LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK
THE TRIPLE THREAT OF MONTAUK
THE MONTAUK TRIBE
compiled by Dee Finney
|I woke at 4 a.m. with this dream:
6-8-03 - DREAM I was in a vehicle on a busy road on Long Island, New York. There was a large airfield to my right.
The sky was dark clouds.
Ahead of us I saw a long red firetruck coming towards us. It was so close to us on our left, I felt like it was brushing up against my fingers of my left hand which was hanging out the window (I must have been driving)
At that moment, I realized I was also in a firetruck and I couldn't pull off the road to the right because there was an airfield there.
The sky was ominous and I heard a radio broadcast announcing a tornado sighting and the name Pitts, and East Bay, New York
Just then the tornado came roaring down out of the sky and a huge Boeing 727 or 747 went spinning out on the runway of the airfield to my right and split open. I could see the inside of the plane and saw the seats and people flying out and then the plane exploded in a fiery ball of flames.
End of dream.
|I awoke from another dream at 8:40 a.m.
6-8-03 - DREAM - I was in a house somewhere. I looked out the window and saw my Father wrestling with a cow right up against the house. (I would call this animal a steer)
I got scared and ran to the opposite side of the room to call my sons so they could help my Father. I saw my sons out the window on the lawn and saw them struggling to subdue a two pronged red deer with a jacket over its horns and eyes.
That really scared me, so I ran outside and saw some people opening up an old house across the street that had been boarded up for many years. They looked like a friendly family, but they had a big red dog with them and they lost control of it and it started running towards me. I was already backing up around the corner of the house and ran inside and shut the door.
Inside the kitchen, I discovered, I had cooked way too much meat for dinner. I had a huge roasted turkey in one oven, a roasted chicken and a roasted duck in another oven. We didn't need all that food for one meal no matter how good it was. But because of all the excitement, I wasn't ready for dinner and saw there were dishes all over the kitchen that had to be washed first before we could sit down to eat.
As I woke up, but still in the dream, a low-pitched male voice said, "Don't worry! The triple-threat of Montauk is 55 miles away from Long Island," and I had a vision of Montauk along the coast of the land across the gap of water between it and Long Island.
End of dream
NOTE: Two coincidences then happened.
Joe was sitting at his computer working and I started telling him my dream, and he said, 'What a coincidence!" He had been cutting and pasting a section of a page about the coming concordance of stars in November, and the chart was set on Long Island. The importance of this is that the alignment of all the stars are at 13. The page I did about November is about the astronauts and the danger to them. The scheduled liftoff is on the 13th. NOVEMBER SPACE EVENTS
The concordance is on the night of November 8/9, 2003 when a total lunar eclipse occurs.
At the same moment, a commercial came on the TV which showed a fearful man and it showed him running down a big hallways, running away from the ghosts of the past.
I had already done a page about November - and events coming because of a dream I had on 12/31/02 - the last day of the year.
This is really a BIG deal.
|THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH SEVERAL AGENCIES
IS PROMOTING HAZARDOUS WEATHER SAFETY FOR ALL PEOPLE.
THIS STATEMENT COVERS TORNADOES IN THE TRI STATE AREA.
A TORNADO IS A RAPIDLY ROTATING COLUMN OF AIR...EXTENDING DOWN FROM A CLOUD WITH A CIRCULATION THAT REACHES THE GROUND.
TORNADOES DEVELOP FROM SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS. CLIMATOLOGICALLY...THEY OCCUR MOST FREQUENTLY DURING THE AFTERNOON AND EVENING FROM JUNE THROUGH AUGUST. THEY DEVELOP AND DISSIPATE RAPIDLY. THEIR INTENSITIES ARE USUALLY WEAK...F0 AND F1 ON THE FUJITA SCALE... REPRESENTING WINDS LESS THAN 113 MPH. THEIR PATH LENGTH AND WIDTH ARE USUALLY SMALL. MOST WEAK TORNADOES OCCUR WITHIN AREAS OF RAIN... MAKING THEM DIFFICULT TO SPOT.
THE NUMBER OF TORNADOES CONFIRMED BY THE NWS SINCE 1960...
FOR SOUTHEAST NEW YORK...
17 IN SUFFOLK COUNTY
FOR NORTHEAST NEW JERSEY...
