Have you ever seen the red-and-white water tower near the French River on the North Shore and wondered why it was there? A tiny file in the News Tribune attic might offer an answer.
The Air Force activated a Bomarc antiaircraft missile base in the Town of Duluth in 1961. It included 28 missile-launch facilities with concrete silos, missile service and assembly shops, an auto maintenance shop, a dormitory, a fire hall and supporting utility systems. It reportedly was staffed by 157 airmen. The Air Force spent $3.65 million on the base before closing it in 1972 when the Bomarc missile became obsolete. The missiles were shipped to a naval storage depot in Virginia, and Air Force officials at the time said they might be used as practice targets for other missiles or aircraft. The first photo below shows the last of 28 missiles being hauled away in August 1972. The second is a 1968 photo of a Bomarc missile in the ready position.
Stories say the Town of Duluth bought the base for $126,00 in 1976, intending to sell it to the Mathisen Tire Co. for $140,000. The trail ends there. The former base apparently has been used by various local businesses over the years, but the News Tribune has no record of which businesses used it or when, or who owns the property.
Does anyone know if that water tower marks the site of the former base, who owns the property and how it has been used over the years?