The Farm That Wasn't


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The Klamath River Radar Station was in its heyday in 1943 and 1944

Below the road are weather-beaten farm buildings, perched in an overgrown pasture overlooking the sea. You don't notice them, except for the exhibit-sign pointing the way. The "farm" was designed to avoid notice. It's an artfully camouflaged early warning radar station. A rare survivor of a pioneer World War II network guarding the Pacific coast from Japanese invasion. Two windowless dormers, and wood - shingle finished to look like a working farm when viewed from the road, sea, and sky. The Farm House held the diesel generator and the larger barn housed the staff and electronic equipment. A "tower", formerly located west of the barn was a mobile radar antenna. Primitive radar technology called for a large structure that was difficult to conceal, despite daubs of camouflage paint.

Everyday, on shifts around the clock, rotating 40 or so Army Air Corps men watched for planes, ships, blimps, and other objects. All craft were reported to the communications center in San Francisco. If they were identified as hostile fighter-planes would be immediately dispatched. The station was guarded by two 50 - caliber machine guns on anti-aircraft mounts, and everyone carried a rifle. Military police with dogs conrolled access to the area.

Following World War I, the development of sophisticated jet bombers and unmanned ballistic missiles with inter continental ranges rendered this type of coastal early warning radar station obsolete. Because the Klamath River Radar Station was the last relatively intact World War II station of its kind, and its camouflage features were so unusual historians were able to rescue it from neglect and obscurity in the 1970's by placing it on the National Register of Historic Places.