Oregon’s Cold War Mystery

June 6th, 2009

Readers of this blog might remember a series of posts from ‘06 about Oregon’s lost Cold War infrastructure…you know, those missives about abandon bomb shelters and radar stations dotting the state. Well someone responded in the comments section about a lost Continuation of Government (COG) and/or Presidential Emergency Facility (PEF) near Bend and possibly called CPIC/West or CIA-ISTAC. I’ve been meaning to investigate this mystery further, but I just haven’t had the time to do more than a cursory query of the inter-webs. So here is what I know so far: The site is supposedly located at 23861 Dodds Road just east of Bend. I haven’t actually driven out there to confirm, but Google maps clearly shows some infrastructure in the area. Those who have looked into the site report that it’s owned by the Army and operated by the Oregon National Guard. Currently, the Guard is running something called the Oregon National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program (ONGYCP) at the location. There was an article in something called The Source in July of 1998 about the facility and it possibly mentioned the bunker portion had been dismantled and/or sealed. It’s also possible there is a companion site at the Redmond Municipal Airport, which is just to the north. Cursorily, I don’t see anything that looks like COGesque, like a microwave communication tower or satellite dish farm or helipad. Of course those could have been dismantled some time ago, so I don’t know if that’s worth mentioning or not. There is a rather extensive microwave site in Bend, but I don’t know how close it is to CPIC/West.

It’s unclear when the site was developed or how extensive the bunkers were, but it was originally called a “night vision device testing & evaluation facility” by the Army. This may have been a cover story to shield the real COG role of the site. Still, it’s unclear as to what the usefulness of the site would have been in the event of some kind of national emergency. Looking at the Redmond airport, it doesn’t look like it could handle the current 747 variant of Air Force One. But I have seen pictures of civilian 767s at the airport. And I do know that the Regan administration went on a massive COG spending spree in the mid ’80s, so this site might have been part of that infrastructure program that also included converting former SAGE sites into COG sites. But I’m confused why Bend would have been chosen as a COG or PEF site. I would have picked Klamath Falls since Kingsley Field has an airfield worthy of large aircraft. Of course K-Falls would have been a secondary nuclear target during the Cold War, so maybe Bend would have made a safe haven in the event of an all out nuclear holocaust.

COG as it stands today is kind of a mess from what I gather. On 9/11, the Vice President was quietly whisked away to “an undisclosed location” (which was really just a bunker below the Naval Observatory), but many top Federal officials were left scratching their heads regarding what they were suppose to do. Even the securing of the president seemed half-assed. I remember seeing news footage of him at all these SAC airbases, which seem like the last place you would want to go during a national emergency since they would be natural targets for evil-doers. My understanding was the COG system had moved way from harden facilities after the introduction of precise atomic warheads in the late ’70s to mobile command units run by FEMA. 9/11 suggested this system either no longer exists or was never effectively implemented. Of course there have always been rumors concerning some kind of secret COG subway system in DC, but the only “evidence” of this are ghost spurs off the current Metro system. Personally, I like the idea of mobile command posts utilizing our fine national park system. To me that seems like an effective and cheap solution to our COG problem. It probably won’t hurt to have plan that could be shared with government officials and employees in the event of a national emergency either.

Finally, there is another mystery closer to home. I’ve heard about an electronic listening station built off of NE Halsey around 148th avenue sometime in 1941. Apparently this was a WWII and Cold War listening post that was replaced in 1971 by the sprawling NSA complex in Yakima. The PDX site might have also captured a Japanese transmission regarding the attach of Pearl Harbor. Probably an interesting story there!

Entry Filed under: The Cold War

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Admin  |  June 16th, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    I got some feedback from someone regarding CPIC/West:

    “I don’t recall the address, but I have on good authority that in fact the Bend installation was an intelligence community fallback site. Staff employment there was ‘out’ to the community; but the site function was well concealed.”

