Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields:

Massachusetts: Northern Boston area

© 2002, © 2014 by Paul Freeman. Revised 6/22/14.

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Billerica-Wilmington Airport (added 10/26/13) - Muller Field / Riverside Airport / Revere Airport (revised 6/22/14)

Robbins Airport (revised 5/29/13) - Salem CGAS (revised 6/22/14)

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Billerica-Wilmington Airport, Billerica, MA

42.55 North / 71.21 West (Northwest of Boston, MA)

An August 1946 plan of the Billerica-Wilmington Airport from the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds (courtesy of Paul Chalifour).



No airfield was yet depicted at this location on a 1938 aerial photo,

nor listed among active airfields in the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock).



According to an article in the 10/20/10 Wilmington Town Crier (courtesy of Glenn Bergeron),

The airport was started in 1946 by a Woburn man, Russell Todman,

who built a small airstrip in a field on Hopkins Street, at the Wilmington - Billerica town line.

There was a hangar & a few J3 Piper Cubs.

Before long, auto dealer Fred Cain offered to go into a partnership with Todman.

Cain was then the 2nd-largest dealer for International Harvester trucks in New England.

With this equipment, Cain built Todman’s little airstrip into an airport.”



The article continued, “Cain then went to Texas, where he bought 3 AT-6 trainers & 2 twin-engine Cessnas.

He had them refurbished & flown to the little airport.

The airport had 2 hangars, Quonset hut buildings, next to Hopkins Street.

Cain brought in a flight instructor, John Hanson, and a mechanic, Larry Teed, who started a flight school.

Things went well until Todman allowed someone to take up a plane after only one lesson, after being told specifically not to do that.

The plane, an AT-6, only had one hour on it since being rebuilt.

The flight went well, except for the landing, when the plane hit a stone wall.

Frustrated with the lack of cooperation, Cain said he wanted to get out.

Hanson & Teed bought land in Tewksbury & established the Tew-Mac Airport.

The airport property was eventually sold for $45,000.”



Chuck Mason recalled, “It was opened in 1945 & I soloed there in October that year with Russ Todman as my instructor.

By the way, I set a record there that to my knowledge was never broken - I soloed in 4:20.

Johnny Hanson gave me my private check ride in April 1946.

I earned flying time at the airport as a line boy, 1 hour of solo time for 8 hours of work.

Frank Teed was the main mechanic there.

To earn my flying time I washed airplanes, did the line boy job, helped build the hangar

and did anything else around the airport to earn flying time which was $8/hour wet in a Piper J-3 Cub.

We flew on skis in the wintertime.”



The earliest depiction which has been located of Billerica-Wilmington Airport

was an August 1946 plan from the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds (courtesy of Paul Chalifour).

Notably it depicted a more elaborate planned airport than was ever built,

with a hangar on the north side of the single east/west runway, but also with 2 planned (but never-built) runways to the southwest.



Bob Bunton recalled, “Billerica/Wilmington, circa 1946, they had a bustling business with about 10 Cubs & many other types including UC-78s.

I got my first instruction there.”



John Collins recalled, “I remember seeing a sign on a hangar saying 'Authorized Cessna Service'.

I also remember an arrow on the roof of a veteran's organization building, near the Wilmington town green, pointing to this airport.

The building is no longer there [as of 2013].”



The 1950 USGS topo map depicted a clearing & 2 buildings at the location of Billerica-Wilmington Airport, but did not label the airport.



An undated aerial view looking northeast at Billerica-Wilmington Airport (courtesy of Paul Chalifour) showed the field having 2 arched-roof hangars,

a dozen T-hangars, and several light planes on the side of an unpaved runway.

Paul Chalifour observed, “This photo shows it probably in full operation so early 1950s I'm guessing.”



An undated (circa early 1950s?) photo of Billerica-Wilmingon Airport,

showing a biplane sans wings, a Cessna T-50, and a Fairchild PT-26.



According to Paul Chalifour, “My father says the airport was defunct as a business by the late 1950s

but remembers the strip still being used by local pilots for touch & go's in the 1960s.”



