calibrate missile control instruments at the Green River site. Prime contractor for the Air Force program is the Atlantic Research Corporation of Alexandria, Virginia, through its offices in Duarte, California. Other contractors include Dynalectron and American Vitro Corporation (AVCO).

    The facility consists basically of three areas. The first of these is the cantonment area near Green River, supported and maintained by Dynalectron's Land-Air Division which succeeded Bendix Field Engineering Corporation in this capacity on February 1, 1965. This area includes 59 trailers used as bachelor officers' quarters, offices, a mess hall, a laundry, and a latrine. There are seven prefabricated buildings for supply, a telephone exchange, and engineer and transportation use. Adjacent to the cantonment area are storage facilities for the Athena missile rocket motors.

    Although near the cantonment area, the second area, the Atlantic Research Corporation Assembly Area, is outside the actual limits of the government-controlled complex. It occupies the facilities originally constructed for the Union Carbide Uranium Company, which had produced uranium and vanadium in the 1940's and 1950's.

    The third, or launch area, is almost five miles down range from the assembly area. It consists of a fall-back area, a blockhouse, three concrete launching pads, and various meteorological system component facilities.

    The assembly areas and housing area at Green River comprise 44 acres, the operations are contained in 3,546 acres, and the safety area is 12,000 acres. All land areas were acquired through cooperation of the individual landowners and without condemnation proceedings. White Sands Missile Range holds the land under an exclusive use lease with renewal options through June 30, 1968.

    The Athena, which is the test vehicle for the ABRES program, is a 4-stage, 50-foot, 8-ton, solid-fuel missile which can simulate the speeds and re-entry phenomena of the much larger intercontinental ballistic
    missiles. It incorporates an altitude control system for terminal guidance and has two basic configurations enabling re-entry angles of 21 and 43 degrees. The Athena carries a nominal payload of 50 pounds and its re-entry velocity is approximately 23,000 feet per second. The major part of the Athena is produced by Utah companies. The first stage consists of a Thiokol XM-33 E8 Castor missile, augmented by two XM-19 EL Recruits, both of which are products of Thiokol's Wasatch Division (west of Brigham City). The second stage consists of either a Thiokol T X 261-2 for low angle re-entry or the Hercules X259-A4 for high angle reentry tests. The fourth stage is a Hercules BE-3 Ranger (Bacchus). The third stage — the only stage not produced in Utah — is an Aerojet General 30KS-1100. The payloads themselves are produced by General Electric, Lockheed, AVCO, Sperry (Salt Lake City), and other companies.

    Several problems are being studied in the current set of test firings, which began in 1964 and have recently been rescheduled to last through 1967. During Athena flights, data are gathered by sophisticated radar and other instrumentation installed at White Sands. Preliminary test firings made in February and May 1964 failed, but later firings were concluded successfully. The original 77 launches announced in the series were to cost $65 million, but a new contract for $14 million will allow 36 subsequent launches. The initial tests were successful, and with the new contract, it is possible that the Green River range may develop into a permanent low-cost site for testing small scale re-entry vehicles for larger rockets.

    1509782_10151822019125940_2008784593_n.jpg 1016322_10151822019115940_1394365498_n.jpg 1524699_10151822019110940_1989825148_n.jpg

    In addition to the service it performs for the Department of Defense, the Green River Test Complex provides another example of the positive impact of the federal government upon the economy of a Utah community. By December 1963, 136 persons had already been employed at the installation. Atlantic Research Corporation had opened nearly a full block of offices at the site, and the bulk of the personnel was finding homes in Green River, though some lived at Price, Dragerton, and Moab. By 1963 approximately 450 persons were employed at the base, with a payroll in excess of $3 million yearly. This installation has undoubtedly provided a shot in the arm for Emery County which, owing to difficulties in the coal industry, underwent a decline in population between 1950 and 1960.

    Directions to Get There:
    All of these sites are located within a 10-15 drive of Green River, Utah and many locations (Site #13-21) are on the north side of Interstate 70 on the outskirts of town proper. Please use the coordinates above for precise site locations.

    Accessibility:
    The site is currently in a limbo stages, most recently undergoing ground sample analysis to determine what if any remediation work needs to be completed.