11 IN UNION COUNTY
FOR SOUTHERN CONNECTICUT...
10 IN NEW HAVEN COUNTY
EAST BAY, LONG ISLAND AREA
LA GUARDIA AIRPORT
MONTAUK, LONG ISLAND
JFK AIRPORT JFK AIRFIELD JFK Airlines and Terminals Kennedy Airport Terminals JFK Airport Information
The JFK airport is a maze of four runways and innumerable taxi tracks. Reaching the parking stand is a deliberate exercise and is done with the help of airport taxi chart kept in front. Experienced pilots are said to have gotten lost in broad day light, on the JFK airport after having navigated for thousands of miles over the oceans wilderness.
Islip Long Island airfield Montauk Long Island airfield Newark Liberty Airport Teterboro Airport Downtown Manhattan Heliport
New York Weather Updates Includes Traffic Cams New York Crossroads
Montauk, Long Island Lighthouse
Some of the key observations about hurricanes if they hit Long Island:
Category 1 hurricanes inundate just about all of the immediate south shore of the Island, including the north side of Great South Bay locations and both sides of the north and south forks.
Montauk Highway (RT. 27A) is completely covered by flood waters during a Category 3 hurricane. Therefore, this road would be considered impassable during the storm.
The highest storm surges (Category 4) would occur in the following regions:
Amityville Harbor - 29 feet
Atlantic Beach & Long Beach areas - 24 to 28 feet
South Oyster Bay, Middle Bay, & East Bay areas - 24 to 28 feet
Montauk Point is completely cut off from rest of south fork during a category 1 storm.
Much of the north and south forks are entirely under water during a category 3 hurricane.
A category 4 hurricane inundates the entire towns of: Amityville, Lindenhurst, Babylon, West Islip, East Islip, Bayshore, Gilgo Beach, Cedar Beach, Great South Beach, Fair Harbor, Cherry Grove, Cupsogue, Westhampton Beach, Watermill Beach, Wainscott Beach, Plum Island, Gardiner's Island, Orient, Shelter Island (except for a few high points), Greenport, North Haven, Amagansett Beach, Napeague Beach, Montauk, Woodmere, Valley Stream, Linbrook, Long Beach, Atlantic Beach, Freeport, Merrick, Wantagh, Lido Beach, Jones Beach, and Tobay Beach.
The Great Hurricane of New York of 1938
|What's In Store For New York's Future?|
A major obstacle to overcome is public complacency. Approximately 78.5% of current New York State coastal residents have never experienced a major hurricane (Hughes). One must remember that in 1938, Long Island was mostly undeveloped. The next time a major hurricane hits, it will be impacting a highly-urbanized region. The last two hurricanes were mild in comparison to the Great Hurricane of 1938. August 19, 1991, Hurricane Bob (category 2) brushed the eastern tip of Long Island and moved into southeastern New England. Because most of Long Island was on the western side of the storm, winds were category 1 strength and the storm surge was minimal. September 27, 1985, Hurricane Gloria (category 1) moved across the center of Long Island causing much tree damage and beach erosion. In informal surveys, most people believe that this was a "strong hurricane" in the category 2 or 3 class when in fact it was a weak category 1 event. Therefore, there is a misguided sense that Long Island can withstand "strong" hurricanes with only minor inconveniences because few have ever experienced a major hurricane.
Christopher Landsea, a meteorologist at the Hurricane Research Division, and Roger A. Pielke, a social scientist at NCAR, looked at the most destructive U.S. hurricanes on record and predicted the cost if these storms were to hit today. The diagram to the right shows quite clearly that the northeast U.S., especially the Long Island and New York City regions, would suffer greatly. Of the 15 "worst" storms, Long Island would be affected by five of them and the 1938 hurricane today would be considered the 6th costliest of all time. In 1998 dollars, the damage would be nearly $18 billion. Of all the natural disasters in the United States, hurricanes account for about two-thirds of the insured property losses (USGS, 1998).
Coastal New York state is second only behind Florida for the amount of
insured coastal property (Insurance Institute for Property Loss Reduction
(IIPLR) and Insurance Research Council, 1995) so future hurricanes may have
severe economic impact.
