No need to adjust your listening device. What you’re hearing is the strange and eerie sounds coming from Camp Hero’s radar tower. This cold war era structure is said to be the hub of disturbing, human experiments, and its story inspired one of the most popular television shows to grace the screen in recent history… Stranger Things. Grab your tinfoil hat and join Dyson and Brianna in Montauk, New York, because it’s conspiracy theory time!
In this episode
This week we’re getting weird with it… we’re talking about a decommissioned military base and the bizarre happenings stemming from it.
Camp Hero, a decommissioned military base located in Montauk, New York, is thought by many to have hosted government-sanctioned human experiments involving mind control, time travel, abduction, and hallucinogenic drug experiments.
If you’re thinking, man, that sounds more like the plot of a TV show… well, a little show called Stranger Things was inspired by the legends and conspiracy theories swirling around Camp Hero located on the tip of Long Island. The creepy abandoned radar tower (AN-FPS-35) that looms over the area is believed to be the hub of these strange happenings. Today, Camp Hero’s radar tower is the only one that remains out of the dozens once situated along the American east coast. It’s currently a Historic Site and an instantly recognizable Long Island landmark. The 90-foot-tall concrete tower and its 40-foot-wide steel dish is visible for miles, and although it is no longer active, that doesn’t keep the dish from mysteriously changing positions.
But the SAGE radar tower is only a small part of Montauk’s history. Montauk has a documented history going back over 200 years.
The eastern tip of Long Island has always possessed strategic significance, even going way back to 1792, when the Montauk Lighthouse was erected after the American Revolutionary War. The lighthouse’s mission was to keep a lookout for invading ships.
Montauk was always considered a prime location for a possible invasion because of its remoteness and its location between two major cities – New York and Boston. During high stakes times (like the World Wars) the Army always stationed various personnel at Montauk.
Camp Hero once played an important role during the Cold War, but the area’s war roots go back to when it was commissioned by the U.S. Army during WWII as a coastal defense station.
Camp Hero was originally named Fort Hero, after Major General Andrew Hero, Jr., who was the Army’s Chief of Coast Artillery between 1926 and 1930.
In World War II, with German U-boats threatening the East Coast, Montauk was considered a likely invasion point. The US Army upgraded Fort Hero and renamed it Camp Hero in 1942.
The Army built a self-contained town which included its own power plant, recreational facilities, docks, seaplane hangars, barracks, a giant torpedo testing facility, and 600 feet long concrete bunkers equipped with 16-inch naval rifles that were camouflaged with netting and foliage.
To protect it from enemy bombers and enemy spies in fishing boats, the entire base was built to look like a typical New England fishing village. Concrete bunkers had windows painted on them and ornamental roofs with fake dormers. The gymnasium was made to look like a church with a faux steeple (still stands today). At Camp Hero’s WWII heyday, the 600 enlisted men and 37 officers lived in and operated out of buildings that were painted to look like cottages.
When WWII ended, the base was temporarily shut down and used as a training facility by the Army Reserve. By this point, the naval facilities were largely abandoned, so the guns from the concrete bunkers were dismantled in 1949.
The United States Air Force directed its Air Defense Command to take radar sets out of storage for operation in the Northeastern United States, and with that decision, a radar was placed at Montauk. The temporary operation by the Air Defense Command became more advanced, and on December 1, 1953, the site designation changed, the facilities were incorporated and renamed Montauk Air Force Station, and Montauk AFS became a permanent Air Defense Command network.
In November 1957, the Army closed the Camp Hero portion of the military reservation, but the Air Force continued using the western half of the facility for radar surveillance. The Eastern portion of the site was donated to New York State, but it remained abandoned because of its close proximity to the high-security radar facility.
Throughout 1958, Montauk AFS worked to join the SAGE system (the large computers and radar sites network used to aid in America’s defense against Soviet attacks).
By December 1960, the large, high-power AN/FPS-35 radar tower discussed at the beginning of the episode became operational at Montauk. It was supposedly the second ever built and used “frequency diversity” technology making it resistant to electronic countermeasures.
The radar tower went strong for over a decade, but by 1978 the Air Force had submitted a proposal to the Carter Administration to close the base, as they believed it was becoming largely obsolete due to the emergence of orbital satellite reconnaissance technology.
The Montauk installation was shut down on January 31, 1981. Removing the giant antenna proved problematic, so instead, it was “abandoned in place”. A Ground Air Transmitter Receiver (GATR) facility remained in service for 3 more years in order to direct incoming and nearby military aircraft.
In 1984, the land was donated to the National Park Service. The land. Surface only. The paperwork stipulated that New York State would own everything on the surface of the base, but the government retained “ownership of everything below the surface”. Which has made many people wonder if the myths are true about the secret Montauk projects at Camp Hero….
Rumors that the US government had been conducting experiments in psychological warfare in Montauk at Camp Hero began in the 1980s and was rumored to be an extension of the 1943 Philadelphia Experiment.
A conspiracy theory centred around the US Navy’s project to manipulate powerful electromagnetic fields aboard the USS Eldridge to render the ship “invisible” to Nazi radar, mines and torpedoes, so they could transport goods to allies in Europe undetected.
The US military has never confirmed the existence of the Philadelphia Experiment, but according to conspiracy theory folklore, not only was the Navy able to knock out the Nazi radar they also accidentally caused the USS Eldridge to travel through time.
A movie bearing the project’s name was later made in 1984, telling the story of two sailors aboard the USS Eldridge during World War II who are transported 40 years into the future.
