About the 757th

Blaine Air Force Station, aka the 757th Radar Squadron, was a small US Air Force installation located about a mile from Birch Bay, Washington, just south of the Canadian Border at Blaine Washington. This was a cold-war era radar site, whose mission was to look for hostile air traffic coming at us from over the horizon. As part of the SAGE system, there were height and search radars there, as well as radio gear to communicate with military aircraft in the area. With the end of the cold war came the end of the site's mission, and it was decommissioned in 1979. The nearest Air Force Base was McChord, near Tacoma WA, about 150 miles to the south.

It was a plum of an assignment, located near 2 large cities, with many recreational amenities either onsite or nearby. Compared to the usual location of other radar sites, on mountain tops or 20 miles past the middle of nowhere, there weren't many other sites like it.

My Time At the 757th

I was stationed at the 757th between 1969 and 1970, when I got orders for Korea. I was there less than a year, and I suspect that Blaine AFS was a parking spot for me that was near McChord until USAF could find an overseas slot for me. I'd had three CONUS assignments and I'm sure that as far as HQ was concerned, it was my turn. 1969 was a long time ago, and a lot of what I remember of the site is quite hazy now. In particular, the assignments then of various buildings is quite fuzzy, and your help in identifying them is appreciated.

I was not particularly disposed to staying on base when I wasn't working, so I really didn't avail myself of many of the amenities there. The truth is that I was passing time until my DOS. I worked at the GATR (Ground Air Transmitter Receiver) site, which diminished my understanding of the rest of the site even more. Since my parents lived in Seattle, I drove home during my breaks. That close to home, the 757th was a great place to be.

After the 757th shut down in January 1979, the site was given to Whatcom County and the county leased a portion of the site to the Lion's Club, for a facility called Camp Horizon  which is devoted to kids with special needs.

On Saturday, May 16, 2009, I visited the old radar site. It was warm, but not particularly clear, which you can see in the pictures. Another grey day in the Pacific Northwest. There is demolition sometime in the old site's future, and I wanted to see it before this happened.

I visited the site previously in 2002, and recall that a few more buildings were present, especially down by the 24-tower. Those buildings were the steam plant (612) and the water treatment plant (626). They're gone now.

I located the images taken in 2002, but they didn't fill in any more details.

The Future

I did some further research and found a couple of articles in the Bellingham Herald that described Whatcom Couunty's current and future plans for the site. They want to develop it into a county park site, and in order to do this, need to demolish some of the existing buildings. It appears this is still in the planning stages and they do not yet have funding.
Bellingham Herald, March 22, 2009    Bellingham Herald, May 7, 2009 

There is also more to be found in the Whatcom County Park's openspace plan.  Search/look for Bay Horizon Park. Excerpts here:
Openspace Plan Excerpt #1 (1.9mb)    Openspace Plan Excerpt #2 (33kb) 

Visit: January 2010

On January 23, 2010, I visited the site again after hearing rumors of demolition. It was true. The following buildings are now gone:
  • OPS, building 658
  • Supply, building 740
  • unknown, building 750
  • 26-tower, building 550
  • Auto Hobby shop, 428

On another note, the property across Alderson Road from the entrance to the site has been sold. It looks like someone will be building homes on that land.

I took some time to drive towards Blaine along Birch Bay, to see what had changed. The answer is, a lot. There are many resorts now, upscale hotels, etc. the homespun look is gone. It's pretty commercial.

There are pictures from this trip in the pictures section of this page.

Software

Most of the time I use a free image editing tool called xnview. I find it works really well, has a good feature set, and you can actually get work done with it. Best of all, it is free. I have Photoshop for when the going gets tough, but I find xnview easier and faster to use.

http://www.xnview.com 

For panoramic photos, I use a program called Panavue Image Assembler. It stitches multiple photos together to make a single large composite frame. You can download a free demo version. I liked it enough to pay for it.

http://www.panavue.com 

Contact Me

If you have comments, corrections, etc... you can contact me via email:

I still live in the Seattle metro area.

Panoramic Photos

These images were taken by using my wide angle lens, taking successive shots while rotating the camera around the axis of my body. I used an image stitching program to assemble the pieces into much larger images.

These initial views are scaled and highly compressed so they fit your browser while still downloading quickly. Clicking on any of them brings up the full-sized image, which is huge (9-14mb). It was saved at highest resolution so you can go looking "inside" the image for closer details. If you have 2 screens, you can "stretch" the image across both of them.

If you hover your mouse pointer over the image, you'll see, either in the lower left status area or as a tooltip, the size of the full-sized image.