    Sounds like it might have been a CIA COG site rather than a PEF one.

  • 2. Admin  |  June 16th, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Another update:

    “The old SIGINT site along Halsey & 148th was *probably* a Federal Communications Commission Primary Monitoring Post used by the Radio Intelligence Division instead of a Military Intelligence Division & then later an NSA-controlled facility. Closing around the time the site on the grounds of the Yakima Firing Center might just be a coincidence.”

  • 3. admin  |  July 10th, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Scratch that comment about K-Falls being a secondary target…I’m pretty sure they would have been a primary one along w/ these:

    Astoria, Portland, Hood River, The Dalles, Biggs Junction, Umatilla, and Salem

  • 4. Tom  |  July 31st, 2009 at 2:18 am

    I have been in the upper level of this structure and it is very impressive. I am guessing that it sits on top of an underground lava tube and there is no telling how big the underground area is. But based on the amount of diesel generators and fire suppression equipment I am guessing it is huge. The entrance has a full up chemical nuclear and biologic decontamination area and most of the exterior walls are designed to be blown away if a nuke goes off nearby. You have to go through blast doors to get to the elevator that goes below and by looking at what is left of the communications infastructure you can see plainly marked all the crypto circuits and comm connections. The building is grounded for EMP like no building I have ever seen and the exhaust from the heating systems and the deisel generators go through an extensive system to cool the exhaust so there is no heat signature from the building. I would pay a pretty penny to see what is below. The building is in a deactivated state and has been since the end of the cold war, military personnel from Langley stil visit on occasion and do an inspection below but are very tight lipped about the purpose of their visit or any details in regards to the purpose of the building. The upper half of the building was being used for a summer boot camp for at risk teens about 12 years ago and I have no idea what has happened since then. You can kind of get an idea how massive the underground complex is by wandering around the property and you can find some hidden air vents among some trees and rock formations that are quite aways from the building. I also heard that one entire side of the building is made of mylar which radio waves can go through easily and it is used to link to another structure somewhere else that is used to uplink the communications to the defense satellite network. That way you can’t track the satellite signal directly back to this building. If I had to guess this building was a full up presidential bunker in case he got caught on the west coast during a nuclear attack.

  • 5. nicholas hulgan  |  October 31st, 2011 at 7:19 am

    I’ve been a student at this facility. And I’ve gone down in one of the elevators it is crazy I wish I new more about it if anyone has info I’d like to hear what u got. The people running it have been very quit about what used to go one thier. I’ve seen a lot of stuff that they used to use that was let behind so if anyone has? About that feel free to email me. Thanks

  • 6. chris  |  October 21st, 2014 at 2:43 am

    The Redmond “night vision test site” was a commo bunker for the bend bunker. It had 3 sheds for com vehicles and there were some big copper cables buried in a circle. 3 big generators 2 fuel bunkers and a couple underground water tanks, think they were 125,000 gallon tanks (cant remember) smaller main building than bend. It had decon showers. A lot of stuff was ripped out of there before the guard got control of it.

  • 7. john r bruning  |  January 14th, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    If this is the facility at the heart of Biak Training Range, I spent some time in that building in 2013 with my OPFOR group. I was told that it had once been a part of the SDI infrastructure being built in the mid-1980s and would have functioned as a ground control intercept station for star wars weapon systems.

  • 8. anonymous  |  June 13th, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    thank you for this site! I have lived in Bend since 2005 and have been struck the whole time, by how common it is to bump into folks who “used to” be in the NSA/FBI/State/Military etc… now finding this article and its comments help to explain some stuff in my head

  • 9. anonymous  |  June 13th, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    Also- A friend of mine was married to someone who worked at Youth Challenge and she mentioned a secret bunker one time in passing- Until i read this page i didn’t think much of it

    She said it runs all the way between the dodds rd site and the rdm airport site!

  • 10. anonymous  |  June 13th, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19940626&slug=1917506

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