Billerica-Wilmington Airport was evidently closed by 1963,

as a 4/28/63 USGS aerial photo showed the field still remaining intact, but seemingly abandoned.

The Aerodromes table on the chart described Robbins as a private field having a single 1,300' bituminous runway,

with the crosswind runway evidently having been abandoned.



According to Paul Chalifour, “My first recollection is from 1968-69. I lived about a mile away & often drove by it with my parents.

I remember hiking through the woods from my childhood home about a mile or so away to play in the abandoned hangars.

As I recall they were corrugated Quonset-type buildings with checkerboard patterns on the roofs

(all that is left are partial pieces of their slab foundations).

There was also a nightclub adjacent called the 'Skyport Lounge'.”



A 1971 aerial view showed that the hangars still remained standing, and the runway remained intact, though deteriorated.



A 1978 aerial view showed that the hangars had been removed at some point between 1971-78,

but their foundations remained recognizable.

The area of the runway remained clear.



A 1995 aerial view showed that a large industrial building had been constructed over the site of the hangars.

The majority of the runway area remained clear, but was no longer recognizable as such.



A 2000 street map annotated to show the location of the Billerica-Wilmington Airport runway (courtesy of Robert Atkinson).



A 6/18/10 aerial photo showed no trace remaining of Billerica-Wilmington Airport.



A 2000 photo by John Collins of the site of Billerica-Wilmington Airport.



Paul Chalifour reported in 2013, “The hangars, house (office), runway, and plane shelters are all gone.

However, the large farmhouse above the hangars still stands. It's on the corner of Dorchester Street & Alexander Road.

In the area of the single-plane shelters now stand 2 multi-bay single story industrial buildings.”



The site of Billerica-Wilgmington Airport is located northeast of the intersection of Alexander Street & Cessna Road, appropriately enough.

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Robbins Airport, Danvers, MA

42.56 North / 70.96 West (Northeast of Boston, MA)

A 12/1/55 USGS aerial photo of Robbins Airport.



This private airfield was evidently established at some point between 1949-55,

as it was not yet depicted at all on a 1938 aerial photo, the 1945 Boston Sectional Chart (courtesy of John Voss),

or the 1949 USGS topo map.



The earliest depiction which has been located of Robbins Airport was a 12/1/55 USGS aerial view.

It depicted a single very short unpaved northwest/southeast runway, with some buildings on the southeast side.



The 1956 USGS topo map depicted Robbins Airport as having a single northwest/southeast runway with several buildings, but did not label the airport.



According to John Ford of Les Vants Aerial Photos, “I know it was operational in the late 1950s.”

However, it was not yet depicted at all on the June 1959 Boston Local Aeronautical Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).



The earliest official reference to Robbins Airport which has been located was in the 1962 AOPA Airport Directory.

It described Robbins as a private field, operated by Earle Robbins,

having a 1,400' paved Runway 13/31 & a 1,500' sod Runway 9/27.



Robbins was described in the same manner in the 1963 AOPA Airport Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



The earliest aeronautical chart depiction of Robbins Airport which has been located

was on the March 1963 Boston Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

The Aerodromes table on the chart described Robbins as a private field having a single 1,300' bituminous runway,

with the crosswind runway evidently having been abandoned.



David Savage recalled, “I did a little flying out of Robbins Field.

It was a private field & before Earle Robbins would let you fly into it, you had to drive in & get checked out by him or one of his instructors.

He threatened to have anyone arrested for trespassing if they did not follow his rules.

It was a short runway with a lot of obstacles, but by pilots following his rules, they had an excellent safety record.”



Al Palladino recalled that Robbins was “owned & operated by Earl Robbins

who was also the only flight instructor & also owned an adjoining lumber yard.

His strip was very small & demanding however Earl was a great instructor.”



The Aerodromes table on the 1965 Boston Sectional Chart (courtesy of John Voss)

described Robbins as a private field with a single 1,461' bituminous runway.



The status of Robbins Airport may have changed to a public-use airfield at some point between 1963-67,

as the 1967 AOPA Airport Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy) gave no indication of the field being private.

The field had a single 1,500' bituminous-concrete Runway 10/28.

