CAMP HERO: FROM MILITARY INSTALLATION TO STATE PARK
Located at Mantauk Point on the easternmost end of Long Island, the park that is today known as Camp Hero has a rich military history that extends back to birth of the United States.
As a result of the 1776 Battle of Long Island, which revealed this piece of land to be greatly at risk for invasion, Montauk Lighthouse was constructed to help detect incoming British ships. Years later, during World War I, Montauk was also host to an Army presence and Coast Guard personnel (again due to the fear of invasion).
World War II brought an even greater military presence to the area, as well as a new name. In 1942, The U.S. Army was the first to call it Camp Hero. Officially, it was considered the U.S. Military Reservation — and it was complete with barracks, hangars, and even a torpedo testing facility — but the locals preferred “Camp Hero,” and the name stuck, even when it was downgraded to a training facility for the Army Reserves after World War II ended.
During the second half of the twentieth century, some ownership of the military facilities passed from the Army to the Air Force, and the Camp Hero portion was closed for a time. However, the greater area remained an important military destination known for its defensive innovations, such as a SAGE (Semi Automatic Ground Environment) radar system and the NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) defense system.
In 1984, the military base was closed and ownership was transferred to the State of New York. Now known as Camp Hero State Park, this registered National Historic Site is home to 415 acres of beautiful and varied landscapes, an extensive trail system, and some of the world’s best fishing locations.