Cape Meares WWII Radar Site
Cape Meares WWII Radar Site (1943-1944) - A World War II U.S. Army Radar Site established in 1943. Used to provide early warning of enemy aircraft approaching the Oregon Coast. Located on Cape Meares near Oceanside in Tillamook County, Oregon. Deactivated in 1944. Also known as Station B-25.
This radar site was established in 1943 during World War II as a part of a chain of some 65 radar stations along the West Coast of the United States and Canada. These secret radar sites were built to provide early warning and interception of approaching enemy aircraft and ships but also served to assist friendly aircraft that were lost or had in-flight emergencies. This radar network was in addition to a network of search and fire control radars established at each of the West Coast harbor defenses.
This chain of West Coast radar stations was established in response to the June 1942 Japanese invasion and capture of the U.S. Aleutian Islands of Attu and Kiska. The islands were both recaptured by U.S. forces and declared secured by 24 Aug 1943. The radar chain was constructed in late 1942 and early 1943 while the Japanese still had control of the islands and had conducted air raids on the U.S. bases at Dutch Harbor. The threat of further air attacks on the West Coast appeared real as did a possible Japanese invasion of the Pacific Northwest.
Two types of Air Warning Service (AWS) radar stations were built, long-range search radars (200~ mile range) and short-range Ground Control Intercept (GCI) radars (50~ mile range). The search radars would pick up and track possible enemy aircraft while the GCI radars would guide U.S. interceptor aircraft to these targets. The long-range search radar sites typically used the SCR-270 series radars while the short-range Search/GCI sites typically used the SCR-588 series radars.
The Cape Meares WWII Radar Site was established as a Search radar site with a SCR-270-B radar set under the command of the Portland Air Defense Wing. While the SCR-270 was a mobile radar set it was often placed in fixed sites. The site was operational from sometime in 1943 to mid-1944 and then placed in standby status with the equipment removed. Manning during the operational period was typically 45 to 50 men operating as a detachment of the headquarters at Portland International Airport (note: the detachment numbers and unit designation changed several times while the site was active).
The operations building is above ground but was built into the side of a hill as protection and to camouflage its functionality. The camouflage included pre-existing trees that overhung the building and were left in place to prevent the antenna from casting a recognizable shadow and to hide the generator and equipment vents. The operations building itself was 80' by 21' with two protected entrances and 12" thick concrete outer walls. Four internal rooms provided an operations room for the shift workers, a duty officer's room, an equipment room for the radar and a generator room with two generators.
There would have been a cantonment area associated with the radar operations area but no information about the cantonment area could be found. There is a small community right below the radar site on a private road called "Radar Road" that approximates the layout of other radar site cantonment areas and this could be the area that housed the barracks, mess hall, and other support facilities.
Deactivated in 1944. The SCR-270-B Radar equipment was later declared obsolete by AG letter 17 Jan 1946. Tower and equipment to be disposed of while the buildings were retained.
Now a part of the Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge. Located on the east side of Cape Meares Loop Road at Short Beach, just north of town. The concrete shell of the operations building minus the roof still exists as do the antenna pads. The operations building is overgrown and access to the interior rooms is hampered by debris and trees. The antenna piers are located on the north side of the operations building.
Remarkably some of the original wood trim such as door and window frames still exist, with some in reasonably good shape. The twin air intake vents for the generators still have the complete wood frames in place for the mesh screens that kept debris, leaves, and animals out of the building. With a telephoto lens, you can still see the remaining edges of those mesh screens, now some 75 years old.
To access this radar site, park at the Short Beach access point on Cape Meares Loop road and walk up the west side of the road until you see a steep path leading up the embankment into the woods. From this point, you should be able to look up into the woods and spot the twin generator intake vent tower. Head up the path toward the vents, it is fairly steep so watch your step.
Visited: 8 Sep 2018