The operator was listed as Robbins Air Taxi Service,

and the field was listed as offering fuel, minor repairs, hangars, tie-downs, and charter.



A 1968 photo (courtesy of Scott Traill) of his father (Dusty Traill)

in a single-seat Mooney Mite (“Thumper 1”) on the runway at Robbins.



A 1969 aerial view showed that Robbins had a single east/west paved runway.

The former northeast/southwest runway was still visible, but appeared to be abandoned.

Several hangars were on the south side, along with 9 light aircraft.



Scott Traill recalled, “My Dad [Dusty Traill] flew out of Robbins Airfield on a regular basis during the 1960s & early 1970s.

Mostly he flew a Tripacer with a (new at the time) folding computerized night-sign

that was towed behind the plane over Fenway in Boston & surrounding areas at night.

It was a very busy little airport at the time & I will always remember going for plane rides as a child from there.”



The 1970 USGS topo map depicted Robbins as having a single east/west paved runway, labeled simply as “Landing Strip”.

The former northwest/southeast runway on the opposite side of the railroad tracks was depicted as having become a street.



The status of Robbins Airport evidently changed back to a private field at some point between 1967-71,

as that is how it was depicted on the January 1971 NY Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



A 1971 aerial view depicted Robbins Airport as having a single paved east/west runway.

A total of 6 hangars were located along the south side of the field,

and 2 light aircraft were visible parked outside.



A 1972 aerial view looking southwest at Robbins Airport by John Barnes (courtesy of Brian Barnes).

The airport office was visible at left, with another 5 hangar buildings on the south side of the runway.

A single aircraft was visible parked outside.

John recalled, “I learned to fly at Robbins Airport that year.”



Two 1972 photos of the Robbins Airport ramp & office by John Barnes (courtesy of Brian Barnes),

showing 3 Pipers parked on outside.



Rand Peck recalled, “I instructed at the Beverly Airport from 1972-74

and remember Robbins Airport, located just off the end of our westbound runway.

I never landed there but remember seeing airplanes parked at the field as we flew over

and do remember an occasional arrival & departure down there too.

Beverly of course, was an uncontrolled field at that time, so little conflict existed.”



Robbins Airport was no longer depicted at all on the 1977 USGS topo map.



According to John Ford of Les Vants Aerial Photos, Robbins Airport “closed around 1978.”



A 1978 aerial photo showed Robbins Airport appearing still largely intact,

but no aircraft were visible on the field, and the western-most hangar had been replaced by a large building (presumably not airport-related).



However, Robbins was still listed as an active airfield

in the 1982 AOPA Airports USA Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy),

although it was noted to be “Private. Closed to public.”

It was described as having a single 1,500' asphalt Runway 10/28.



Robbins Airport was evidently closed at some point between 1982-96,

as the 1996 USGS aerial photo showed that the middle of the paved runway had been bisected by the parking lot of a large building

which had been constructed on the south side of the former airport property.

The remainder of the length of the runway was otherwise intact.

Five hangars had been removed at some point between 1971-96,

leaving only a single hangar on the southeast side of the field.



A July 1999 aerial photo by John Ford of Les Vants Aerial Photos

looking west at the site of Robbins Airport, with the remains of the former paved runway still intact.

A single hangar still remained standing, at the bottom-left of the photo.



An April 2005 aerial photo by John Ford of Les Vants Aerial Photos looking west at the site of Robbins Airport.

By comparing with the 1999 aerial photo, it can be seen that townhouse development

had covered the eastern end of the former runway at some point between 1999-2005.

The remains of the western half of the former runway were still visible at the top of the photo.



The site of Robbins Airport is located south of the intersection of Collins Street & Holten Street.

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Muller Field / Riverside Airport / Revere Airport, Revere, MA

42.43 North / 71.02 West (North of Logan Airport, MA)

An advertisement for Old Colony Airways Corporation at Muller Field

from the 4/23/28 issue of Aviation Magazine (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



This former general aviation airport & seaplane base was located along the southwestern bank of the Pines River.

 

The date of construction of Muller Field is unknown.

