November 01, 2012

Visit to Ramore AS / RCAF Station Ramore / CFS Ramore

Ramore was first operated by the USAF, then the RCAF, and was operational from 1953 to 1974.  It was sold to a lodge, which failed as a business, and parts of the station still remain standing today.  On my previous trip I had only investigated the operations site at the top of Lava Mountain, but this time, with CE, camped overnight, did some light painting and low light digital photography (him, not me), and investigated the residential site below.  The dump is still operational at Ramore, so there is some light local traffic.  We saw some other trucks pass by while we were investigating the garages and maintenance buildings, but I have no idea where they were going.  It was the middle of hunting season, so I suspect several people have little back roads they like to frequent to find that "perfect spot" to hunt at which they keep going back to... legally or illegally!

I was surprised to find the barracks falling to pieces and and the parade square in fine shape.

To the West of the massive generator building, there was a covered concrete tank, very large, with vent pipes and an inlet of some kind going to it.  I'm not sure what it was, but we didn't go down into the darkness.

In the Southern-middle radome building (shown below) there were several square pools of water which seem to be openings into a basement of lower level.  Poking around with a stick indicated that they were quite deep (6ft-8ft+), draining them and getting down there seem like a good idea for next year; but I'm going to need a gas/diesel powered trash/semi-trash water pump!  I'll be passing the hat to see if anyone wants to lend me one, as I really don't need to *own* one.

Lessons Learned
  • As before, bring more air photos and satellite imagry.  You can never bring too many air photos.
  • Sleeping with the wind swinging creaky shutters on the generator building is crazy-spooky.

Post-Trip Research
As with the pictures from Senneterre, I did some more digging in the archives of the site (provided by my new friends! THANKS GUYS!) and below are pictures salvaged from the sadly now defunct site.  RIP Ren.

CE and I saw several of these locations, and the vintage pictures fill in a substantial number of gaps.  There was a lot of "what was this?"  and "why is there a hole here" - well lots of it is explained when you see the pictures of the time.
The view of the base from the south in 1959 shows the generator building, operations site, new radar and radomes on the far right and left.
Aerial photo of Operations site from Beaver aircraft, May 1959
Courtesy Ren L'Ecuyer

 The view of the domestic site.  You can see the garages, mess, H building and guard post quite well.
Aerial photo of Domestic Site from 4,200 feet, May 9th, 1962
Courtesy Department of Energy, Mines and Resources.

 Here we have the operations bldg at the top of Lava Mountain
Toward the top is the road that heads to the GATR (or perhaps TX/RX) site
Aerial photo of Operations site from 4,200 feet, May 9th 1962
Courtesy Department of Energy, Mines and Resources.

 This is a fantastic vantage point showing the entire layout of the base
Including the fuel tanks which are no longer there, but the berms around them are.
Aerial close up of Operations site, May 9th, 1962
Courtesy Department of Energy, Mines and Resources.

This greenhouse is no longer there, from the picture it was located beside the parade square near the "H" buildings
Greenhouse, August 21st 1999
Courtesy Bob Agar

Where this fireplace was, which I believe was in the combined mess, is now a hole. 
Yes, someone stole the fireplace!
Wish I'd thought of it...
Unknown remains in the domestic site - 21 August 1999
Courtesy Bob Agar.

Same spot, other side of the fireplace, and showing the mess kitchen in the background. 
The supports on the left, presumably for a roof, have fallen over since this picture was taken.
Unknown remains in the domestic site - 21 August 1999
Courtesy Bob Agar.

This picture shows the view from the shipping door across what is now a pool of water.
I think it shows fairly certainly that there is a lower level to the building.
Unidentified buildings in Operations site - 21 August 1999
Courtesy Bob Agar.

 The vegetation prevents any kind of picture like this from being taken today
That picture has been taken facing SW
Diesel Power House on the "Hill" - February 1956
Courtesy Ralph Gronlund.

 I think this picture has been taken facing West.
The radome building on the right has been levelled, the one on the left still stands (sans radome)
Search and height finder radar towers and radomes, February 1956
Courtesy Ralph Gronlund.

 I now know that this picture was taken at The Poderosa - the rec bldg by the lake
We drove by, but didn't take any pictures ourselves.
The Ponderosa is now being used by a camp, and looks to be in good repair
Cpl. Al Amyotte (without shirt) and unidentified Radar Techs at Ponderosa - June 1972
Courtesy Margaret Renaud.

 Notice the stone chimney?
Left rear is Cpl. Brian "Tex" Redden - June 1972
Courtesy Margaret Renaud.

 The stone chimney is clearly attached to this...
Karen and Joey Renaud sitting on the fireplace mantle in the Ponderosa - June 1972
Courtesy Margaret Renaud.