Don't click on these images unless you have a high-speed connection or a lot of spare time.

image linked to map_02.jpg

Squadron Map (note: North is DOWN)

Rec Hall building looking out towards Alderson Road.

Rec Hall building looking out towards Alderson Road.

View from the height tower to the rear of the Orderly Room, along Gemini Drive.

View from the height tower to the rear of the Orderly Room, along Gemini Drive.

View of the family housing area. There is a 2nd housing area to the west of the site, off Alderson Road

View of the family housing area. There is a 2nd housing area to the west of the site, off Alderson Road

Normal Sized Photos

Click on any image to enlarge it. The enlarged images are 1280 x 675. In the interest of saving space on my webserver, these have been reduced from those produced by my camera (Canon EOS-10D, 3072 x 2048 pixels). Some have been processed in Photoshop or its equivalent and some are raw. The full-sized images are around 3mb, if you're on a dialup, it may take a minute or two to download. The enlarged images should display pretty large, and if there's one that you'd like to see at camera resolution, please end me the filename in an email.

Numbers in parenthesis are building numbers referenced on the site map. Names used reflect those used during the site's lifetime, and have no necessary relationship to current usage.

View from height finder twoards motor pool

View from height finder twoards motor pool

View looking at gym (425), motor pool (542), and orderly room (532)

View looking at gym (425), motor pool (542), and orderly room (532)

Back of orderly room (532) and chow hall (blue, 534). Barracks right of chow hall were BOQ (630).

Back of orderly room (532) and chow hall (blue, 534). Barracks right of chow hall were BOQ (630).

Right of BOQ (rear, 630). The other building is the rear of ops/T2 (658).

Right of BOQ (rear, 630). The other building is the rear of ops/T2 (658).

Right of img 1177 (part of panorama shot)

Right of img 1177 (part of panorama shot)

FPS-26 height finder tower (550)

FPS-26 height finder tower (550)

Closeup of door

Closeup of door

Alternate shot of door

Alternate shot of door

Height tower entrance. Door says OFF LIMITS

Height tower entrance. Door says OFF LIMITS

Rear of height finder

Rear of height finder

Rear of ops building.

Rear of ops building.

Another look at rear of motor pool and orderly room

Another look at rear of motor pool and orderly room

Sign and readerboard at the corner of the Orderly Room. This would be right at the street corner by the Orderly Room.

Sign and readerboard at the corner of the Orderly Room. This would be right at the street corner by the Orderly Room.

Gym (425)

Gym (425)

View thru window into gym

View thru window into gym

Inside of gym, thru side door

Inside of gym, thru side door

Street signs

Street signs

Rec Hall (416), closest to entrance

Rec Hall (416), closest to entrance

A more distant view of Rec Hall.

A more distant view of Rec Hall.

Closer view of Rec Hall.

Closer view of Rec Hall.

Auto Hobby Shop building (428), across street from motor pool

Auto Hobby Shop building (428), across street from motor pool

Bldg 510 BAQ

Bldg 510 BAQ

Bldg 514 BAQ

Bldg 514 BAQ

View towards main gate/Alderson Road

View towards main gate/Alderson Road

View from Orderly Room, towards FPS-24 tower

View from Orderly Room, towards FPS-24 tower

Front door of Orderly Room.

Front door of Orderly Room.

View thru Orderly Room front door.

View thru Orderly Room front door.

View showing both entrances to Orderly room and garden/flagpole

View showing both entrances to Orderly room and garden/flagpole

Sign reads: Cliff Glass Memorial Garden. A Friend of Camp Horizon - 1921-1985

Sign reads: Cliff Glass Memorial Garden. A Friend of Camp Horizon - 1921-1985

Bldg 516 BAQ

Bldg 516 BAQ

Bldg 518 BAQ

Bldg 518 BAQ

View thru front door down barracks hallway

View thru front door down barracks hallway

View thru end of chow hall (534)

View thru end of chow hall (534)

View thru entry door of chow hall

View thru entry door of chow hall

Near BX (634) looking across street. Building is Hobby Shop (616)

Near BX (634) looking across street. Building is Hobby Shop (616)

Entry of BOQ (630) next to chow hall.

Entry of BOQ (630) next to chow hall.

According to the map, this is the BX (634). I think this was also used as the dispensary. I left two wisdom teeth here.

According to the map, this is the BX (634). I think this was also used as the dispensary. I left two wisdom teeth here.

Looking down side of the BX towards ops/t2.

Looking down side of the BX towards ops/t2.

Another door into BX building

Another door into BX building

Commisary. (636)

Commisary. (636)

Interior of commisary.