    Further Reading:
    http://content.lib.utah.edu/cdm/search/collection/GRMB
    http://www.clui.org/newsletter/summer-1997/utahs-green-river-complex-called-new-area-51
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_River,_Utah
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_River_Launch_Complex
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Sands_Missile_Range
    https://sites.google.com/site/playi...ing-With-Fire/contents/test-sites/green-river
    http://utahbruteforce.com/bruteforce/2013/01/white-sands-10-mile-washgreen-river-moab-utah.html
    http://destinationgreenriver.com/green-river-missile-launch-facility/
    http://digitallibrary.utah.gov/awweb/awarchive?type=file&item=34636
    http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a175824.pdf
    http://coldwartourist.com/utah_launch_complex
    http://www.ecprogress.com/news/what...cle_3ff1910d-984a-5441-b7de-659b05440926.html
    http://www.placesthatwere.com/2016/05/green-river-launch-complex-abandoned.html
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 2, 2018
  2. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator & Supporting Member Supporter Contributor Registered

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    Location Information:

    Cantonment (Headquarters) Area
    Site #21 - Warehouse - 38.984516, -110.142869
    Site #22 - Base Headquarters - 38.985901, -110.142970
    Site #22a - Fire Station - 38.986038, -110.143156
    Site #22b -
    Site #22c - Church, Recreation Hall & Gym - 38.985410, -110.140088
    Site #22d -
    Site #22e -

    Site_22 (Small).JPG
    Cantonment (Headquarters) Area

    headquarters (Small).jpg
    Site #22 - Base Headquarters - 38.985901, -110.142970

    Site_22a (Small).png
    Site #22a - Fire Station - 38.986038, -110.143156

    Site_22a (1) (Small).JPG
    Site #22a - Fire Station - 38.986038, -110.143156

    Site_22a (Small).JPG
    Site #22a - Fire Station - 38.986038, -110.143156

    Site_22c (Small).JPG
    Site #22c - Church, Recreation Hall & Gym - 38.985410, -110.140088
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017
  3. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator & Supporting Member Supporter Contributor Registered

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    Barracks/Housing Area:

    Site #9 - Housing/barracks - 38.970542, -110.126267
    Site #10 - Well/Water? - 38.974020, -110.130524

    Site_9 (Small).JPG
    Site #9 - Housing/barracks - 38.970542, -110.126267

    Site_9 (2) (Small).JPG
    Site #9 - Housing/barracks - 38.970542, -110.126267

    Site_9 (5) (Small).JPG
    Site #9 - Housing/barracks - 38.970542, -110.126267

    Site_10 (Small).JPG
    Site #10 - Well/Water? - 38.974020, -110.130524

    Site_10 (1) (Small).JPG
    Site #10 - Well/Water? - 38.974020, -110.130524
     
  4. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator & Supporting Member Supporter Contributor Registered

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    Atlantic Research Corporation Assembly Area
    Site #19 - Machine/Weld Shop - 38.975788, -110.140956
    Site #20 - Athena Assembly Area - 38.979853, -110.140196
    Site #13 - Unknown - 38.975545, -110.138989
    Site #14 - Unknown - 38.976564, -110.136261
    Site #15 - Unknown - 38.978120, -110.135571
    Site #16 - Unknown - 38.978714, -110.134629
    Site #17 - Unknown - 38.979946, -110.133414
    Site #18 - Unknown - 38.980984, -110.128872

    Site_19 (Small).JPG
    Site #19 - Machine/Weld Shop - 38.975788, -110.140956

    Site_19 (1) (Small).JPG
    Site #19 - Machine/Weld Shop - 38.975788, -110.140956

    Site_20 (Small).JPG
    Site #20 - Athena Assembly Area - 38.979853, -110.140196

    Site_20 (1) (Small).JPG
    Site #20 - Athena Assembly Area - 38.979853, -110.140196

    Site_13 (Small).JPG
    Site #13 - Unknown - 38.975545, -110.138989

    Site_14 (Small).JPG
    Site #14 - Unknown - 38.976564, -110.136261

    Site_15 (Small).JPG
    Site #15 - Unknown - 38.978120, -110.135571

    Site_16 (Small).JPG
    Site #16 - Unknown - 38.978714, -110.134629

    Site_17 (Small).JPG
    Site #17 - Unknown - 38.979946, -110.133414

    Site_18 (Small).JPG
    Site #18 - Unknown - 38.980984, -110.128872
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017
  5. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator & Supporting Member Supporter Contributor Registered

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    Athena Launch Complex Area
    Site #1 - Launch Complex (Athena Missiles) - 38.943652, -110.076643
    Site #2 - Unknown - 38.945228, -110.078728
    Site #3 - Observaton Area - 38.955784, -110.079065
    Site #4 - Unknown - 38.944717, -110.084169

    Site_1 (Small).JPG
    Site #1 - Launch Complex (Athena Missiles) - 38.943652, -110.076643

    Site_1 (1) (Small).JPG
    Site #1 - Launch Complex (Athena Missiles) - 38.943652, -110.076643

    Site_1 (7) (Small).JPG
    Site #1 - Launch Complex (Athena Missiles) - 38.943652, -110.076643

    Site_1 (25) (Small).JPG
    Site #1 - Launch Complex (Athena Missiles) - 38.943652, -110.076643

    Site_1 (48) (Small).JPG
    Site #1 - Launch Complex (Athena Missiles) - 38.943652, -110.076643

    athena (Small).jpg
    Site #1 - Launch Complex (Athena Missiles) - 38.943652, -110.076643