Experts now believe that after Miami and New Orleans, New York City is considered the third most dangerous major city for the next hurricane disaster. According to a 1990 study by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the city has some unique and potentially lethal features. New York's major bridges such as the Verrazano Narrows and the George Washington are so high that they would experience hurricane force winds well before those winds were felt at sea-level locations. Therefore, these escape routes would have to be closed well before ground-level bridges (Time, 1998). The two ferry services across the Long Island Sound would also be shut down 6-12 hours before the storm surge invaded the waters around Long Island, further decreasing the potential for evacuation.
A storm surge prediction program used by forecasters called SLOSH (Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes) has predicted that in a category 4 hurricane, John F. Kennedy International Airport would be under 20 feet of water and sea water would pour through the Holland and Brooklyn-Battery tunnels and into the city's subways throughout lower Manhattan. The report did not estimate casualties, but did state that storms "that would present low to moderate hazards in other regions of the country could result in heavy loss of life" in the New York City area (Time, 1998).
Some of the key observations from the storm surge maps for Nassau and Suffolk Counties:
Given public complacency, the amount of people needed to evacuate, the few evacuation routes off Long Island, and the considerable area affected by storm surge, more lead-time is needed for a proper evacuation than in other parts of the country. However, east coast hurricanes are normally caught up in the very fast winds aloft, called the jet stream, so they can move up the coast at great speeds - much faster than hurricanes that impact the southern U.S. In fact, the 1938 Hurricane moved at forward speeds in excess of 60 mph. To this day the Long Island Express holds the forward speed record for any Atlantic hurricane.
Hurricane Climatology Index References
Other International Airports
A Devastated People
By 1700, disease kills thousands of Long Island Indians, and survivors hold on to little land.
By Steve Wick
The Montaukett Indians had lived on the windswept plain for thousands of years. But by the mid-18th Century they had reached a critical milestone in their history. They were, one of them wrote, in danger of becoming "Vagabonds on the Face of the Earth."
Every aspect of the Montauketts' lives had changed irrevocably in the more than 120 years since the English had arrived on the South Fork. Their language, their customs, how they viewed their world, how they worshiped their gods -- all of it was gone. And their reservation on Montauk Point had been shrinking for decades as more of their land was bought up by their East Hampton neighbors in questionable land deals.
Hoping to regain some of the land, a Montaukett named Silas Charles dictated a letter to Cadwallader Colden, the lieutenant governor of New York, in 1764 and scratched his mark -- an X -- at the bottom. He began:
That your Petitioner and those Indians concerned with him, constitute a Tribe commonly distinguished by the name of the Montawk Indians, and . . . at present constitute about thirty families . . . That this tribe continued to live in the Neighborhood; living principally by Planting, Fishing and Fowling, gradually wasting away, and those who remain, now occupy a Tract upon Montawk Point . . .
That they are exposed to, and suffer great Inconveniences from the Contempt shewn to the Indian Tribes by their English Neighbors at East-Hampton, who deny them necessary Fuel, and continually incroach upon their occupations, by fencing more and more of the Indian's Lands, under Pretence of Sales made by their Ancestors.
That your petitioner and his Associates are in Danger of being crowded out of all their ancient Inheritance, and of being rendered Vagabonds upon the Face of the Earth . . .
Charles wanted a secure place for his people to live:
. . . that your honor would be pleased to grant and confirm to said Indians all the Lands on Montawk Point that may appear to be unsold by their Ancestors.
New York history does not record Colden's response, nor what, if any, efforts were made by the colony to help the Montauketts, who would continue to live at Montauk until they were permanently displaced in the 1880s by a real estate promoter.
But the letter reflects how poorly one of the communities of Long Island's first inhabitants was living 12 years before the beginning of the American Revolution. The fate of the Algonquians of Long Island had been sealed by the end of the 1600s -- their communities decimated by disease, loss of land and poverty. By 1764, Long Island had changed dramatically since the first years of English and Dutch settlement. At the west end, prosperous farms straddled the girth of Brooklyn, and at the East End, the village of Sag Harbor was a busy port, home to a U.S. Customs House and wealthy inhabitants.
The eastern half of Long Island, which the British had first called the East Riding of Yorkshire, was now Suffolk County, named for a county in England. There, approximately 13,000 people lived. In the western half, home to Queens and Kings Counties, approximately 14,000 people lived. Across the region, towns were small, insular and set apart; there were no newspapers or colleges.
