Canadian Forces Station Beaverbank; Beaverbank, Nova Scotia, Canada.
These I took around the winter of 2007 as a project for my Documentary Photography class at university. The site once belonged to both the US and Canadian military, who used it jointly as a radar base during the Cold War. It was part of the Pine Tree Line, a string of radar installations used to detect Soviet missiles on their approach over the North. The missiles were already outdated by the time the site was up and operational, and couldn't have detected much over land given its location. It was shut down in the mid sixties, I believe, but still occupied by military forces from both sides of the border for another decade or so.
Today the base is used mostly as a party spot by kids from Beaverbank and Sackville. A lot of drinking, bonfires, graffiti. A former photo buddy of mine and I used it once to test ballistics to a pulp fiction novel. There's an unspoken rule going (or at least there was when I went there) that no one is allowed to tell you where the site is. You have to be taken there and learn it by sight. The base itself is now private property. It's bordered by a retirement home and the surrounding land is slated for a subdivision development. I went only in the winter but in the summer following, apparently the entrances were all cemented in.
Have a look at a few images:
The walk up there is hell in the winter. The first time I went, there was at least a foot of snow on the ground, and we were in the middle of an ice storm. To actually get in, you have to park your car down the hill, as the road is not accessible if you're not walking or driving an ATV, walk 15 minutes uphill, past the rubble of other buildings that didn't survive the decades, and then, when you reach the building, hoist yourself 5+ feet up to a platform with a small window at the base, which is the only entrance left.
View of the first and second floors from the mezzanine. Those two doors on the main floor lead to bathrooms.
I never did get access to the basement. It was flooded and, given the season, frozen over. Very creepy, though.
There's an awesome juxtaposition between the base's former use and its current one. Part of me took on this project to preserve the history of the place, and the other part just liked the art on the walls.
One of only about 4 windows or doors in the entire place. These are the only spots where you will get light through. I started shooting whenever I could get there, which was mostly in the evening, after the sun had set. Eventually I had to plan my days out just to get there in time for sunrise so I could have light to shoot by. Flash is nobody's friend in these places. Did I mention these exposures were on film and some upwards of 20 seconds apiece?
The top floor, which is a maze of metal beams that were once walls. This area, though, used to overlook the mezzanine. The floor is in very poor condition. Anyone who's been there can tell you that it's rotting away and there are holes everywhere. It's basically just rotting metal with a dirt overlay. If you find a way in, be very careful where you step and take a powerful flashlight. And a friend.
This floor was my favourite. It had some of the most interesting graffiti and textures I have ever seen or photographed. Plus, thanks to having one of those rare windows nearby facing due east, it was pretty easy to shoot.
So there you have it. Questions? Comments?
The rest of the images that I have scanned are on my Flickr account.