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Old 04-22-2010, 10:19 AM
 
Location: Barrow, Alaska
3,538 posts, read 4,357,070 times
Reputation: 1791
Quote:
Originally Posted by rwjoyak View Post
Back in my younger days, when I was playing city league basketball in Fairbanks, we went up to the Murphy Dome site a couple of times to scrimmage the air force personnel that worked/lived up there. Pretty nice place; in adddition to a gym they had their own bowling alley (with 2-4 lanes I recollect, although it's been a lot of years).

Check out Murphy Dome 1956-1957 (we went up quite a bit later than that, around 1980 or so as I remember) and especially Murphy Dome for some photos, including one of their golf ball dome.
You were probably there about 1970. Somewhere about 1975 the military turned over operations to either a civilian contractor or the FAA (and by 1980 it was the FAA). About 1980 virtually the entire military base was bulldozed. The two radomes were left, plus not shown in any photos that I saw was the White Alice Communications Site which was over the side of the hill at a level significantly below the radomes in order to avoid interference.

Murphy Dome was one of the very few Air Control & Warning (AC&W) sites that was considered a "choice" assignment by military personnel. It was close enough to Fairbanks...

Other "nice" ones were near Nome, Bethel, Dillingham, and Galena. (I'm not very familiar with the ones in South Central, so I'm not naming them, but for example I expect that Kodiak and Soldotna were pretty nice places.) The remote sites where Cape Newenham, Cape Romanzoff, North East Cape, Tin City, Cape Lizburn, Indian Moutain, and some of the others. The were all equipped about the same, with the gym and bowling alley, plus a wood shop and a hobby shop, a fully equipped photography darkroom... and a bar with very cheap booze.

Probably in the 1950's they weren't too bad. But literally by the 1960s most of the officers (about 6 or 7 per site) were assigned as punishment for doing something wrong. The poor officer whose number just happened to come up and no "bad boy" was available suffered. The enlisted men (maybe 75) suffered more or less depending on the officers. For many it was much like spending a year in a minimum security prison. (And to make it all worse, there were perhaps 10 civilian tech reps of various kinds, all of whom made fabulous money and could get on the next airplane and leave if they wanted.)

Virtually all of these sites do indeed have fascinating stories, and a long list of interesting fellows who did some time there.
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Old 04-22-2010, 10:41 AM
 
Location: Bernalillo, NM
703 posts, read 807,141 times
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Wow, 1970 instead of 1980. Only lost a decade somewhere; guess that's what happens when you get old...er..experienced. Thinking back about it some more around 1974-1975 makes sense, since I was driving a Dodge Colt at the time that I bought in 1974.

The reason I remember was because of the ride back to town I gave one of the air force folks after one of our trips up there. Nearly put him and me in the hospital (or worse) when I came down to the end of Murphy Dome Road, which t-bones into Goldstream Road. You can't see this intersection until you're nearly on top of it because of the hilly terrain. So I came up over a rise probably going 35 mph or so and saw the intersection close ahead down the hill...which was very icy at the time. All I could do was hit the brakes, twist the steering wheel hard to the left and slide through the intersection, probably still going 20-30 mph. Somehow we managed to stay on the road.

Even 30 years later I'm still amazed given the road conditions and how fast we were going; must have had an angel riding in the back seat with us. Ever since I've been a firm believer in front wheel drive cars...and am much more open on the subject of whether angels are real. The Colt was not front wheel drive, which makes it even more amazing I made it through the intersection.

I sometimes wonder what the air force guy said about the ride to his buddies...he was very quiet the rest of the trip before I dropped him off in town.
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Old 04-22-2010, 01:16 PM
 
Location: Barrow, Alaska
3,538 posts, read 4,357,070 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwjoyak View Post
The reason I remember was because of the ride back to town I gave one of the air force folks after one of our trips up there. Nearly put him and me in the hospital (or worse) when I came down to the end of Murphy Dome Road, which t-bones into Goldstream Road. You can't see this intersection until you're nearly on top of it because of the hilly terrain. So I came up over a rise probably going 35 mph or so and saw the intersection close ahead down the hill...which was very icy at the time. All I could do was hit the brakes, twist the steering wheel hard to the left and slide through the intersection, probably still going 20-30 mph. Somehow we managed to stay on the road.
You have no idea how funny it is for me to read that!

About 1987 or so I was up at the old White Alice site (the TD-2 microwave system was still in use then), and when I came down the road I saw the tracks from somebody else doing exactly the same thing.

