Fortuna Air Force Station: Part II

By / July 13, 2013 / Military Installations

This is our second gallery for the abandoned Fortuna Air Force Station.  It was scheduled for demolition in late-summer/fall of 2013 but still stands as of spring 2014.  Click here to start at part one.

Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station

Stairway to nowhere.

Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station

Terry ventured into the bowels of a structure at the top of the hill and came across this vivid reminder that the men and women who worked here were putting their lives on the line every day and facing a grim future if relations with the Soviets went the wrong way.

Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Order the Book Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station

When we finished photographing the radar facilities at the top of the hill, we proceeded down to the living facilities at the west end of the base.

Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station

The Motor Pool.

Fortuna Air Force Station

The guard house at the southwest gate stands alone and abandoned.

Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station

The barracks are on the right, the mess hall and gymnasium are on the left. We went left first.

Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station

With rusty nails sticking up from the demolition debris on the floor, this warning is more relevant today than it was in the past.

Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station

One of two clubs we found… this one was inside the fence, the other was outside the security gate.

Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station

This club was just outside the fence, a short distance from the guard house.

Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station Fortuna Air Force Station

Troy beginning the hike back to the car. Note to self: bring a bottle of water when you’re gonna spend two hours in the sun.

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

About Author

Troy Larson

Troy Larson is a father, husband, author, photographer, publisher and devoted cat person. Troy is the President of Sonic Tremor Media and co-founder of GhostsofNorthDakota.com

37 Comments

Dennis Herdina

Dennis This a real flashback for me. I was stationed at a base that no longer exsists (Ent AFB Colorado). I worked in the airman assignments section (wing level). I remember these names from the Pass Directory (list of all bases in the world and units assigned). I sent quite a few people to these units and bases in ND. We were the servicing CBPO for MAJCOM ADC which was servicing Majcom in many cases for these places. A lo ofmemories of places I always wondered about but never saw. Thanks

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John Erickson

Very nice picture sets. There is so much that could still be recycled from that site if someone was to put some time into it.

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Cierra

They did salvage many of the other houses that were on the base. I know of a few houses in Williston that are from the base. My dad was one of the semi driver’s that helped move the houses to Williston.

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Terry Shreffler

So many good memories. I was stationed at Fortuna from Dec 65 until Apr 67. I worked Mtce. In both the 64 & 35 towers.

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Bob Frazier

I was stationed there in 1974 – 1975 and 1976 – 1977 sure has changed a lot. I enjoyed my time there.
Worked in both 26 and 35 towers

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Joe Zirbes

I can’t tell you how much I enjoy looking at all of your ND photos. I’m originally from Bismarck but gone since 1954. I live in Florida now but I still am homesick for the wide open spaces of the ND I knew as a kid. Maybe the next time around, I’ll stay.

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NancyFaye

It is still so hard to see the whole AFB left to just rot and decay…..so many possibilities for the grounds/buildings. It was a great place “back in the day”

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Dennis A Cockrell

Civilian stationed there from June 1978 to Sep 1979 as an CS electrician. Had to shut-off water and drain everything in the housing units and barracks and pickled them for abandiment. Most military were gone and only about 7 civilians left when I left. Got to be on the epicenter of a total eclipse of the sun…really neat to see and experience. Enjoyed the wide open spaces. Always looked like dinosaur country to my wife. Our girls loved living in Crosby ND. If you wanted a pizza, you had to go 70 miles down to Williston ND. Went to sunny El Cento CA with desert temperatures and what a difference that was.

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Melanie D. Murschel-Rankins

As a currant Air Force wife, we have been stationed many different places…Davis Monthan AFB right now..this is beautiful but also so sad to see a base in this state…bless you for catching these pics before this station is put to rest!!! I am from ND and never knew of this AFS..so thanks once again..

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John

The facility was bought by some ranchers, gutted for anything of value and went back to the county for delinquent taxes. The National Guard was asked to evaluate it’s destruction, but the place is full of asbestos.

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JLW62

The base was not purchased by ranchers. It was purchased by a man who owned a construction company and raped the place of any worth. He would have cleaned it up but the county got greedy and tried to tax him $250,000/yr. He let it go back to the county and now the taxpayers of the county have to pay for the clean up. I had good friends there including 3 of the last 7 guys. I can see it out of my window everyday. It’s a prime example of our government waste after the base was shutdown.

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Jay Adams

The purchaser may have cleaned it up but we will never know. The county did not try to tax him $250000.00 / year that was probably what they valued the property at for a tax base. There is a big difference between those two things. As the purchaser sold off houses from the base and other items he did not have the county re-evaluate the value of the property to lower the value they had on the property.

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nancyfaye

***yes, now, but that’s because it is abandoned and run down,,,,,back in the day it was a thriving area!!

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Leary,Joseph C.

Worked Maint. on the 35 and a height finder Fps-26 or 27 don’t remember . Norman C. Bennett and I were there in 64-65.We came over from Lewistown,Montana 694th.

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Dolores

I am grateful to you for taking the time to check out these sites in our fair state. Many would be forgotten with out your efforts.

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Jay Adams

Was not bought buy ranchers. Bought by a guy from Williston, Arvid Barstad, he is deceased but his family is in the house building business.

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Mark Bruhn

Was there 77 – 79. Operations and anti-jamming. Lived in one of those barracks for 6 months, and then got married and my wife and I came back and got one of the few apartments in Fortuna. What an amazing bunch of pics. Did some of the work to close the AF ops down.

