Monday, July 20, 2009

Amazing Abandonded Adak

I've been following Kensblog for a while now--it's the chonicle of the Great Siberian Sushi Run, a voyage by four Nordhavn trawler yachts from Seattle to Tokyo, for lunch. Our protagonst, Ken Williams, is now on the Alaskan island of Adak, way out in the Aleutians.

Says Ken,

After WWII, Adak was taken over by the Navy. From the 1950s to the late 1990s, Adak was a major Navy air base. At its peak, Adak was home to over 6,000 Navy and Coast Guard personnel.

There was essentially no civilian population. The Navy base on Adak had no nearby city that the troops could visit for a little relaxation. The base was essentially in the middle of nowhere, disconnected from the rest of the world. It is perhaps for this reason that the Navy seems to have gone ‘over the top’ to create a livable community here on Adak. Families seem to not only have been tolerated, but welcomed, and encouraged.

In the 1990s, Adak had all the comforts of a ‘real city;’ a college, movie theater, two high schools, elementary schools, roller skating rink, Olympic sized swimming pools, ski lodge, bowling alley, skeet range, auto shop, photo lab, racquet ball courts, day care center, an $18 million hospital, designated bird watching areas, organized fishing trips, hikes and more. The Navy even had a group, called MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) whose only job it was to keep the troops happy.

Then, the Navy left. Today, Adak's population is between 100 and 150 people, who live in the crumbling ruins of a ghost town built for thousands. Needless to say, they don't see many visitors--and there aren't many opportunities to see Adak. Check it out at Adak - Sometimes we win, Sometimes the weather wins.

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