September 21, 2014

Casey, Québec 2014 Trip

Old Road to Casey Airstrip
Between September 13th and September 15th I took a trip to the Casey Emergency Airstrip to check out what I hadn't seen before, and meet some new faces from L'Association Les Ailes Québécoises.  I detailed in my last Casey-related post what I wanted to accomplish, and at least attempted to get to each of the sites I mentioned.  Pierre Nadon, whom I met at Casey, pointed out additional sites that he and his friends from the flying club had unearthed before I arrived.  Unfortunately for me, it had been raining for quite some time, and the dirt road from Mont Laurier to Parent was rather miserable to drive on.  It took ~8.5hrs to drive from Ottawa, ON to Casey, QC with few stops.  On the way back I went East; taking me through La Tuque, Shawinigan, Trois-Rivières, and Montreal.  It took longer, but the road was better - it also wasn't pouring rain, so that probably helped!

Airstrip

Casey Emergency Airstrip

I paid better attention to the condition and construction of the airstrip than I had before, and took a video of driving around the perimeter of the entire airstrip.  The initial construction of the airstrip seems to have been concrete, with expansion joints filled with tar.  The entire airstrip is ~2500M long, but the middle 75% of the runway is paved over with asphalt, and at each end is still just concrete.  At either end there are parts of the concrete that have deteriorated and crumbled somewhat, but the majority of the airstrip is in superb condition.  As the airstrip is no longer maintained, the trees on either side have encroached where previously it was cleared.  The runway surface has some pebbles and sand on it in spots where ATVs have tracked the surrounding dirt onto the airstrip; a good sweeping would clear it up quite nicely.

Munitions Storage

Munitions Stoage
(pad where bldg was)
As I'd been told, and seen from the available satellite imagery, I found the munitions stoage facility at the end of a trail at the south end of the air strip, on what I believe was a man-made, or at least man-reinforced, peninsula in the middle of a swamp.  There were berms on all sides of the bunker in the air photos, and they are still as high as they had been when they were originally built.  I would guess they are 10-15ft high.  From the hole someone before me had dug in the side of the berm, I'd say they are sand and then topped with a layer of larger stone for structure.  The pad the building was on is concrete, thick and in perfect shape.  The pad is covered in moss and small seedlings, but could easily be cleared off with a flat shovel, or used as it is to pitch a tent.  Berms on all sides gives shelter from the worst of the wind.  Unfortunately someone has dumped some garbage on the NW side of one of the berms, away from the pad.  Rumour has it some locals believe the ammunition bunker is *inside* the earthen berm, which clearly, it is not.



Garage

Garage at Domestic Site
In the spring of 2012 I had seen what I now know as the garage building at the Casey domestic site, where the barracks, mess hall, and other comforts were located.  I had not noticed the exhaust vents located in the floor, or noticed that the large L shaped hole in the floor has stairs leading down, and we presume was used to get under vehicles to perform maintenance.


Generator Building

Generator Bldg
Behind the garage, through what is now the forest, is another cement foundation with channels in the concrete for what I believe would have been cables or conduit.  It has been going back to nature seemingly at a greater rate than the garage, and Pierre Nadon had a good question; why?  Why is the generator building covered in shrubs, leaves, dirt, and moss - when the foundation of the garage is mostly bare and easily accessible and viewable for what it once was.  Well, I think there's a simple answer.  Someone, interested in the history of Casey like us, has very possibly cleaned off the cement pad/foundation of the garage while exploring.  The garage is also right beside the road that leads to the airstrip, and is easily visible - drawing more attention.  The generator building is not obvious, and not easily accessible.  I believe I'll need to shovel off the foliage and dirt the next time I'm there to try and uncover the original footprint of the generator building.  Without trees growing into the concrete, hopefully the concrete wont deteriorate at quite as fast a rate.

Control Tower

I had completely missed the control tower the last time I went to Casey, but Pierre was able to point it out to me.  The basement is flooded, and there is no way out since the stairs had fallen in many years ago.  It's a rather gruesome horror show of dead things; mainly mice and frogs. Luckily you can see the entire basement, and it's quite clear there isn't anything interesting down there anyway.



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