The abandoned North Concord Air Force Station on East Mountain in East Haven, Vermont dates back to the mid-1950s. During this time, geopolitical tensions were extremely high worldwide due to the Cold War which had been going on since 1947/48. The major conflict was between the United States and The Soviet Union. Both superpowers were fighting for global influence and took many steps to achieve it. Indirect tactics used for achieving dominance included psychological warfare, propaganda operations, espionage, extensive embargoes, rivalry at sporting events, and scientific challenges like the Space Race. Direct tactics included conventional military deployment and the development of a nuclear arsenal. The threat of nuclear warfare was something that the world had not faced previously and it was putting essentially everyone on edge. Fallout shelters were being made everywhere and “duck and cover” drills were practiced in schools. It was during this time that the the North Concord Air Force Station in Vermont was built.
The United States government chose to have an air force station built in Vermont’s remote Northeast Kingdom in order to detect any threat from overseas to the United States. The government chose to have the radar base built on the summit of the 3,440-foot East Mountain in East Haven due to its prime vantage point with miles of views. Construction on the base began in 1954 and it was no easy task due to the little infrastructure on the mountain. In 1956, the radar base and solider housing sections were finished along with the several miles of roads leading up to it. The cost of development was $21 million dollars.
The radar base at the summit of East Mountain consisted of several radar ears which resided in steel and tin towers. 5 of these towers still stand today although they are in rough condition. The radars were on and manned 24/7 in order to detect any possible Soviet attackers. Additionally, at the summit, there was a factory building, several garages, barracks, and offices.
A village was constructed down the mountain from the base in order to house the 174 men who lived and worked at the base. The mid-mountain village was primarily made up of Quonset Huts which housed the beds needed. Other buildings in the village were constructed to house a store, bowling alley, theater, barber shop, and dinning hall. Additionally, there was a nightly bus service that would drive men to and from nearby Saint Johnsbury which would allow them to go out to dinner, take in a movie, or hit the bars. Living in the middle of nowhere Vermont was no easy and these additional amenities went a long way in helping keep the men happy and healthy. Winter was definitely the toughest season to be stationed at the base. Often times, the Radar Road would become impassable due to the snowfall. Men would regularly have to spend extra hours at the radar base before they could get back to the mid-mountain village.
The name of the base changed in 1962 to the Lyndonville Air Force Base. A year later, in 1963, the government deemed the radar base no longer needed. The costs of running the base were high and new technology was making the old radars obsolete. Ultimately, in 1963, the radar base closed down and it has remained abandoned ever since.
In 1965, the government sold the base and surrounding land to a private landowner named Ed Sawyer for about $41,000. Sawyer lived at the base since it was still in good condition and he built out one structure to be his own woodworking workshop. He also began selling off some of the equipment and scrap metal on the base. In the winter of 1969, the owner was upset with unwelcome visitors and decided to create a chain gate. Unluckily, one evening, some individuals drove snowmobiles through the property without authorization and failed to see the chain hanging across the road. Sadly, one of the competitors had his head severed. Vandals and other unwelcome visitors began visiting the property frequently and they took or destroyed much of the interior of buildings. The owner tried to stop them with gates, but eventually gave up since the gates were quickly destroyed.
Matthew Rubin purchased the property from Sawyer. Rubin believed that the area would be perfect for a wind farm. The only problem was that Rubin lacked the capital to build the farm and no banks gave him loans. Ultimately, this plan fell apart. Around 1990 someone was killed after falling off one of the radar towers. On December 19, 1990, the Army Corp of Engineers and Johnson Company designated the Lyndonville Air Force Station lot as a hazardous site. This designation was given due to the pollution caused by the oil and motor fluids that have been sitting on the site for decades.
The North Concord Air Force Station, later known as the Lyndonville Air Force Station, currently sits abandoned above the tree line on the top of East Mountain in East Haven, Vermont. The road up to the base is not easy to navigate and 4-wheel drive is a must. It also is private property and a hazardous site, so do with that what you will. This abandoned Vermont radar station is wild!
- Year Established: 1955
- Year Abandoned: 1963
- Original Function: The station was built to provide the government with surveillance of the St. Lawrence River Valley during the Cold War. The main focus of the radar station was to search for any Soviet bombers that were attempting to enter US territory.
- Address: Radar Road
- Town: East Haven
- State: Vermont
- GPS: Lat 44.6652814 Lng -71.7773877
- Parking notes: Parking is available right at the base. You will definitely want to have a capable four wheel drive vehicle to get up Radar Road. You also should be aware this is private property and a certified hazardous site.
- Parking directions: HERE
- Location directions: HERE