May 09, 2015

Reviewing the Casey Emergency Airstrip domestic site 1964 air photo

Originally I posted this blog entry armed only with an air photo, what I saw with my own eyes while I was there, and some common sense based on what I've seen at other Canadian Forces bases and stations.  Just recently I met the acquaintance of Dave St-Laurent, who had made the trek to the National Archives and checked out the Casey file.  Based on the Site Plan for the proposed expansion for the Casey Emergency Airstrip, which would have made it a full fledged "Station", I can now definitively state what the uses were of the buildings in the 1964 air photo from the National Air Photo Library below.

The full resolution TIFF image can be downloaded here (over 100Mb) so you can draw your own conclusions.

Casey Domestic Site - Garage, Boiler, Generator, other

In the above image you can see (bottom right) the 12 bay garage which is visible from the East-West road (the road still exists today).  The SW/NE road at the left of the picture is overgrown and is not realistically passable. You'll notice the top left square building has a smoke stack, and a big pipe, suspended in the air and held up with telephone-poles.  That is the steam/heating plant fueled with diesel from the tanks off the right side of the picture.  That pipe network is the same as you'd see at any Pinetree Line site with a central heating plant.  You'll notice the top right building has at least 3 smoke stacks along the peak of the roof, and no heat/hot-water going to it - it is the diesel powered generator building, and makes its own heat!  The bottom leftmost building was Ration stores, and the middle building between it and the garage was just general storage.

Casey Emergency Airstrip - Mess Hall and other unknown buildings
The cross-shaped building is the mess hall, built to hold 300 people.  The leftmost long building was the headquarters of the base.  The top left building was an 8 bed hospital.  There are transformers on telephone polls at the bottom right of the picture, and in all of the pictures you can see telephone poles which are actually carrying power.

Casey Emergency Airstrip - Barracks
These are typical 1950s era barracks.  Each is connected to the heat pipes, as they wouldn't have their own furnaces. The top right barracks would have been for officers.  The middle section of all of them would have housed common facilities (showers, bathrooms), and each barracks is speculated to have a capacity of ~160 men.

Casey Emergency Airstrip - Diesel storage, and unknown bldg
The berms from these Diesel storage tanks are still there, but the tanks are long gone. I believe I walked over or right past where that little white building was, but I didn't see it at all.  On the site plan it is labelled "pumphouse".  I assume that's to pump the Diesel?  It doesn't seem to have any heat going to it, which is interesting; as a machinery-filled building I guess that makes sense.

Main supply pumphouse

This is labelled the "main supply pumphouse" on the site plan; the main water supply to be precise.  It is heated, clearly so the water wouldn't freeze.  It is built on a reservoir and pumps uphill to another fresh water holding tank.  The water is drawn from a well across the river on the south shore.  I didn't know what that well building was (not pictured), but so far haven't been able to get to it due to the bridge leading to it being out.

CE Building
This is labelled as the CE Building.  Unfortunately I don't know what that is, but maybe it's the Communications and Electronics building?  You'll notice it doesn't have steam pipes leading to it, so it must be making it's own heat.

Intersection to Radio Bldg
Above is the mystery intersection.  I've stood in the middle of this road, and tried to find the North (up) facing road.  I cannot.  Others with GPSes in hand have tried to find that road.  They failed too. How the N/S road up the hill to the radio site has vanished so thoroughly I have no idea.  Along the West side of that road there were telephone polls, which might help in the road's identification.  I can see on the Google and Bing satellite imagery that the road does have different vegetation on it, eventually, but it seems difficult to find the entrance to!

Casey Emergency Airstrip - VHF/UHF/ADF Bldg
This is the "gold" at the top of the hill.  Nobody has seen this building in decades.  Locals can't even find it.  It is the VHF/UHF/ADF building. This is still a major priority of mine for the next trip. 
As best as I can figure the building is at (47.94184, -74.10999).  there were also separate RX and TX buildings for UHF and VHF Northeast of the domestic site.

View Larger Map  |  Get Directions  |  View Bird's Eye

The above is what the site looks like now; overgrown.  Thankfully, the soil isn't very fertile, is mainly sand, and not a lot of serious vegetation has grown up in the area.  It could probably be cleared up and the foundations exposed with a few days of clearing operations and a team of people who are willing to get dirty.

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