Indians were part of the landscape, either as individuals or in small groups, but often were not counted in town censuses. If counted at all, many were counted as slaves, along with blacks; others were indentured servants, working on sailing vessels, on farms, and living in small communities at the wooded fringes of towns and villages. When Thomas Jefferson came to Suffolk County in 1791, he found the remnants of the Unkechaugs living in a swampy tract near present-day Mastic. There were Shinnecocks in the western part of Southampton Town; and at Montauk, according to Charles, 30 families lived in small huts and cottages on land set aside by the town as a Montaukett reservation.
The Indians of Long Island were in trouble long before Charles wrote his letter.
In the mid-1630s, an English official in Connecticut said smallpox had killed great numbers of Indians -- entire villages almost at once -- and that the Indians living along the Connecticut River Valley were dying like "rotten sheep." Smallpox had long since ravaged Europe and many settlers to the new world were immune. Later that decade, the Dutch began buying land on western Long Island and the English began buying on the East End. Soon, there were accounts of mass Indian deaths on Long Island.
A Dutch account published in the 1650s indicates that a smallpox epidemic in the 1630s killed 90 percent of the Indian population in the New Netherlands region. In a brief account of his life, written in 1660, Lion Gardiner said a great plague roared through Long Island that year, killing two-thirds of the Algonquian population. There are no accounts that year of mass burials of Indians, but the number of dead surely ran into the thousands.
On April 2, 1661, an Indian leader in Flatlands, now part of Brooklyn, told an official of the Dutch government that, before Europeans arrived, his people were "a great and mighty people," who were now reduced to "a mere handful." In one Long Island town, this "mere handful" was subjected to punishment if they traveled into white areas.
According to scholar John Strong's "The Algonquian Peoples of Long Island From Earliest Times to 1700," officials in East Hampton at this same time ordered Indians not to come into white areas for fear they would bring diseases with them. Indians who violated the ban were fined or whipped.
Farther west on Long Island, Indian life was equally bleak. Daniel Denton, the son of the first minister in Hempstead, wrote an account, published in 1670, entitled "A Brief Description of New York: Formerly Called New-Netherlands." He wrote of the Indians, whose number had fallen only 30 years after the arrival of Europeans. Their deaths, he wrote, were the work of God:
To say something of the Indians, there is now but few upon the Island, and those few no ways hurtful but rather serviceable to the English, and it is to be admired, how strangely they have decreast by the Hand of God, since the English first settling of those parts; for since my time, where there were six towns, they are reduced to two small Villages, and it hath been generally observed, that where the English come to settle, a Divine Hand makes way for them, by removing or cutting off the Indians either by Wars one with the other, or by some raging mortal Disease.
"The Algonquian people on Long Island were overwhelmed in the first years after Europeans arrived," Strong said in an interview. "Their communities were devastated."
Within a generation of Denton's observations, the remaining pockets of Indians on Long Island had been granted reservations. In nearly all of these cases, records show, the reservations were for the permanent use of the Indians. Historians who have examined these land deeds say questions of fraud permeate the deals. In addition, they say rum was given away when deeds were signed even though in most Long Island towns the sale of alcohol to Indians was illegal.
In June, 1687, New York Gov. Thomas Dongan gave the Matinecocks two reservations, one on each side of Hempstead Bay. The reservation on the west side was for 150 acres; on the east side, 200 acres. According to Dongan's grant, the Indians were to "have and to hold" these reservations forever. On top of this, the Indians themselves did not have the power to sell the land.
"I believe Dongan wrote that in because he was concerned about fraud and abuse," Strong said.
But "forever" didn't last long.
There are no records in Hempstead, or anywhere else, of the Matinecocks actually living on these reservations. Six years after the reservations were created by Dongan, the reserve on the east side of the bay was given as a gift by an Indian named Suscaneman to an Englishman, James Townsend -- this in violation of Dongan's grant.
Historian Robert Grumet, who works for the U.S. Park Service in Philadelphia, said this deed is covered with "the scent of chicanery" because later actions by the Indians showed they believed this reservation was still theirs. There also are documents, Strong writes in his book, that show the same Indian who gave the reservation to Townsend giving another man, Moses Mudge, permission to build a house on the tract.
"The transaction from Suscaneman to Townsend is very suspicious," Strong said in the interview.