    1016322_10151822019115940_1394365498_n.jpg
    Site #1 - Launch Complex (Athena Missiles) - 38.943652, -110.076643

    Site_2 (Small).JPG
    Site #2 - Unknown - 38.945228, -110.078728

    Site_3 (Small).JPG
    Site #3 - Observaton Area - 38.955784, -110.079065

    Site_4 (Small).JPG
    Site #4 - Unknown - 38.944717, -110.084169
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017
  6. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator & Supporting Member Supporter Contributor Registered

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    Pershing Launch Complex Area
    Site #11 - Geyser Launch Site (Pershing Missiles) - 38.941903, -110.118995

    Site_11 (Small).JPG
    Site #11 - Geyser Launch Site (Pershing Missiles) - 38.941903, -110.118995

    getimage-3 (Small).jpeg
    Site #11 - Geyser Launch Site (Pershing Missiles) - 38.941903, -110.118995
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017
  7. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator & Supporting Member Supporter Contributor Registered

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    Other Associated Buildings
    Site #5 - Meteorological Building - 38.954893, -110.091979
    Site #6 - Warehouse/Magazine - 38.971820, -110.111601
    Site #7 - Warehouse/Magazine - 38.972816, -110.113163
    Site #8 - Warehouse/Magazine - 38.973297, -110.115147
    Site #12 - Radio Tower? - 38.939265, -110.127147
    Site #23 - Green River Radar Complex - 38.979454, -110.112190

    Site_5 (Small).JPG
    Site #5 - Meteorological Building - 38.954893, -110.091979

    Site_5 (2) (Small).JPG
    Site #5 - Meteorological Building - 38.954893, -110.091979

    Site_6 (Small).JPG
    Site #6 - Warehouse/Magazine - 38.971820, -110.111601

    Site_7 (Small).JPG
    Site #7 - Warehouse/Magazine - 38.972816, -110.113163

    Site_7 (2) (Small).JPG
    Site #7 - Warehouse/Magazine - 38.972816, -110.113163

    Site_8 (Small).JPG
    Site #8 - Warehouse/Magazine - 38.973297, -110.115147

    Site_8 (1) (Small).JPG
    Site #8 - Warehouse/Magazine - 38.973297, -110.115147

    Site_12 (Small).JPG
    Site #12 - Radio Tower? - 38.939265, -110.127147

    Site_23 (Small).JPG
    Site #23 - Green River Radar Complex - 38.979454, -110.112190

    1545750_10151822019200940_1792489654_n (Small).jpg
    Site #23 - Green River Radar Complex - 38.979454, -110.112190
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017
  8. Udink

    Udink Member Registered

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    Mind if I add a few more photos?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  9. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator & Supporting Member Supporter Contributor Registered

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    Not at all, add any photos, links or site info you may have.
     
  10. ttora4runner

    ttora4runner EU Contributor Contributor Registered

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    Huh, cool.
     
  11. Udink

    Udink Member Registered

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    There was apparently a missile launch from near Gilson Butte in the San Rafael Desert (near Goblin Valley) in the mid 1960s. A large military tent camp was set up near there, and on a small sandstone butte between the larger northern and southern Gilson Buttes, there are some 1966 inscriptions made by the military men. These photos are currently on Panoramio from user dieter45:

    http://www.panoramio.com/photo/19696825
    19696825.jpg

    http://www.panoramio.com/photo/30872670
    30872670.jpg
     
  12. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator & Supporting Member Supporter Contributor Registered

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    Wow, very cool. I've never heard of that site. Have you visited it?
     
  13. Udink

    Udink Member Registered

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    A friend of mine has been to the inscriptions between the north and south Gilson Buttes, but there's no sign of the military camp that used to be there.
     
  14. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator & Supporting Member Supporter Contributor Registered

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  15. Stephen

    Stephen Moderator & Supporting Member Contributor Registered

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    Yeah, I think they did this a couple of times. It was to test the mobile Athena launchers.
     
  16. milo942

    milo942 New Member Registered

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    Awesome info!

    It's great to learn about all the history and stories that our deserts hold, I had no idea about ether of these sites in utah!
     
  17. ScoutnUSA

    ScoutnUSA Supporting Member Supporter Contributor Registered

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    Thanks for the write up!
    We tried to get in there from the I-70 entrance in 2005 but the gate was locked and "No Trespassing" signs were up.
    Has it since been opened to the public?

    Darrell
     
  18. moab_cj5

    moab_cj5 Moderator Staff Member Supporter Contributor Registered

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    Great info! I haven't been able to follow all of the links yet, but VERY cool!
     
  19. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator & Supporting Member Supporter Contributor Registered

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    It's wide open as of my last visit in May of this year, in fact fences have been removed in some areas.
     
  20. ScoutnUSA

    ScoutnUSA Supporting Member Supporter Contributor Registered

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    Going to have to put that back on the "need to visit" list.

    Darrell
     

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