Friday, October 4, 2013

Photo Essay: George Air Force Base, Abandoned & Consumed

Abandoned military bases aren't uncommon in Southern California, though most of the ones I've encountered are slated for some kind of adaptive reuse, or are completely closed off.

The closed George Air Force Base in Victorville, CA, near Route 66 and the Mojave River, on the way to Vegas, is neither.

Despite its designation as a superfund site (because of ground contamination from toxic and radioactive materials like jet fuel, metals and other contaminants), it is abandoned, neglected, and becoming consumed by nature.



Officially closed in 1992 at the end of the Cold War, though also used as a filming location through 2000...



...at first, the base doesn't look so bad.



Parts of it are still maintained, and even somewhat manicured, with a few surrounding businesses open, like a church and a children's playground and community center.



But past the front gate, a security kiosk which is no longer manned...



...you catch a glimpse of the apocalypse.



Empty barracks seem to stretch for miles across the huge property.



Scraggly trees tower over the low homes...



...while some of the heartier, more robust ones just didn't make it...



...and are laid to rest where they once stood.



Much of the housing is burned out, soot-stained window frames peering out like sets of black eyes...



...their barricades broken, boards never mounted or at some point removed.



And then there are the tumbleweeds.



MY GOD, THE TUMBLEWEEDS.



Even at the hospital...



...the tumbleweeds are taking over.



The footprint of this air force base is huge and, by my calculations, not really walkable...



...so I only managed to take a cursory drive around the plot, snapping as many quick photos I could get, sometimes leaving the car running and not even parking.



To be honest, that place spooked the hell out of me. Usually when I visit some derelict site full of dilapidated buildings, I fantasize about the glory that once was, with an endless curiosity as to what lies inside those buildings, and what they might one day become.

At George Air Force Base, for some reason I was terrified. It felt menacing, not merely forgotten - as though it might one day rise up and turn against us all.

As I drove away, rushing to get back to LA to pick up my car, promising myself to work up the courage to return for a full day's exploration, I said to myself, "They've got to tear that shit down."