By 1711, Townsend had passed the land on to two sons-in-law, Thomas Jones and Abraham Underhill. "By that time, the remaining Matinecocks had been dispersed to small enclaves near English towns and were unable to protest," Strong writes. "It is possible that the tract is now part of Hempstead Harbor Beach County Park."
The situation was no better on the East End of Long Island.
By 1700, East Hampton had purchased all the remaining Montaukett lands. The town then granted the Indians residence rights on Montauk "forever." Here, as in Hempstead, "forever" was a relative term. By the mid-1880s, all the Montauketts had been permanently displaced from Montauk Point.
In Southampton in the early 1700s, town officials granted a "thousand year" lease to the Shinnecocks for a large tract of land east of what is now the Shinnecock Canal. Today, a huge piece of this land is occupied by two world-class golf courses. The thousand years ended in 1859, when the town sought to develop the hills on the north side of this tract and pressed the Indians to trade this land for an 800-acre tract on Shinnecock Neck, where their reservation is today. A group of Shinnecocks later testified before a congressional committee that the signatures on this trade agreement had been forged.
Also in 1700, an Englishman named William Smith set aside a 175-acre reservation for the Unkechaugs alongside a creek near modern-day Mastic. Again, the word "forever" was used in describing the Indians' use of the reservation. But by 1730, 100 acres had been taken back by the Smith family; later land transactions involving other parties reduced the reserve to approximately 50 acres.
There are people today on Long Island who trace their lineage to the Matinecocks, who were given the two reservations on Hempstead Bay. But their history on Long Island seems summed up on a carving on a rock in a church cemetery in Queens. The remains of a large number of Indians were unearthed in 1929 when a Queens road was widened. The remains were reburied in the Zion Episcopal Church in Douglaston.
At a ceremony in 1936 -- attended by two Mattinecock descendants -- a large rock was unveiled which had these words inscribed on them: "HERE REST THE LAST OF THE MATINECOC."
Richard Snake, Beulah Timothy, Dianne Snake and Alma Burgoon are among residents of Ontario's Delaware Nation Reserve who still speak an Algonquian language once heard on Long Island.
Refugees Went West and North
When the Kieft War erupted in 1643 across the lower Hudson River Valley, Manhattan island and western Long Island, hundreds of Indians fled west into New Jersey to escape the bloodshed.
These Indians escaped the rampages of Dutch soldiers and English mercenaries such as John Underhill, but they also escaped smallpox and other epidemics that ravaged Indian communities on the East Coast.
Most of the refugees -- who spoke an Algonquian language called Munsee Delaware -- settled in Pennsylvania, then Ohio, where a massacre occurred in the 1790s that pushed them into modern-day Canada. In Ontario, on a reservation called Moraviantown, modern-day descendants of the very Indians who greeted Henry Hudson in 1607, and who helped Adrian Block build a ship during the winter of 1613-14 on Manhattan island, live today.
And a tiny handful of them, perhaps no more than 10, still speak Munsee Delaware. They are the only fluent speakers in the world of any Algonquian language once spoken on Long Island.
But, in interviews, these Indians say they don't regard themselves as museum pieces -- just survivors.
"We feel fortunate that we've been able to live the way we have," said Philip Snake, the chief of the Delaware Nation at Moraviantown. "Leaving New York was the best thing we did."
-- Steve Wick
Long Island: Our Story | photos
LETTERS FROM READERS
My real reason for writing to you is in reference to your airport dream which I found on the onemind list. I instantly recognized this place. The highway is the Grand Central Parkway which is the main access route to La Guardia Airport. It is a narrow, winding route with terrifyingly fast traffic patterns. The runway is clearly visible over on the right side of the highway. La Guardia runways extend into the portion of the Sound which is really a bay and the one adjacent to the airport is the eastern most, although I don't think it is called East Bay. Montauk, by the way, is almost exactly 55 miles to the East of this Airport.
Ironically, as I was considering writing to you I got an email from myfriend in Spain saying that she had been thinking aboutme and reading your Great Dreams site. So I send you this trusting that synchronicity must mean something.
NEWS ABOUT MONTAUK
Source: Newsday: http://www.newsday.com/features/ny-p2cover3345174jun26,0,3729653.story?coll=ny-homepage-promo
By John Hanc
John Hanc is a regular contributor to Newsday.
