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CHINIAK

"A hilarious but accurate account of life and the related humorously funny events that occurred at the Kodiak Tracking Station on Kodiak, Alaska during the 1950's and 1960's."

Compiled and Written By:

TONY SMAKER

Chapter One
THE RADAR STATION THAT NEVER WAS

In the mid-1950's the U.S. Air Force built several Aircraft Control and Warning (AC&W) sites throughout Alaska as a part of the pre-dewline defense system to protect North America. At each one of these locations was a companion facility whose primary mission was to provide high speed communications to the Air Defense Headquarters in Colorado. These types of communications sites were called "White Alice". Those facilities were located as close as possible to the radar site and a local village or town. This was an effort to also provide much-needed long-distance telephone service to rural Alaska. In the case of Kodiak, the White Alice site was located on top of Pillar Mountain adjacent to the City proper.

Cape Chiniak on Kodiak, and Sitkinak in the Trinity Islands were two of these radar AC&W sites built by the U.S. Air Force, but were never activated. This happened because of a great advance in radar technology, thereby eliminating their need. Their coverage areas were taken over by the Middleton Island site in the Gulf of Alaska.

Both the Chiniak and Sitkinak facilities were completed in the fall of 1957, and after being accepted, were placed immediately in a stand-by status with only live-in caretakers. These locations were a completely independent city within themselves with separate utility power, sanitation, personnel quarters, messing facilities, with a very complete arctic garage building. The thinking of the government at the time was that it was more feasible to complete the projects in their intact form for security reasons of the properties.

Kodiak benefited from the White Alice facility providing good reliable long-distance telephone circuits. It also provided employment for 7 Kodiakans until the project was phased out by satellite technology in September 1979. The Pillar Mountain site buildings are still somewhat present along with their steel billboard antennas. To this day, the government is still looking for money to tear down the buildings and antenna structures in an effort to comply with current EPA laws.
[Note: this has been done.]

The Kodiak tracking Station site would be later located at the end of a (then) 52.5 mile unimproved dirt road at Cape Chiniak on the northeastern corner of Kodiak Island. The original "Radar" station was located on top of an 800 foot hill overlooking Chiniak Bay and the Gulf of Alaska. The facility complex consisted of one main operations area, movie/recreation hall, power house, and a completely equipped arctic garage. A secondary area was located a half-mile south consisting of one building which was the receiving area, or as it still is known today as "T" Hill or Telemetry Hill.

To the north of the main facility area was the "Little Navy" site. This was Naval Communications receiving facility used for "snooping" for military communications during the cold war. An interesting note here in that it was designed and engineered by a then Naval Commander [Albert] Henry "AB" Stewart, a long-time respected citizen of Kodiak. Adjacent to this facility is the now-defunct WW2 fighter landing strip, Miller Field. It is still there although closed and mostly overgrown with vegetation. Finally, next to this airfield was the old Army Air Corps housing area consisting of approximately forty steel Quonset huts. These huts have long since been removed as a result of the 1978 clean-up of military installations on the island.

Yes, it seemed quite peaceful out at the "end of the road" for a long time, but that was about to change with a bang!!!


Chapter Two

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