Except, this was in the summer time, the road was dry and had good traction... and my bet is they were doing well over 70, maybe about 90 mph. They left rubber burned on that road from the point that Goldstream became visible, all the way down to the intersection. And then there was a trail headed out onto the tundra and through those little black spruce trees for another hundred yards or so!

It was clear that nobody would have been hurt, and probably the vehicle wasn't damaged either, and just required a wrecker to pull them out. But the idea of how fast somebody's heart was beating all the way was enough to cause a good laugh. Because of course you know I was going to fast too, and while I didn't have to jam the breaks on it certainly gave me a second or so of fright that I might be going right down this same path that I could see before me... :-)

Quote:
I sometimes wonder what the air force guy said about the ride to his buddies...he was very quiet the rest of the trip before I dropped him off in town.
Heh, now days he's doing the same thing you are... telling it to the grandkids! All about them crazy Alaskans he had to live with for a year.
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Old 04-22-2010, 01:48 PM
 
Location: Bernalillo, NM
703 posts, read 807,141 times
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For anyone who's interested, I just found another cool site - Online Air Defense Radar Museum - that is focused on preserving the history of Air Force Stations across the country, including those in Alaska. Has a bunch more photos, personal stories from folks that were stationed there, other documents, etc., about Murphy Dome as well as many other sites. If you're interested, you can get to the Murphy Dome info by clicking on the Radar Sites item in the left frame, which will bring up a search screen. In this screen type 744 into the Unit/Squadron box or Murphy Dome into the Location box, and click the Search for Site button. Then click the hot link that comes up for the Murphy Dome location. .

There's also info on this site for lots of other Alaska sites. I typed in Tin City into the Location search box and it returned info, including photos and documents, for that AF site. If you just type in AK into the State box to search for all Alaska sites, it returns 50+ sites. So this looks like a great website for reading and viewing about the old AF sites in Alaska (and elsewhere) if you're interested.
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Old 04-22-2010, 01:55 PM
 
Location: Bernalillo, NM
703 posts, read 807,141 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Floyd_Davidson View Post
Because of course you know I was going to fast too, and while I didn't have to jam the breaks on it certainly gave me a second or so of fright that I might be going right down this same path that I could see before me... :-)

Wonder just how many folks over the years have either ended up off the end of that road or came close to it. Can laugh about it now but wasn't that amusing at the time.
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Old 04-23-2010, 01:18 AM
 
Location: Anchorage
4,043 posts, read 5,176,645 times
Reputation: 2203
Quote:
Originally Posted by rwjoyak View Post
For anyone who's interested, I just found another cool site - Online Air Defense Radar Museum - that is focused on preserving the history of Air Force Stations across the country, including those in Alaska. Has a bunch more photos, personal stories from folks that were stationed there, other documents, etc., about Murphy Dome as well as many other sites. If you're interested, you can get to the Murphy Dome info by clicking on the Radar Sites item in the left frame, which will bring up a search screen. In this screen type 744 into the Unit/Squadron box or Murphy Dome into the Location box, and click the Search for Site button. Then click the hot link that comes up for the Murphy Dome location. .

There's also info on this site for lots of other Alaska sites. I typed in Tin City into the Location search box and it returned info, including photos and documents, for that AF site. If you just type in AK into the State box to search for all Alaska sites, it returns 50+ sites. So this looks like a great website for reading and viewing about the old AF sites in Alaska (and elsewhere) if you're interested.
Thanks, I am getting quite an education on the "golf balls". Is the Murphy Dome's dome still there? Can it be seen from Fairbanks?
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Old 04-23-2010, 01:26 AM
 
Location: Barrow, Alaska
3,538 posts, read 4,357,070 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gobrien View Post
Thanks, I am getting quite an education on the "golf balls". Is the Murphy Dome's dome still there? Can it be seen from Fairbanks?
The Murphy Dome radar is now operated by the FAA. If I remember right there are two domes. I don't think it can be seen from anywhere in Fairbanks, but that might not be true.
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Old 02-19-2011, 11:38 PM
 
82 posts, read 130,317 times
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Default Murphy Dome

I know this thread is old, but I am familiar with Murphy Dome. There is an AN FPS-117 long range radar there, part of the Alaska Radar System and operated by Arctec Alaska for the Air Force. It is one of 15 in the system. There is a lot of FAA equipment up there too.

We are going up there on 2/28 for some maintenance work, and very soon, a Microwave Radio upgrade.
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Old 02-20-2011, 12:10 PM
 
3,747 posts, read 3,976,377 times
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Kinda wondering which location was chosen myself. You can see the dome in google maps quite well!
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