After watching the film, 57-year-old Al Bielek thought the experiment seemed familiar and he believed he’d experienced something similar.
After undergoing hypnotherapy, he was able to uncover repressed memories about working on the Montauk Project in the 70s and 80s.
He claimed that the memories were forcibly locked away in his head to ensure the experiment was kept secret. But as the memories came rushing back to him, he reportedly learned that his name wasn’t even Al Bielek. His real name was Edward Cameron, and he worked on the Philadelphia Experiment with his brother, Duncan.
Bielek said in the 1940s, Nikola Tesla figured out how to make the USS Eldridge invisible, but this feat opened up a wormhole into the future. The ship wasn’t invisible, it was actually absorbed into the wormhole.
He claims he and his “brother” Duncan were on the USS Eldridge when it entered the wormhole and they jumped off it and landed at Montauk’s Camp Hero in August 1983. But they were promptly sent back by the government after receiving instruction to destroy the equipment on the USS Eldrige.
Bielek claimed he and his brother completed their mission, but the government continued doing experiments on building portals into the future.
2 men, Preston B. Nichols and Peter Moon helped legitimize Bielek’s story when they wrote a series of books titled Montauk Project. The series confirmed what a lot of people living in and around Montauk already suspected: the former military base had once conducted scary and secretive research projects.
In The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time, Nichols outlines how he also recovered repressed memories about his stint as a subject in the secret government experiments.
He says the Montauk facility is comprised of twelve levels hidden underneath the radar station, where the government developed psychological warfare techniques using electromagnetic radiation on homeless people and “runaway” teenagers, known as ‘the Montauk Boys’. The techniques involved mind control, psychic abilities, and time travel.
He was originally teleported to Montauk in 1968 to work at the radar tower. The antennae would produce a signal as high as 425MHz, which disrupted the human brain.
He claimed he stayed and worked with Al Bielek on the Montauk Chair, which was an experiment using electromagnetics to amplify psychic powers.
Duncan Cameron was found to have psychic powers and became the focus of many of the Montauk Chair experiments. Apparently, Duncan could manifest objects just by thinking about them while in the Chair. The first experiment was called The Seeing Eye. For example, if Duncan concentrated hard enough while holding a lock of someone’s hair, he could see through that person’s eyes, hear through their ears, and feel through their body. As long as he had a piece of the person or a very personal artifact, he could see, hear, and feel through anyone on the planet.
Nichols continued to experiment with Duncan, who was such a powerful psychic that no one suspected that he was a man from the distant past inserted into a new body. He tried to harness his adept subject’s powers in the Montauk Chair to conduct mind-control experiments using special radio dishes at Camp Hero.
After several years of experimenting with Duncan in the Chair, Nichols claims that they could reliably travel to other times and places, like Mars.
Duncan was proving to be very powerful, so to try something new, Nichols’ superiors told him to turn on the Montauk Chair and leave it running. By doing so, the Montauk Project successfully created a time wormhole to 1943 (40 years earlier). That’s how Ed and Duncan Cameron came through the portal on the USS Eldridge.
Nichols kept the Duncan of 1943 away from the 1983 version but quickly realized that time travel was way too complex and far too dangerous to be messing around with (everything else they were doing was totally fine though!). He and his colleagues hatched a plan to use Duncan to shut down the project.
“We finally decided we’d had enough of the whole experiment. The contingency program was activated by someone approaching Duncan while he was in the chair and simply whispering “The time is now.” At this moment, he let loose a monster from his subconscious. And the transmitter actually portrayed a hairy monster. It was big, hairy, hungry and nasty. But it didn’t appear underground in the null point. It showed up somewhere on the base. It would eat anything it could find. And it smashed everything in sight. Several different people saw it, but almost everyone described a different beast.”
Nichols had to smash all of the equipment that powered the Montauk Chair before the beast disappeared back into nothingness. That incident, plus the successful time anchor that was built between August 12th, 1943, and August 12th, 1983, ensured that the project would be shuttered. Employees were then brainwashed and, in 1984, the lower levels of the base were filled in with cement.
Maybe some of this sounds familiar, but that might be because I’ve made mentions of Stranger Things throughout this episode.
Stranger Things was originally titled “Montauk” but was later renamed after production was moved to Indiana because of various loopholes associated with filming in New York. Parallels between the Montauk Project and the show are apparent…
Synopsis of Season 1: Under the guise of conducting research for the United States Department of Energy, nefarious scientists at the Hawkins National Laboratory kidnap children to use in a variety of supernatural and psychic experiments. One of these subjects—known by the number tattooed on her arm, Eleven—escapes, and uses her telekinetic powers to help find Will, a local boy who is lost in an alternate dimension called the Upside Down.
The existence of The Montauk Project has never been proven.
In 1984, the land was donated to the National Park Service, as it was deemed environmentally important due to its ecosystems and animal life. The NPS transferred ownership to the New York State Parks Department, and Camp Hero State Park officially opened to the public in 2002.
Fishermen on the Atlantic Ocean and Block Island Sound lobbied to save the massive radar tower since it was a better daytime landmark than the Montauk Point Lighthouse.
The only sign of life amidst the post-apocalyptic landscape is the occasional maintenance worker, driving around the park. Otherwise, you’ll feel as if you have the entire park to yourself. The park is beautiful, and you’ll likely have a lovely visit, but you’ll never shake the feeling that you’re being watched – whether it’s from the eyes of the employees or unseen eyes trapped in a time warp, that’s up for you to decide.