The Abandoned North Truro US Air Force Station

Viktoriia Makeenko
Photo Credits: Gin Minsky
Photo Credits: Gin Minsky

The North Truro US Air Force Station was a radar station that was among the first 24 stations built around the United States. The U.S. Air Force ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to build these 24 facilities after the USSR made its first atomic bomb test on August 29, 1949. After years of service, it has long sat abandoned.

The North Truro Air Force Station

The North Truro Air Force Station is located in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It was completed in 1951 and was one of the first stations to monitor Soviet bombers traversing the Arctic Circle. The station also incorporated barracks, a library, a bar, a bowling alley, and a family residential area.

A military tower with dome in a field.
The radar station. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)
An abandoned building in a field.
An abandoned building on the property. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)
A tall brick chimney beside a building.
A chimney tower beside an abandoned building. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)

Four towers were built in the waters off the Atlantic coast and equipped with long-range search radars. One of these towers was located at North Truro. The towers were named “Texas Towers” because of their resemblance to oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Steel frame of a building.
Little remains of this former building. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)
A building beside the steel frame of another building.
The buildings on the property are at various stages of abandonment. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)
Damaged brick and a steel sign.
There can be damages spotted on nearly every building. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)

Effective, but dangerous

The Texas Tower could observe aircraft flying over the sea from 300 to 500 miles away. This fact provided the base with approximately 30 critical minutes from the moment of detection of an enemy bomber to prepare for an attack. It was an impressive distance and amount of time.

A dark hallway with debris.
Debris litters the halls of the former North Truro Air Force Station. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)
Dark artwork of tools.
Eerie remnants have been left behind. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)
Painted instructions on a dirty wall.
Some elements of the former military base still remain. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)

However, despite their usefulness, the towers could be quite dangerous for those who worked there. Records show that over the years that these towers were operational, there were 32 fatalities. Texas Tower #4 at North Truro was known as “Old Shaky” because it swayed quite easily in the wind.

Damaged and abandoned open cabinets and a sink.
The interiors of the building seem just as disheveled as the exteriors. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)
Eye wash station.
An eyewash station looks like it was just installed yesterday. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)
Blank stop sign on the side of a building.
Many elements show what life would have been like on the base. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)

Struggling through storms

In 1960, the tower suffered severe damage due to Hurricane Donna. However, the military did not want to abandon Old Shaky for fear that the Russians might seize it. Instead, they sent a crew of 28 people to dismantle it.

Inside an abandoned room.
Inside the officer’s quarters. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)
Inside an abandoned room.
The walls have become severely damaged. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)
The outside of a sealed door.
This door has bee sealed off. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)

The work was still ongoing in the winter of 1961 when another severe storm struck. The crew was told not to evacuate but to keep working, and ultimately this decision saw all of them losing their lives when the Tower sank. It was a devastating disaster that ultimately could have been avoided.

The exterior of two abandoned buildings.
The North Truro Air Force Base remains a dark reminder of the Cold War. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)
A dark staircase.
Many of the buildings are riddled with asbestos. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)
A hallway with debris.
The interiors of buildings have become heavily damaged. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)

The North Truro Air Force Station transformed

The Cold War hit its highest tensions in the early 1960s, but over time, the need for North Truro Air Force Station decreased. In 1985, the station was officially decommissioned, and most of the land was sold to the National Parks Service. However, part of the land was transferred to the Federal Aviation Administration, an organization that uses coastal-mounted radar to track international flights into both Logan Airport in Boston and Kennedy Airport in New York.

Abandoned buildings on a road.
There is an abandoned neighborhood nearby as well. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)
The roof of an abandoned house among trees.
It is all rather creepy. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)
An abandoned house.
Those who worked at the base may have lived in this nearby neighborhood. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)

Those sections of the former station that were given to the National Parks Service operate as a park that is open to the public and guided tours are offered by the Cape Cod National Seashore, the organization which operates the site. While the radar dishes are no longer there, the concrete pads on which they stood are still in evidence.

An abandoned house.
Many of the buildings here have been long forgotten. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)
An earthquake recording system outside.
A hidden earthquake recording system found on the property. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)
Abandoned cabinets.
The insides of buildings look just as bad as the outsides. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)

In order to turn this place into a public park, several buildings had to be modernized and renovated, such as the library and a classroom. However, on the site you can still find residential buildings, technical buildings, and offices, all close to collapse and boarded up. Otherwise, several buildings were demolished. The buildings still standing contain asbestos and mold, which are expensive to remove and make demolition unwise. The Seashore has tried to raise funds to get rid of them but has so far been unsuccessful.

Destroyed ceiling in an abandoned room.
It is a shock that some of these buildings are still standing. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)
An abandoned bathroom.
The bathrooms have not faired well either. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)
A rusty fire hydrant.
A fire hydrant on the property that reads “Out of Service”. (Photo Credit: Gin Minsky)

Most of the site is owned by the Seashore and they have redeveloped some of the land (such as the library and classroom mentioned above) into the Highland Center, a performing arts center that offers art shows and educational events.

More from us: Abandoned Boron Air Force Station & Prison

All photos included in this article were taken by Gin Minsky – a tap dancer, burlesque performer, and photographer from Brooklyn, NY. Her website is a blog with interesting stories and wonderful photos. Check her page here!

A big thank you to Gin Minsky for allowing us to share her photos with our readers.