June 26, 2003
Things were quiet at Camp Hero the morning of Oct. 22, 1962.
Airman 2nd Class Bernie Roke of the 773rd Radar Squadron had just finished shutting down the base's diesel power plant for repairs. He was sitting in a World War II-era blockhouse, looking out a small window at the ocean, just a mile from the eastern tip of Long Island. Originally a cinder block building, it had been reinforced with concrete in order to withstand a nuclear blast. As the base powered down, the only light was from the battery-powered emergency lights that glimmered inside.
It was dark. It was quiet.
The phone rang. It was, Roke recalls, "a very agitated colonel, ordering that the site be brought online." Roke told him about the maintenance shutdown that had been approved by higher command, and hung up. A few minutes later, the phone rang again. This time it was an equally insistent general, demanding that the base and its long-range radar systems go back online immediately. "At first, we didn't really understand the reason for the excitement," says Roke, now a 61-year-old aircraft engineer in Louisville, Ky. "That evening, we watched John Kennedy's Cuban Missile Crisis speech on TV and then we understood."
From then on, Roke recalls, "things got real spooky."
In some ways, they still are.
Forty-one years after Airman Roke and his unit mates found themselves on the front lines of impending Armageddon, Camp Hero is welcoming thousands of civilian visitors in this, its first full summer season as Long Island's newest state park. Opened in September, the 755-acre park and nature sanctuary - which abuts Montauk Point State Park - is endowed with diverse wildlife, Montauk's only forest, three miles of hiking trails and spectacular 100-foot-high bluffs overlooking the Atlantic.
But the park has another identity as well. For 40 years, this was an active military installation - a fort during World War II, then a Cold War-era radar base. Now, thanks to the efforts of the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, local politicians, historians and veterans' groups, the remnants are there for all to see: a giant radar tower (the last of its kind in the United States), two massive bunkers that once housed artillery, and about 30 buildings, including a faux village designed to fool enemy planes.
Here they stand, frozen in time, as if waiting for the attack that never took place. The net effect is eerie - but not nearly as weird as the role Camp Hero plays in the cultish world of UFO, alien abduction and government conspiracy theories. Among those who believe in such things, Camp Hero is the focus of intense speculation about bizarre experiments supposedly conducted here, many of them purportedly at a "secret" underground facility.
The real base - named after Gen. Andrew Hero, the Army's chief of coastal artillery in the 1920s and '30s - was opened in 1942, as part of the coastal defense network guarding American shores against attack by Nazi Germany, principally in the form of the U-boats that prowled these waters. Tunnels were dug (which may explain the "underground" base rumors), designed to connect the four 16-inch and two 6-inch guns that were set up in huge concrete bunkers on hills overlooking the Atlantic. They were supported by anti-aircraft and machine gun emplacements, plus spotting towers at both Camp Hero and the nearby Shadmoor area of Montauk - now also a state park. (The big guns were never fired, except in practice. The sound of them, so the story goes, shattered windows in the village of Montauk, 5 miles away.)
During the war, a garrison of 600 men and 37 officers was stationed at the base. They lived and worked in barracks, mess halls, offices, shops and storage facilities that were designed to resemble a civilian fishing village - supposedly, to fool enemy aircraft.
In 1948, the new perceived threat was from a Soviet air attack, and Camp Hero became one of the first three radar sites established on the Northeastern coast. By 1951, the base - renamed the Montauk Air Force Station - became a component of a nationwide early warning radar system. Over the next three decades, an alphabet soup of radar and tracking equipment was set up at the base - AN/CPS-5, AN/TPS-10A, FPS-20, AN/FPS-5 - one coming along every few years, like new versions of Microsoft Windows. "The function remained the same ... to detect hostile aircraft and track them," says Cold War historian Don Bender, who consulted with the state on the park's preservation.
The pinnacle of this Cold War-driven technology surge was reached - literally and figuratively - in 1960, when the first AN/FPS-35 fixed-surveillance radar system was erected at the base. The Sperry-built radar stood on a bluff overlooking the ocean, atop a seven-story control building. Its "sail," an oblong-shaped screen capable of tracking objects 200 miles away, was 50 feet high and 120 feet wide. The whole structure soared about 150 feet into the sky, making an incongruous addition to the landscape of Montauk. "It became an outpost of the Cold War," Bender said. "You have this sleepy little village, and then you had this thing appear here as a result of these international tensions."
