Midwest Dirt

Copyright 2007-2010, Scott D. Murdock
19 Sep 2010 - Added additional photos.


Carl Edwards says "I'm always at home on Midwest dirt" in a television commercial.  Me too, but instead of racing on short tracks like Carl does, I bounce along section roads looking for military history.  My move from Texas to Colorado gave me the opportunity to spend a few days in Kansas enjoying those red dirt section roads. 

Saturday, 25 Aug 2007

Waving goodbye to the DFW Metroplex at about 0815, I took I-35 out of Texas, across Oklahoma, and into Kansas. 

McConnell AF Missile Site #12 (532-3)
(Parking area and general view of site)
(Obsolete USAF sign

(General view of site)

McConnell AF Missile Site #13 (532-4)
(Parking area and general view of site)
(Concrete pad
)
(General view of site)

McConnell AF Missile Site #15 (532-6)
(Parking area and general view of site)
(Concrete pad
)
(General view of site)

McConnell AF Missile Site #15 Water Annex
(General view of well enclosure)
(Close up view of well enclosure
)
(General view of well)

McConnell AF Missile Site #14 (532-5)
(Access road)

McConnell AF Missile Site #14 Water Annex
(General view of compound)
(General view of compound
)

McConnell AF Missile Site #16 (532-7)
(Parking area and general view of site)
(General view of site showing monitoring wells
)
(General view of site)

McConnell AF Missile Site #18 Water Annex
(General view of compound)
(Water system building
)
(Water system building
)

McConnell AF Missile Site #18 (532-9)
(Parking area and general view of site)
(Obsolete USAF sign
)
(Obsolete USAF sign close up
)

McConnell AF Missile Site #17 (532-8)
(Parking area and general view of site)
(Concrete pad
)
(General view of site)

McConnell AF Missile Site #17 Water Annex
(General view of compound)
(General view of compound
)
(Building
)

After all these Titan II installations I needed a change of pace, so I found one W.W.II airfield to finish up the day.  Pratt AAFld is now Pratt Industrial Airport (PTT).  I observed a couple of hangars on the flight line, along with a parachute drying building. Also extant is the vault structure (5 doors) of a Norden bombsight maintenance building and a Norden bombsight storage vault (2 doors).

I stopped for the night in Pratt, Kansas, at 1830.  10.25 hours on the road, covering 529 miles.

Sunday, 26 Aug 2007

Getting an early start from Pratt, my first order of business was to make a wide sweep to the west and back east, collecting some far-flung W.W.II airfields.

Early in my morning's drive, I passed through the town of Greensburg.  You may recall that in May 2007, just over three months before my visit, Greensburg was hit and mostly destroyed by a F5 tornado, and several people lost their lives.  This news had slipped my mind and the town just happened to be along my path, so I was unprepared for what I saw.  The central part of the town looked like it had been bombed in a war.  Seriously.  Partially standing buildings, piles of rubble, and twisted sheet metal were everywhere.  Please send a prayer or some positive energy to the people of Greensburg as they rebuild their town and their way of life.

Liberal AAFld is now Liberal Municipal Airport (LBL).  Some buildings from W.W.II remain, including hangars, a group of warehouses, and others.

Garden City AAFld is now Garden City Municipal Airport (GCK).  I saw only one building that seemed to be W.W.II vintage.

Dodge City AAFld is now partly empty land, dotted with W.W.II vintage chimneys, and partly occupied by the Stanley Feed Yard.  One hangar is barely visible, as is a small section of airfield apron.

Great Bend AAFld is now Great Bend Municipal Airport (GBD).  A few W.W.II hangars still stand on the flight line, and a concrete elevated water storage tank remains. The remains of a 5-door Norden bombsight maintenance building stand next to a 2-door Norden bombsight storage vault.

From Great Bend I continued east toward Salina, picking off a couple Schilling AFB Atlas F missile sites.

Schilling AF Missile Site #6 (550-6)
(Gate)
(General view of site)
(Azimuth marker
)

Schilling AF Missile Site #4 (550-4)
(Access road)
(Azimuth marker)
(Azimuth marker and gate

Next I sought out Schilling Communications Annex (Receiver), located just a couple miles west of the former base.  Remember the introductory comments I made about dirt and racing?  I was all smiles when I noticed this property was now home to Salina Speedway, with the Air Force communications building still standing prominently at the facility.  If I had been a day earlier the gates would have been open for Saturday night's racing events -- unfortunately the place was locked up when I made my visit.  Midwest dirt!

I had visited Schilling AFB, now Salina Municipal Airport (SLN), and found Schilling ILS MM Annex several years ago.  With limited daylight to work with, I took a quick look at the middle marker annex before visiting the buildings and rows of munitions storage igloos lined up in the weapon storage area. On the airfield, the large double cantilever hangar still looked impressive. The SAC 70-man molehole alert facility still seemed to be in good condition.  Other areas of the base looked much as they had in 2001.

Tonight's hotel was in Salina, Kansas.  This day's drive covered 542 miles in 11.5 hours. 

Monday, 27 Aug 2007

I ate breakfast at the hotel and hit the road about 0715.  Braving rush-hour traffic in Salina (ha ha!), I headed for a series of Atlas site visits in the surrounding area.

Schilling AF Missile Site 3 (550-3)
(
Gate)
(General view of site)

(Azimuth marker
)
(Azimuth marker
)

Schilling AF Missile Site 2 (550-2)
(
Access road)
(Quonset hut
)

Schilling AF Missile Site 1 (550-1)
(
Gate)
(
General view of site)
(Water system building)
(Azimuth marker
)

Schilling AF Missile Site 10 (550-10)
(
Gate)
(
General view of site)
(Azimuth marker)

Schilling AF Missile Site 9 (550-9)
(
Gate)
(
General view of site)
(Water system building and larger unknown building
)

Schilling AF Missile Site 7 (550-7)
(
Access road)

Schilling AF Missile Site 8 (550-8)
(
Access road)
(
General view of site)
(Azimuth marker
)

A change of pace seemed appropriate, so I cruised west on I-70 to Walker, and made my way north to the former Walker AAFld.  It's not easy to get to, and it's heavily secured with signs warning against trespassing.  From the distance I could see one standing hangar, the concrete tower for a water storage tank, a few lonely chimneys, the concrete buttresses from another hangar, and another building.

West again, then north, found me at the site of the former Oberlin Communications Site GWEN 843.  Having the typical 299' tower and dual equipment shelters, It appears unchanged since its Air Force use ended several years ago.

I stopped for the night in Goodland, Kansas.  This was an 11.25-hour driving day, covering 558 miles.

Tuesday, 28 Aug 2007

This was an easy day.  Sleep in, visit one airport, and drive west for a few hours.

Goodland Municipal Airport is now Renner Field/Goodland Municipal Airport (GLD).  I noted two hangars on the flight line that appeared to be W.W.II or earlier construction.  A vintage aerial recognition sign is still in good condition.

I made it to my new digs in Denver by noon, covering 207 miles in 4 hours today.  This four-day trip covered 1,836 total miles.


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