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Rebecca Dolan

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Abandoned Bermuda: Exploring An Old NASA Outpost On Cooper's Island

Posted: 05/23/2012 8:00 am

Everything begins to change once you pass the airport. The road is no longer lined with quaint houses painted in shades of lime and coral. Industrial structures that seem both foreign and familiar loom.

To anyone who's spent time on a U.S. military base, the architecture might be a giveaway. The area, airport included, was home to Naval Air Station Bermuda from 1970 to 1995. The architectural style -- if you want to call it that -- is pretty unique.

This area, on the eastern part of St. David's island, has a long history as military territory. The story goes something like this: In 1944, consumed by WWII, the U.S. developed Fort Bell and Kindley Field airfield on the island. Cooper's Island was used to house ammo bunkers and underground storage tanks. The Air Force hung out for a while before the Navy came in for good in 1970. In 1960, NASA was given permission to build a tracking station on Cooper's Island.

The station played a role in the Mercury Project, as well as all of the Gemini, Apollo and Skyab missions. Then, in 1997, NASA shut down the station. In 2001, the U.S. handed the land back over to Bermuda.

Some of the structures on St. David's have already been reclaimed by local businesses -- and repainted in those characteristic bright hues -- and others are waiting to be refurbished. Cooper's Island, however, has been made into a nature reserve. Remnants of the island's military past remain delightfully untouched and, since it's open to the public, anyone can explore the eerie old buildings and bunkers.

Check out some photos from Cooper's Island below.

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  • Old buildings heading towards the tracking station

  • Even the danger signs are more colorful here.

  • What's left of the satellite tracking station. For a photo of what it looked like back in the day, check out <a href="http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20110617/NEWS07/706179983" target="_hplink">Bermuda's <em>Royal Gazette</em></a>.

  • Cooper's Island circa 1980

  • Inside the satellite base

  • Bunker

  • Inside

  • Further inside

  • Another underground entrance

  • Since being turned back over to Bermuda, Cooper's Island has become a nature reserve. Learn more about the habitats from the <a href="http://www.conservation.bm/coopers-island/" target="_hplink">Bermuda Ministry of Public Works</a>.

 
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