The earliest reference to Mueller Field which has been located

was an advertisement for Old Colony Airways Corporation at Muller Field

from the 4/23/28 issue of Aviation Magazine (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



The earliest depiction of Mueller Field which has been located

was on the 1929 Rand-McNally Air Trails Map of Massachusetts (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

It described Muller Field as a commercial field operated by the Old Colony Airways Corporation.

It was said to consist of a 1,500' x 1,000' field.



The July 1931 Airports & Landing Fields in New England (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

described Muller Field as a private airfield,

consisting of a 290 acre sod field.

It was said to have 2 runways (2,500' northeast/southwest & 1,500' east/west) and 3 hangars.

The commercial operators were listed as Beacon Airways & A.T. Zwink,

and the owner was listed as William Muller.



Rich Cardinale recalled, “My family literally lived across the street

since my grandfather bought land there in 1909.

My father remembers it as a young boy as being a busy little place.”



The Airport Directory Company's 1933 Airport Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

described Muller as a commercial field,

consisting of a 200 acre sod field.

It was said to have 2 runways (2,500' northwest/southeast & 1,500' northeast/southwest).

A hangar was said to be marked with “Muller Field”.



In the early 1930s, the Gee Bee Sporter Model B had a restricted license,

and was restricted to exhibition flights at Muller Field, Revere.

 

A biography of Julius Goldman said that he took his first flight at Muller Field in the early 1930s.



Muller Field was listed among active airfields in the 1934 Commerce Department Airfield Directory (according to Chris Kennedy).



The 1935 Regional Aeronautical Chart (courtesy of Scott O'Donnell)

depicted Muller Field as a commercial or municipal airport.



The Airport Directory Company's 1937 Airport Directory (courtesy of Bob Rambo)

described Muller Field as a commercial airfield,

consisting of a 200 acre sod field.

It was said to have 2 runways in an L-shape,

measuring 2,500' northwest/southeast & 1,500' northeast/southwest.

A hangar was said to be marked with “Muller Field”.



The 1937 “Progress Report of the Committee For Aeronautics of the Commonwealth of MA” (courtesy of Jonathan Westerling)

depicted Revere Airport as an irregularly-shaped field within which the longest landing distance was 1,600' north/south.

Three hangars & an office building were depicted on the southwest side of the field.



Muller Field was evidently renamed “Riverside” at some point between 1937-38,

as that is how it was listed in The Airport Directory Company's 1938 Airport Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

An aerial view looking northwest at the field depicted it as having a row of hangars along the southwest side.

Strangely, the field was described as much smaller than only the year before – only 60 acres in size.

It was said to have 2 runways, measuring 2,000' northwest/southeast & 1,200' northeast/southwest.

A hangar was said to be marked with “Revere”.



David Rosen recalled, “As a youngster in the 1930s & 1940s I remember watching small planes land & take off at the Revere Airport.”



Riverside Airport was described in The Airport Directory Company's 1941 Airport Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

as a commercial field, consisting of an irregularly-shaped 60 acre sod property.

However, the number of runways had increased to three – with the longest being a 2,000' north/south strip.

A hangar was said to be marked with “Revere”.



The May 1941 Boston Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted Riverside as a commercial/municipal field.



Carole McCarthy reported, “My father received his Private Pilot License from the Bayside Flying Service Inc. which operated out of Muller Airport in 1941.”



Inexplicably, the airport may have reverted to its original name by 1942,

as it was once again depicted as “Muller” on the November 1942 & May 1943 Boston Sectional Charts (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



Muller Airport was evidently closed at some point between 1943-44,

as it was not depicted at all on the November 1944, June 1945,

or December 1945 Boston Sectional Charts (according to Chris Kennedy),

nor depicted on the 1946 USGS topo map.

It is possible that the airfield may have been temporarily closed during WW2

(as was the case at many other small civilian airports, due to wartime security concerns).



According to David Rosen, “During WWII the airport became a military installation with test runs for small tracked military vehicles.”



In 1946 Julius Goldman purchased Muller Field & opened Revere Airways,

which he operated as President, general manager and chief pilot from 1946-61.



The former Muller Field had evidently been renamed Revere Airport after being purchased by the owner of Revere Airways,

as the 1946 USGS topo map labeled the field as "Revere Airport".