Interior of commisary.

FPS-24 tower (700)

FPS-24 tower (700)

rear of 24-tower

rear of 24-tower

FPS-24 tower

FPS-24 tower

This building is recent. I think it is a Verizon Central Office. It appears to have replaced building 635.

This building is recent. I think it is a Verizon Central Office. It appears to have replaced building 635.

One of two similar buildings that are adjacent to each other (740, 750). This was supply.

One of two similar buildings that are adjacent to each other (740, 750). This was supply.

Interior of building 740

Interior of building 740

Building 750.

Building 750.

OPS / T2 (658)

OPS / T2 (658)

View down Gemini, towards main gate

View down Gemini, towards main gate

Same vantage point as img 1231, but I turned 90-degrees left, looking down Saturn Street.

Same vantage point as img 1231, but I turned 90-degrees left, looking down Saturn Street.

Middle of Gemini, about BAQ 516, looking towards Alderson

Middle of Gemini, about BAQ 516, looking towards Alderson

View down Gemini. The green building that says Hostel, was  the BOQ.

View down Gemini. The green building that says Hostel, was the BOQ.

Looking towards the FPS-24 tower down Gemini.

Looking towards the FPS-24 tower down Gemini.

Side of barracks

Side of barracks

Door to Barracks 510

Door to Barracks 510

Sign at entrance from Alderson Road.

Sign at entrance from Alderson Road.

View looking into the site from Alderson

View looking into the site from Alderson

Looking down alderson towards Birch Bay

Looking down alderson towards Birch Bay

Looking straight down Alderson towards Birch Bay

Looking straight down Alderson towards Birch Bay

Looking the other direction on Alderson

Looking the other direction on Alderson

Looking down main street in Birch Bay, where Alderson turns.

Looking down main street in Birch Bay, where Alderson turns.

The other direction where Alderson meets Birch Bay

The other direction where Alderson meets Birch Bay

GATR Site

GATR Site

Gatr Site

Gatr Site


January 2010 Visit

View from motor pool across the field towards the OPS building (now gone)

View from motor pool across the field towards the OPS building (now gone)

The 26-tower was here.

The 26-tower was here.

Looking towards the 24-tower. The OPS building used to be in the way.

Looking towards the 24-tower. The OPS building used to be in the way.

Looking from where the Supply building used to be, across to where OPS used to be

Looking from where the Supply building used to be, across to where OPS used to be

Birch Bay, intersection of Birch Bay Drive and Harview Road

Birch Bay, intersection of Birch Bay Drive and Harview Road

Birch Bay, looking north towards Blaine

Birch Bay, looking north towards Blaine

Birch Bay, looking south along Birch Bay Drive

Birch Bay, looking south along Birch Bay Drive

looking north

looking north

looking south

looking south

sign across from main entrance to site, across Alderson road.

sign across from main entrance to site, across Alderson road.

corner store at intersection of Birch Bay-Lynden Road and Blaine Road. We used to buy donuts here.

corner store at intersection of Birch Bay-Lynden Road and Blaine Road. We used to buy donuts here.


GPS Coordinates

Google Earth KMZ file  for Blaine AFS. After launching Google Earth, load the kmz file. It will lead you to the site coordinates.

Blaine AFS 48° 54' 50.09"N 122° 44' 2.80"W
GATR 48° 54' 5.89"N 122° 41' 30.29"W

Main Site - Google Maps

Getting there:
Take I5 north to Exit 270, the 2nd Birch Bay exit.
Turn left at the top of the ramp. This is Birch Bay - Lynden Road
At Blaine Road, turn left.
Follow Blaine Road until it intersects Alderson Road.
Turn right on Alderson. The site is about 1/2 mile towards Birch Bay on your left.

Zoom in to see the site, located at the "A" marker.


View Larger Map

GATR Site - Google Maps

Getting there:
From the site, go right on Alderson road, then right on Blaine Road.
Turn left on Blaine-Ferndale Road.
After you cross Kickerville Road, look on your right for Telstar Road. It should be the 2nd right after Kickerville.
Turn right on Telstar, and follow the road to the end. It appears that the GATR site land is now private property.

Increase the magnification, then follow the road to its end. The gate is located where the road turns east.


View Larger Map

Links

Home    |   Blaine AFS 757th Radar Squadron Historical Website    |   Point Arena AFS 
Online Air Defense Museum    |   Radomes.org    |   Sage System (Wikipedia) 

Pictures and text copyright © 2009 by Rick Chinn. All rights reserved. Permission granted for private non-commercial use.

Last modified 12/23/2013 13:18:59.

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