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Virginia

My husband, Michael Kinney, was stationed at Fortuna from 1962 to 1966. We attended the reunion several years ago & got to tour the site. It looks about the same. Didn’t look to see if there was any left of the radio site across the highway to the south. We were never allowed there even when the base was open.

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Cris

Was at the 926th at Frobisher Airport on Baffin Island in 1961-1962. Isolated or not Fortuna and the 780th was paradise compared with Frobisher. Have explored Opheim and Havre, but never got to Fortuna. USA Today in their daily state glance about three years ago announced that Divide County was to receive a $250,000 grant from the US Dept. of Agriculture to demolish Fortuna AFS and return it to pasture land. I’d have thought it would have long happened by now. Guess there’s a lot of bureaucratic paperwork necessary before hand.

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Rich

Hi. I was stationed at Fortuna AFS from 1973-75 . I worked in the power generating plant, if my memory serves me correctly , we had four 800 kw Nordberg diesels. Sad to see some of the pictures. Nice area to raise a family back then, no need to lock your doors and in near by Westby I found businesses doors open and the owner might be down the street. That was a different time.

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Rich

Just to show how times have changed. When we changed oil in the big diesels, 200 gallons or so, we had a dump truck with a large tank for the used oil. We in stalled a speeder bar, 4 inch pipe with holes in, drove down dirt roads and opened the valve and let the oil flow on the very dry dusty roads. All seem to appreciate this as it keep the dust down. Boy times have changed for the better in this case. We did not know better back then. sorta like changing oil in your car and pouring it around the fence to keep the grass from growing … Terrible

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Tom

How can it be an example of government waste? The base became obselete and according to you, was sold. How is that government waste? Unless you’re a TPer.

BTW, I was born and raised in Fortuna(born in Crosby) and spent the first 9+ years of my life there.

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Bill Webster

I was at Fortuna from 1962 to 1965 as a Heavy Ground Radar Technician. I worked on the FPS 26, FPS 35r and the older FPS 6 & 7 towers. I also worked along side of the tech reps on the installation of theFPS 26 and the FPS 35 and remember running hundred of cables to the OPS center. I saw the FPS35 antenna ripped off the roof after a tech bypassed the six 100HP drive motor starting capacitors. What a mess that was. The NCOIC’s luxary car was punctured when the IFF antenna fel and was 4 feet in the ground. I seem to remember thst the airman was sent to Greenland the next week. My wife was from Plentywood and I still travel back to visit family there. I feel bad about missing the reunions but the timing was never good.

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Lola Rusbult

My husband, Leroy Rusbult, was stationed at Fortuna from 1957 until Jan. 1961. He worked on the scopes and in motor pool. When he arrived in Fortuna on the Soo Line he thought he would catch a taxi. Fortunately an airman was at the bar and gave him a ride up to the base. This was in January so you know it was cold outside. We were married in 1960 and have lived in Plentywood ever since. He just passed away Oct. 29, we had been married for 53 years. He got to tour the base at the reunion with some of his former buddies. Many of the base boys married local girls. I remember when the base first opened, we could see the lights from our farm at Comertown. Was exciting and the base boys used to come over to Comertown for dances. They were always gentlemen and if anyone got too carried away, the “fly boys” always took care of the matter. Thank you to all who served up there in the remote part of the world.

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jean scott

I was there for a total eclipse of the sun. We were bowling on the ladys team, two bowling lanes. At the nco club, while it was going on. My husband worked in the 35-tower.

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Troy Larson

I believe that would have been February 26th, 1979, which means it was 35 years ago, tomorrow! I remember seeing that eclipse in Minot.

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Deloris (Luce) Stamps

OMG I had forgotten about when the antenna on the 35 was knocked down, we have pictures of it somewhere.
My dad (S/Sgt Herman Luce)was stationed there from Oct. 62-June 68. He was RMTCE on the 35 tower.

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Dave Wild

I was a medic from 69 to 71. I also had a job as the head bartender in the Enlisted Club that was the one outside the gate. It also had a bowling alley.

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Jeff Kromer, Col (ret)

My wife Karen and I came to 780th RADS Fortuna from Izmir AB TU in 1978 staying our two-year CONUS Isolated tour between the trailers off base, outside Fortuna, and later base housing. I worked at the GATR site as a SSgt located about a mile from base. We had MSgt West and MSgt Hord as NCOICs. I loved the club and attached two-lane bowling alley. Also loved going up to our sister site in Dana Saskatchewan. The Canadians really knew how to throw a party! In ’79, I believe, the radars closed down and 8 radio guys were left to man the GATR site. We were redesignated Operating Location BS ( you can imagine our unofficial logos). Karen and I moved into the commander’s house and the single guys shared another house. We turned another house into a recreation/club house. Our daughter was born in ’79 in Plentywood Montana. It was a clinic/nursing home…their slogan was “we get you coming and going.” We loved going to Crosby to the Dew Drop Inn for a burger and to Plentywood for Dairy Queen. We would go on commissary trips to Minot 150 miles away with shopping lists for the other site members. We considered Minot “R&R” because it was a real, full-up base and had the Field & Stream Steakhouse down town. I retired in 2011 after 37+ years active duty.

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Donna Tuck (Holmes when at Fortuna)

My ex-husband and I were here at Fortuna from 1976 to 1978. My middle son was born in Minot, medivacted to Minot from Crosby, ND. Seeing these pictures and remembering back in the day, kind of is sad.

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