Those tensions reached a near flash point in October 1962, when reconnaissance photos revealed the existence of Soviet missile sites in Cuba capable of firing nuclear weapons at U.S. targets. The fear and reverberations of the subsequent standoff between President Kennedy and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev registered all the way to Montauk.
A few days into the crisis, a van appeared at the gate of the Air Force base carrying two men who said they were delivering test equipment to the block house. With the base on sabotage alert, Roke recalls, the men were spread-eagled on the ground and searched. Then their vehicle was inspected. The men were allowed up to the block house, where they were searched yet again. They left, and no one ever saw them after that. "If it was a test of our security, we passed," said Roke. "But we never really knew if it was."
One night shortly after that incident, a new major transferred to the base. He arrived unannounced and moved immediately into the small military housing area just outside the base (those 27 houses are now private residences). "The guards at the gate knew the house was not occupied, so when the lights went on, they charged into the fray, coming through the front door with weapons at the ready and safeties off," Roke said. "We nearly lost the major before he officially arrived."
At the time of the Cuban missile crisis, Camp Hero and its state-of-the-art radar and tracking systems were a critical part of the U.S. defense network. A decade later, that was no longer the case. As radar technology changed and military resources were redirected, the base was no longer needed. A protracted decommissioning of the base began in 1978, and continued until the closing in 1981. When Maj. Miles Martin arrived as the base's last commander in July 1978, there were 120 military personnel and civilians working at Camp Hero (down from a Cold War-era high of 206 in 1966). The numbers continued to dwindle over the next two years, prompting Martin to hold the base-closing ceremony in November 1980 - two months before the scheduled closing. "Our numbers were getting small enough that to wait would mean we would not have enough people to have the ceremony," recalls Martin, 60, now retired from the Air Force and living in Huntsville, Ala.
By 1984, title to the land was transferred to the state. While the debate about what to do with the old base raged, some believed they knew exactly what was happening behind the barbed wire fences. Three years after the base closed, a man named Preston Nichols - who said he worked for a Long Island defense contractor - visited the old base.
In a book he wrote, "The Montauk Project," published in 1992, Nichols claims to have discovered that Camp Hero was the site of secret government experiments in time-travel and mind control. The book spawned several subsequent volumes, a few videos and dozens of Web sites, all devoted to the supposed "mystery" of Montauk. As the stories spread, they became more elaborate: Tales of black beret-wearing Special Forces and unmarked planes patrolling the base, of weather modification experiments, of people claiming to have been transported back in time, even of alien-like beings called "reptoids" working in the secret underground base. This tickled the imaginations of "X-Files" types around the country.
"I am convinced that there were top secret projects being carried out there," said John Crawford of Hicksville, webmaster of a site called Subversiveelement.com. Crawford says he has received e-mails from people saying they used to see strange lights coming from the base in the '80s and '90s, and from others who claim to hear strange noises coming from the base even now.
One of those sounds might be a very large sigh from park superintendent Tom Dess, who had hoped that "as soon as we opened the park, it would defuse all this once and for all." Alas, the conspiracy din continues loud enough that some of those associated with the base - including one of the radar veterans' groups - will not even answer questions from reporters unless they are assured that the article is not going to give credence to, or focus solely on, what one called "some hokey UFO/mind-control/government-conspiracy/ time- travel nonsense."
So how did Montauk and Camp Hero become synonymous with Area 51 and Roswell, N.M.? "I suppose it makes a good setting, with the remote location and the fact that the base was closed for so long," Bender says. He feels that the Montauk "conspiracy" is not a government plot, but rather, a case of government plod. "To make this park really accessible," he said, "you had to clean out asbestos, deal with unexploded ordnance, demolish old buildings and towers that are decrepit and could be dangerous to people. That tends to have a low priority in the federal government. They work very slowly."
Indeed, it took about 16 years for various federal agencies to complete their cleanups. During that time, there were proposals to convert the old base into a golf course or a housing development. In the end, however, Long Island got a new state park - which, unlike most of our state parks, comes complete with a fake village, a giant radar tower still glowering out at the Atlantic, and a very eerie legacy.
NATIVE - LIES
NATIVE - WISDOM
DREAMS OF THE GREAT EARTHCHANGES - MAIN INDEX