With over 415 acre’s to explore, Camp Hero State Park offer’s beautiful views of untouched habitat’s, Wildlife and Ocean Views as well as a quick History lesson of an old Long Island Coastal Defense Base.
ABOUT CAMP HERO
The Camp Hero state park is a 415 acre shoreline park that borders the Montauk Point State Park. The park offer’s a very diverse landscape that includes heavily wooded areas, long beachfront views along the Atlantic Ocean and it’s cliffs, and an historic military installation. When one dives in a bit more, they will find that Camp Hero State Park offers up more pristine maritime forests, fresh-water wetlands, spectacular ocean vistas and a dramatic bluff system rising up from the rocky beaches below.
In order to really appreciate the old military base turned state park you can hike, bike or horseback ride it’s extensive system of trails. During a trip to Camp Her, visitors can also take a break from their activities at the picnicking area and enjoy the Nature in the area since the base’s closure.
The former military base has been registered as a National Historic Site.
SWIMING IS NOT permitted at this park, but fishing is with a permit.
See more information at: http://nysparks.com/parks/97/details.aspx#sthash.0CEOc2hs.dpuf
Camp Hero History
Early History Pre-1942 : The Vulnerable eastern tip of long island has always played a high part in Long Island’s military history, even starting back to the days of the American Revolutio. In 1776, with the Battle of Long Island, the Point was proven to be a key strategic location. In order to help protect the Boston and New York Harbor’s, George Washington authorized the construction of the first New York Lighthouse as a military look out.
During World War I, Montauk was remote and desolate, it’s location a prime one between two American Cities for a possible invasion. At this point the Military had stationed an airplane, some troops, and Coast Guard Personnel at Montauk to aid in protecting it.
from 1942-1957. with World War II ravaging the world the eastern end of Long Island was once more considered to be a likely invasion point from german U-boats. The US Army upgraded the existing fort and in 1942 renamed it to what its called today, Camp Hero, after Major General Andrew Hero Jr. The newly formed and upgraded Camp Hero was quickly expanding and the Navy purchased the surrounding land, including Fort Pond and the Montauk Manor. The Navy’s goal’s were to build Docks, barracks, Seaplane hangers and various other buildings. The area was also turned into a huge torpedo testing facility.
The whole area that was covered by the U.S Army, Navy and Coast Guard and officially called “US Military Reservation” but to the locals, it was still “Camp Hero”
With the end of World War II, the facilities were no longer need and were temporarily shut down. The facility shortly re-opened as a training facility for the Army Reserves while the Naval facilities in the area were abandoned.
1956 to 1984.
The camp was made into the Montauk Air Force Station. While the Army still used the Camp as a training facility, the Western Portion was transferred over the 773rd Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron. The Air force jointly ran the entire facility with the Army.
In 1952, the 773rd Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron was transferred over to the 26th Air Division and was operated as an Air Defense Direction Center. The Army later closed the Camp Hero portion of the reserve in 1957. In 1958, the SAGE Tower (Semi Automatic Group Environment) radar system was installed at the facility, and it was merged into the national air defense network, the facility also played a major part of the entire NORAD Defense system. The SAGE tower today can be seen while driving East on Montauk Highway as well as out at see as it towers higher over the Treeline, then the Lighthouse.
In 1963 the squadron was renamed to the 773rd Radar Squadron (or SAGE) and was officially closed on July 1, 1980. The Anennea area that was used was “abandoned in play”, but its controlling motors and electronics were all removed. By removing all of the motors and electronics it allowed the dish portion to move with the wind during storms, preventing it from ripping off its base.
The GATR or Ground Air Transmitter Receiver facility had remained in service to help direct any military aircrafts operating within the region but eventually met the same fate of the camp and was deactivated in 1984
In 1984 the entire reservation was deactivated and the General Services Administration had attempted to sell the entirely defunct area to real estate developers, but local environmental activists had protested this, the activists claimed the site had a unique ecosystem and animal habitats. Sensitive portions of the reserver were donated to the National Park Service, which was later turned over to the New York State Department of Parks. The portions that were not deemed as environmentally sensitive were eventually sold off.
Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s Camp Hero remained undeveloped, in 1996 a feasibility study was performed to look into creating a golf course. Environmentalists were concerned with the prospect of a golf course, voicing their concerns that the golf course would impact rare species of plants and the areas engangered wildlife like the Blue-Spotted salamander and the Eastern tiger salamander, they were also worried about the irrigation and the depletion of the peninsula’s groundwater sources. The golf course was never created and the idea was finally dropped in 1999.
In 1992, two authors, Preston Nichols and Peter Moon wrote a book called “The Montauk project: Experiments in Time”. The Authors alleged that secret experiments were carried out through the base. The book became pretty popular with conspiracy theorists
Today’s Camp Hero State Park, was opened to the public on September 18, 2002. When the park first opened there were plans to create the old abandon SAGE tower into a museum and an interpretive center that focused on the World War II and Cold Ware history. While the park is open to the general public, some areas remain fenced off due to safety concerns of unexploded devices and falling debris from the old radar dish that still stands to this day.
Today Camp hero sit’s as a reminder to it’s long past of defenses and operates as a New York State park, The grounds are open and a parking pass can be purchased at it’s gate or Montauk Lighthouse’s parking lot.
Camp Hero Lore and Legend
Montauk’s Camp Hero has such an interesting set of conspiracy theories that range from Inter-dimensial travel, time travel, and brain control.
Montauk Monster: Some say the Montauk Monster is from Plum Island and is a lost experiment that escaped. Other’s say it’s a creature from a 3rd dimension that was brought through a wormhole (think stargate) at the camp, others say its just a old dog that was decomposed and washed up on the shore.. If you walk up to anyone visiting or who lives in Montauk or the south hold town, they’d tell you something completely different.
Mind Control: It’s believed that the Camp Hero was home to experiments from the US Military to help control people’s minds. The scientists would work underground in the vast tunnel network that existed and in the large Radar dish. This was all happening during the time when the base was supposedly abandoned. This conspiracy was exaggerated based on the fact the base was still off limits , and the military was actively cleaning it up for civilian use, and kept certain areas off limits from civilians.
Philadelphia Project Involvement: The Philadelphia project was supposedly an experiment with stealth and invisibility technology on an old Naval Destroyer. The military had hoped that this would cloak the vessel during war.. How ever the vessel vanished and re-appeared with this crew mixed in with the metal in the ship. According to legend the ship traveled to a different dimension, just like where the Montauk Monster had come from, using technology that was in research at the Camp Hero and Plum Island Military bases.