It depicted Revere Airport as having 3 runways (with the longest being 3,000'), with 5 hangars along the southwest side.

The pond northwest of the runways was labeled as a "Seaplane Basin".



According to David Rosen, “The airport reopened after the war.

There was a time in the late 1940s, in the summer, when an advertising blimp anchored there,

in addition to the regular lineup of Piper Cubs, Aeroncas, Cessnas etc.”



The 1950 USGS topo map depicted Revere Airport in the same fashion as the 1946 topo map.

 

Of Revere Airport, Sal Gesamondo recalled,

"It is the place I took my first airplane ride in a Piper Tri-Pacer for $2.50."



Wayne Irwin recalled, "When I was a kid & living in the Greater Boston area,

my father used to take my brother & I to a small airport in Revere.

I remember quite clearly being parked next to it & watching small aircraft take off & land.

This would have been in the late 1940s & early 1950s."



A 1950 advertisement for Revere Airport featured an undated aerial photo highlighting 3 paved runways.



The 1950 USAF Pilot's Handbook (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted Revere as having an airport & adjacent seaplane base.



A 1953 photo of Elizabeth Haynes upon “Firebird”, her PT-23 at Revere Airport.

Elizabeth recalled, “I bought a war surplus Fairchild PT-23, NC 40014, (built by the St. Louis Boxcar Co.) for $500 shortly after the war,

and flew it from Bailey's Crossroads Airport [VA] to Revere Field, north of Boston.

I was a lieutenant in the Air Force at the time & was attending graduate school in meteorology.

I earned my private [pilot's] license there in 1953.

Flying home from Revere to Hybla Valley [VA], I could beat Eastern Airlines in DC-3s changing planes at LaGuardia.”



A 12/1/55 USGS aerial photo showed Revere Airport to have 3 runways, several hangars with checkerboard roofs on the southwest side,

and a dozen single-engine aircraft visible parked outside.



The 1956 USGS topo map still depicted Revere Airport, but between 1950-56 a new highway interchange had been built on the northwest side of the airport,

perilously close to the runways.



The 1960 Jeppesen Airway Manual (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)

depicted Revere Airport as having two paved runways (2,415' Runway 13/31 & 1,740' Runway 1/19)

as well as a third (abandoned) runway.

Taxiways led to a ramp on the southwest side of the field with several small hangars.



In 1961, Revere Airways moved from Revere Airport to Beverly Airport.



Revere Airport, as depicted on the November 1961 Boston Local Aeronautical Chart (courtesy of Mike Keefe).



By 1962, the runways had shrunken both in number & length.

The 1962 AOPA Airport Directory described Revere as having two bituminous runways:

2,400' Runway 13/31 & 1,750' Runway 1/19.

The operator was listed as Revere Airways Inc.

The Revere Seaplane Base was described as having a 3,300' water landing lane 13/31,

but the remarks said "Emergency use only."



Revere Airport was apparently closed in 1962,

as it was not depicted at all on the December 1962 Boston Local Aeronautical Chart (courtesy of Mike Keefe).



According to David Rosen, an arch-roof hangar on the airport's southwestern end

was converted into an appliance retail store when the airport finally closed down.”



A 1969 aerial photo showed that the site of Revere Airport had been redeveloped as the Northgate Shopping Center.



As seen in a circa 2001 aerial view of the site, not a trace appeared to remain of the former airport.



A circa 2006 aerial view looking east at an former hangar which remains standing on the southwestern portion of the former airport.



David Rosen reported in 2009 that the former hangar on the southwestern portion of the former airport was still standing,

as a Sozio furniture store.



The site of Revere Airport is located northwest of the intersection of Cutler Highway & Broadway.

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Salem Coast Guard Air Station, Salem, MA

42.53 North / 70.87 West (Northeast of Boston, MA)

The Salem Seaplane Anchorage, as depicted on the 1929 Rand-McNally Air Trails Map of Massachusetts (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



The earliest depiction of a seaplane facility in Salem which has been located

was on the 1929 Rand-McNally Air Trails Map of Massachusetts (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).

It listed the facility as the Salem "Seaplane Anchorage", but did not describe the operator of the facility or any other details.



