Continental Divide Air Force Station

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Continental Divide Air Force Station (1951-1961) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1951 as Gonzales Air Force Station near Thoreau, McKinley County, New Mexico. Initially assigned an ID of LP-7. Renamed Continental Divide Air Force Station on 1 Dec 1953 and assigned a Permanent ID of P-7. Abandoned in 1961.

History of Continental Divide Air Force Station

Established in 1951 and became operational in 1951 as Gonzales Air Force Station manned by the 769th AC&W Squadron. The station initially had both a Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) and early warning mission. The early warning mission involved tracking and identifying all aircraft entering their airspace while the GCI mission involved guiding Air Force interceptors to any identified enemy aircraft. Controllers at the station vectored fighter aircraft at the correct course and speed to intercept enemy aircraft using voice commands via ground-to-air radio.

Initial equipment included the FPS-3 search radar and an FPS-5. An FPS-4 height-finder radar was installed in 1955 and a year later upgraded to an FPS-6.

Physical Plant

The physical plant of the site was divided into an upper main site, a lower cantonment area, a housing area and a radio site. The main site housed the operations buildings, the radar towers, and the backup generators. The cantonment area housed the enlisted barracks, the bachelor officer's quarters, the orderly room, the dining hall, the motor pool and other support buildings. Apart from the main site was a small 27 unit housing area for critical married personnel. Separate Ground to Air Transmitter/Receiver (GATR) radio sites housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts.

Continental Divide AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems
Unit Designations
  • 769th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1951-1961)
769th Assignments
  • 1 Jan 1951 assigned at Gonzales, NM, as the 540th AC&W Group.
  • 1 May 1951 transferred to 34th Air Division.
  • 1 Dec 1953 site redesignated to Continental Divide AFS, NM.
  • 1 Jan 1960 transferred to Albuquerque ADS.
  • 15 Sep 1960 transferred to Oklahoma City ADS.
  • 1 Jul 1961 discontinued.

Continental Divide Air Force Station Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1951 195? Major Jamar, Wallace J. N/A
195? 1953 Lt. Colonel Sevens, Robert J. N/A
1953 1955 Major Reedy, Walton B. N/A
1955 1958 Major Price, Edward C. N/A
1958 19?? Major Sutin, Nathan N/A
Dates are formatted in yyyy-mm-dd to sort correctly.
The Cullum Number is the graduation order from the United States Military Academy by year and class rank and links to a page for the officer on the website version of the Cullum Register. Listings without a Cullum Number indicate that the person was not a graduate of the United States Military Academy.

Current Status

Abandoned site near the town of Thoreau in McKinley County, New Mexico. Nearly all traces of the site have been removed and the site has been restored to a natural condition but the roads remain.

Location: Near the town of Thoreau in McKinley County, New Mexico.

Maps & Images

Lat: 35.38917 Long: -108.35333

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 7,651'

See Also:


  • Cornett, Lloyd H. & Johnson, Mildred W., A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization (1946-1980), Office of History ADC, Peterson AFB, Colorado, 31 Dec 1980, 179 pages, Pdf, page 101.
  • Winkler, David F., Searching the Skies: the Legacy of the United States Cold War Defense Radar Program, USAF Hq Air Combat Command, 1997, 192 pages, Pdf, page 139.
  • USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 2089738


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