The same chimney can be seen on the left
This picture is recent, but since the fire, it has clearly been fixed up.
Remains of the Ponderosa - September 2001
Courtesy Ian Curran.

This picture was probably taken facing NW
Don Church in front of the entrance to the Operations building - July 1955
Courtesy Bob Miller.

 I believe this picture has been taken facing NE, and to the left of the picture you see a ~100,000 Gallon Diesel storage tank, which had a berm around it.  We found the berm, the tank is long gone!
(L-R) Iverson, Bumpus, Skkags, Jake Jacobs - August 1955
Courtesy Bob Miller.

 We did not head over to the GATR site, as it would have been too tight for the full-sized Suburban
Trees and plans have completely taken over the area, an ATV-sized trail remains of what was once a road.
Motorcycle parked at the GATR site (looking north) - June 1970
Courtesy Rick Lean.

I didn't see this building at all.
Unidentified building just across from the MSE 9 bay garage, on the left as you start to go up the hill to the Operations Site - August 2002.
Courtesy Bob Agar.

 This shows where the gas pumps used to be.  As the asphalt hasn't been disturbed, you can be sure the 2000 gallon gas tank and 1000 gallon diesel tank are still there under the surface.
The nine bay garage - 24 February 1964
Courtesy ADC Museum.

 This is the view shot East toward the combined mess, all the buildings pictured are now gone.
Only foundations and memories remain.
And the snow keeps piling up - 24 February 1964
Courtesy ADC Museum.

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  1. Hi Steffan
    The pic of the fireplace by itself is the rec hall or px it had a beautifull bar as well as a two lane bowling alley in it. the mess hall was more central north of the barracks and east of the big garage.
    Ian Curran

    1. Thank you Ian! That explains a lot - The bowling alley can now be identified from the hundreds of rusty nails that have been left behind since someone picked up the wood some time ago. Sadly, or perhaps fortunately, someone has made off with the entire fireplace - I hope it was re-assembled at someone's cabin and is serving them well... I hope to stop by again later this summer, and if you have any requests for pictures of any specific areas/buildings/angles let me know!

    2. Hi, the fireplace that was standing was built by the owners of Lava Mountain Lodge and is still private property, fyi

  2. Hello! As of yesterday, Sept 26, 2015, the Ponderosa was burned down. The Township of Black River-Matheson owned the bldg., and decided it was no longer useful. So, the local fire departments used the bldg. for their training and burned it! Sad, and lots of memories and happy times at the Ponderosa!

    1. Well that's terrible. Thanks for the tip Diane! I feel a letter to the township council coming on...

  3. Hi Diane. I was stationed in Ramore from 1966 to 1967 as an LAC and worked in the Construction Engineering Section which was located on the extreme left side as you entered the station. We had a Mr. Moffat working with us and I am wondering whether you are or were related to him. I believe our building is still there. Every time I visit Canada I stop by and and take a few minutes to walk around the station. Lots of memories. I used to pump gas and set the pins in the bowling alley to make a little extra money. Those were really good times.

    1. Hello Lucky Luke! Mr. Bob Moffat is his name, and he's my Dad! He still lives in Ramore with my Mom. My Dad is now 83, and is doing good. There isn't very much left of the air base, which is sad.

  4. Hi Diane. I am happy that your dad is OK and doing good. I don't want to clutter up Steffan Watkins blog with this so here is my mail address. I would be happy to hear from you. Thank you.

  5. Hello Diane. I have decided to use my real name rather than "Lucky Luke". Do you know exactly what your father was responsible for at the CE section? We also had a Mr. Coughlin as Foreman of Works. Believe his first name was Lloyd, but I am not positive. It is also possible that we had a Ken Crowther there as a draftsman? I worked for Corporal Doxtater and Flying Officer Harper was the SCEO during my time there.

  6. Does anyone know if there is any underground bunkers or tunnels at ramore site?

    1. There weren't any bunkers or tunnels at any of the Pinetree Line sites; except for some steam tunnels where pipes were laid underground... specifically Ramore; no tunnels that I'm aware of, and I'm pretty certain there were no "bunkers" or other subterranean manned facilities. There should be a few large water reservoirs and wells; one reservoir is beside the generator bldg and accessible via ladder. LMK if you find more info!

    2. Thanks for the info! A group of us are looking at purchasing the Ramore site and heard rumors of tunnels through the mountain.

    3. It's an amazing site! Good luck!
      Email me for more info :)

  7. The CFS Ramore is no longer a tourist sight. It is now privately owned and the base is now off limits to the public

  8. Hello. On this site theres a picture with some men having a few beers. I was floored to see that one of the men in the photo is my Grandfather John Murry Wixson. The photos brought back good thoughts of my childhood at Lava in the 1980's. I still visit ramore often as thats where both my families are from. Thanks for the great pictures and stories.