In 1935 the Coast Guard established a seaplane facility in Salem, to replace a smaller installation in Gloucester.

The base was located on a peninsula, Salem Neck, which juts out into Salem Harbor.

Salem boasted what were at the time state of the art communications & modern repair facilities,

being designed to handle the larger flying boats of the time.

Its aviation facilities consisted of a single hangar, a paved 250' square parking apron,

and two seaplane ramps leading down into the waters of Salem Harbor.



CGAS Salem performed a total of 26 medevac missions during its first year of operation,

according to an article in the June 2004 issue of Naval Aviation News (courtesy of John Voss).



The earliest photo which has been located of CGAS Salem was a 1937 photo of a General PJ-1 flying boat inside the hangar.



A circa 1938 photo looking northwest at Coast Guard Air Station Salem, showing a Curtiss SOC-4 Seagull on the ramp & a Fokker-General Aviation PJ-1 in the hangar.



An 11/20/38 USGS aerial photo showed Salem as having a hangar & seaplane ramp.

One or possibly two aircraft were visible on the ramp.



In 1941 air crews from Salem began to fly neutrality patrols along the coast.

The years of the Second World War saw the air station roster increase to 37 aircraft,

making it the second largest Coast Guard station on the east coast.

 

A 1944 photo of an OS2U3 loaded with depth charges preparing to launch from CGAS Salem.

 

In October 1944, Air Station Salem was officially designated

as the first US Air-Sea Rescue service on the eastern seaboard.

 

Salem CGAS, as depicted on the November 1944 Boston Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).



Salem CGAS was not yet depicted on the 1945 USGS topo map.

 

A 1945 aerial view looking north at CGAS Salem,

with several aircraft on the ramp, and one flying by at the bottom of the photo.



A 1945 photo of two PBM flying boats on the ramp at CGAS Salem.

 

An undated view of a Grumman Goose amphibian flying boat on the ramp at Salem CGAS.

 

An undated view of a PBM flying boat on a snowy ramp at Salem.

 

After the war the Coast Guard found itself with a varied inventory

of helicopters, multi-engined patrol planes, and flying boats.

 

A 1947 photo of Ltjg. John Weber

at the instructor station of a Link Trainer (an early flight simulator) at CGAS Salem.



A circa 1952 demonstration of a Sikorsky HNS-1 helicopter at CGAS Salem.



A 1955 aerial view showed one Coast Guard flying boat on the water just off Salem's ramp,

and at least one other flying boat on the apron.



The last photo which is available showing CGAS Salem in operation was a 1955 aerial view looking northwest,

showing 2 helicopters & 2 flying boats on the ramp.



The 1956 USGS topo map depicted “U.S. Coast Guard Air Station”.



 

CGAS Salem, as depicted on the 1968 Boston Sectional Chart (courtesy of Mike Keefe).

 

The last photo which has been located showing CGAS still in operation was a 1969 aerial view,

which showed 2 flying boats on the ramp.



With no runways to handle land-plane operations at Salem,

the Coast Guard eventually began to search for a replacement facility for Massachusetts area flight operations.

Salem CGAS was closed in 1970,

and Coast Guard operations were moved to Otis Field.



A 1971 aerial view of Salem, only a year after it was closed.

The ramp had 2 helipad circles painted on it at some point between 1969-71.



The historic CGAS Salem property was turned over to the City of Salem in 1972,

but the facilities of the former Coast Guard Air Station were allowed to slowly deteriorate.

 

In the 1990s a proposal was brought forth to tear down the hangar & replace it with a parking lot,

but this was not carried out.

 

 

As of a 2000 aerial view, the seaplane facilities appear to have remained intact.



As of 2003, the property of the former Salem CGAS is reused as the Winter Island Marine Park.

 

According to an article in the June 2004 issue of Naval Aviation News (courtesy of John Voss),

as of 2004 the original hangar, barracks, dining facility, radio shack,

and motor pool building remained standing, but in poor condition.



An organization called Historic Salem Inc. is attempting to ensure that the property will be preserved.



A circa 2005 aerial view looking north at the former Salem Headquarters building, hangar, and ramp.



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