Monday, October 12, 2020 About Us Terms of Service © Timera Media 2017–2020
 

Baker Island: Deserted atoll with an airfield & relics from WW2

Petar Djajkovski
Left: Landing craft wreckage on Baker Island coast. Right: Day Beacon, Baker Island. Photos: Joann94024, CC BY-SA 3.0

Pretty much in the middle of the Pacific Ocean lies a very small atoll. Just 3 miles (4.8 km) of shoreline. It’s highest “peak” is 26 feet(8 m) above sea level.  A sandy place where four different types of grass grow.

There are no trees, fresh water or people. It is a home however to some seabirds, shorebirds and marine life, some of them are on the list of endangered species.

Orthographic projection over Baker Island(the dot in the middle). Photo Credit: Geo Swan, CC BY-SA 2.5

Orthographic projection over Baker Island(the dot in the middle). Photo Credit: Geo Swan, CC BY-SA 2.5

Brown noddies with radio masts in the background. Photo Credit:  Joann94024, CC BY-SA 3.0

Brown noddies with radio masts in the background. Photo Credit:  Joann94024, CC BY-SA 3.0

Discovery: The era of Sea Captains

The island was discovered in 1818 when Captain Elisha Folger was hunting whales in the Pacific Ocean. Two whaling ship captains landed there before it was named by the third who visited it – Captain Michael Baker made two or three visits, some ship logs say 1832, 1834 and 1839. He claimed the island much later in 1855 and although the island is small it was rich with guano deposits, which at the time was a very valuable fertilizer. So the USA claimed the island and the American Guano Co. mined out it’s guano deposits from 1859 until 1878.

Day Beacon, Baker Island, Pacific Ocean. Photo Credit: Joann94024, CC BY-SA 3.0

Day Beacon, Baker Island, Pacific Ocean. Photo Credit: Joann94024, CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Hermit crabs taking shade in day beacon. Photo Credit: Joann94024, CC BY-SA 3.0

Hermit crabs taking shade in day beacon. Photo Credit: Joann94024, CC BY-SA 3.0

Colonization: The era of Conquest

There was an attempt to colonize Baker Island by the USA on 3rd of April 1935. The settlement was named Meyerton, after a captain of the US Army, who helped establish the base in 1935. They build a lighthouse and some nice houses. The real challenge was to grow trees and crops to help provide food. Only two palm trees out of many planted survived and they were jokingly called “King-Doyle Park” by two Hawaiians who once visited the island.  In 1942 the Japanese air force attacked the island so to did the Japanese navy – the USA evacuated all four islanders and their pets!

Fish and Wildlife sign. Photo Credit: Joann94024, CC BY-SA 3.0

Fish and Wildlife sign. Photo Credit: Joann94024, CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Baker Island coastline with red-footed booby. Photo Credit: Joann94024, CC BY-SA 3.0

Baker Island coastline with red-footed booby. Photo Credit: Joann94024, CC BY-SA 3.0

Junkyard: The modern era

Debris and artifacts of past human occupation are scattered around and on the island. Most of the junk left behind on this abandoned atoll belongs to the US Army from when it occupied it during the Second World War. The biggest and most noticeable mark is the 5.400 foot(1656m) long airstrip.

Settlement remains, radio mast in the background. Photo Credit: Joann94024, CC BY-SA 3.0

Settlement remains, radio mast in the background. Photo Credit: Joann94024, CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Landing craft wreckage on Baker Island coast. Photo Credit: Joann94024, CC BY-SA 3.0

Landing craft wreckage on Baker Island coast. Photo Credit: Joann94024, CC BY-SA 3.0

Now completely overgrown by low vegetation and probably useless, even though there have been cases before when old airstrips on islands in the Pacific served as an emergency landing of commercial planes, saving many lives. There are also remains of several buildings and five wooden antenna poles, many metal parts of crashed airplanes and rusty equipment from old bulldozers.