The Dugway proving grounds: Just a military base or is there more?


     My wife and I love adventures.  We find ourselves most weekends just pointing to an area that is 1-3 hrs. away, some quick trip that we can do in a nice full day.  Sometimes it’s a bust and doesn’t really live up to the hype that is surrounding the area, and then other times…sometimes…We hit pay dirt.  This is what happened with the Dugway proving grounds adventure.  So let’s start this story at its basics.  What it actually is, according to history and what you can find online if you just stumble upon the generic “ok Google” of what the Intra web gives you.   Built in 1942, the DPG was (and still somewhat is), an Army facility that was designed to test biological and chemical weaponry.  Located roughly 80 miles out of Salt Lake, this facility literally starts in the middle of what was designed to be a main highway, which we will cover later.  So the idea of this Base came into being from another Army depot located in Maryland.  Many higher ups during this time thought we needed more of a remote area to test biological/chemical weapons that were currently being tested at the Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland.  Surveys were done, and it was decided to build the DPG in the barren Utah desert.  Right from the beginning, it was built under close secrecy, which makes sense at the time, if you look at what our country was going through.  The spying involved country to country, the War, and alliances that we had that were built on shaky ground from the beginning.  The Base went up quickly and within six months, testing began on numerous weaponry.  Flamethrowers, chemical warfare, chemical antidotes, biological warfare... the list goes on and on.  There were even makeshift German and Japanese mock villages built, to test firebombing of homes and towns to try and gain an edge to the War.  In 1943, DPG established a radar tracking area that was located at a very isolated and remote area on the Base.  Soon after the war, the DPG was mothballed and left with very few personal, and essentially became an abandoned Military installation.  During the Korean conflict, the DPG was reactivated and in 1954 became a permanent Department of the Army installation.  So now let’s cover a few small "issues"  that happened,  for example, the “Sheep Kill” incident.

     In 1968, over 6,000 sheep were either killed, or hurt to the point that Vet’s had to come out to the ranch to euthanize them. Local farmers were stunned, as well as taking a major loss as far as profit in selling the sheep or there wool.   All the local ranchers got together, and of course, pointed in the direction of DPG.  The Army denied any involvement and did not admit that there may have been, or could have been, an incident or accident from the Base that might have caused all these deaths. But with that being said, its odd that even though they denied it, money was paid to the Ranchers for compensation, although the money given was not enough to make up for their loss.  This incident also coincides with all the testing that was reportedly being done.   At least 1,100 chemical tests were performed, including close to 500,000 lb. of nerve agent that was dispersed doing open air tests, over 300 open air tests of biological weapons, over 70 dirty bomb tests, the list goes on and on.  This somewhat makes sense (albeit nuts), but if you look at this era, it coincided with the Vietnam conflict.  The U.S. General Accounting Office released a report in 1994, that stated,  "Between 1951 and 1974, Hundreds, if not thousands of tests were performed at Dugway to include open air tests using bacteria and viruses that cause disease in Humans and animals”.  another "smallish" incident was In 2011, when  the DPG was put on lockdown.  Over 1,400 workers/residents of Dugway were not allowed to come or go for almost 24 hours.  The cause of the lockdown was due to a missing vial of VX nerve agent.  It was found, and the Lockdown was lifted.  Also In 2015, it was revealed that DPG had “inadvertently” shipped live Anthrax bacillus to locations around the country. 

   So there is some backstory to Dugway proving grounds, and what it was originally designed for. Now let’s cover the other side of this coin, along with our field trip that we took out to Dugway.  It started when I stumbled across a story that was written in a Utah weekly magazine that peaked my interest. After doing some quick research, and gathering up my remote microphone and camera, my wife and I decided to make an adventure out to DPG to see what we could see.  We passed through the town of Tooele, where we made a couple of side excursions that included a haunted hospital turned into a Haunted house, and a cemetery that is reported to be the most haunted cemetery in the state of Utah.  Strange, but not strange enough for my taste.  So we continued through rush valley, and began our trip up through Fisher pass.  So to cover the highway that was mentioned earlier. Fisher pass, formerly known as Johnson pass, was created in 1920 with the help and donation of Carl G Fisher.  This pass was known as part of the Lincoln highway or route 199, and this section of road at one time connected all the way to the Ocean.  However,  as it comes off the pass and travels roughly 8 miles through the desert, it  abruptly ends at the entrance of DPG.  I will admit, the drive through Tooele, and up to the summit of Fisher pass, roughly 8,500 ft. in elevation, is beautiful.  Some of the prettiest country I have seen since moving to Utah.  My wife and I discussed the possibility of camping at a Campground that is near the bottom of the pass.  Very surreal, and once you reach the summit, you get a fantastic birds eye view of the Onaqui Mountains and all that surrounds you.  However, this isn't the reason for this article.   Once you leave the peak of the pass and continue the downward descent back into the desert, it becomes odd and eerie, to say the least. Making our way down the canyon, we encountered charred trees, burnt down buildings and a few half standing brick walls that had appeared there was a fire that ravaged the area not too long ago. A bird came almost straight through my windshield, which needless to say, scared the shit out of both my wife and I, and didn’t much help our already frazzled yet curious nerves.  As we dropped out of the mountains, the road straightened and stretched for what seemed like miles with no view necessarily to have other than flat, sagebrush country.  There was a small community called Terra that sits at the foot of the pass, which consists of a handmade sign announcing the pride of where you stumbled into,  but not much more.   I have been following the signs, and watching the trip odometer, just roughly calculating how far we were into the journey.  According to my estimate, we should have only been about 6-10 miles away from the area, but according to the wife’s GPS mapping, it said we were still and hour and half away.  After about 6 miles, we stumbled on the only structure that we could see come into the view, which go figure, was a Church of Latter day Saints.  With a fence completely around it, and no parking to speak of, it stood bizarrely in a place that we felt was a waste, but as we kept driving another 1000 yards, the main gate to the Dugway proving ground appeared like a mirage in front of us.  Which was ironic, because we were driving a mirage.

     The other alternate history to DPG is this.  It is said to be the new area 51.  We know that there was radar telemetry built long ago, and we also know that even though the Army owns the facilities, there is a small portion that is owned and operated by the Airforce, specifically the Aeronautics portion of the Airforce.  In 2004, there was extensive work done to DPG, and security was stepped up immensely.   There have been reports from numerous people that they see Jets disappear into thin air, and at night you can see Orbs of different colors floating above the Base in different patterns.  There have also been reports of missing persons, where the car was found, but no sign of the person themselves.  There are theories from various experts in ufology, which believe the government is in partnership with Lockheed martin, to reverse engineer Alien technology that has been found throughout the years.  There are other strange little  pieces to the puzzle that don't  fit.  For example,  there is a runway built on DPG that is three times the length of a normal runway, the same length needed to land the Space shuttle.  There are circle type land areas that are found near the Runway portion that you can plainly see on Google earth.   Along with the fact that a portion of the base...a large portion of the base is ran not by the Army, but by an Air force branch that has ties into NASA.   As we pulled to the side of the road (which I’m sure they now have my license plate), I stepped out and took pictures and noticed a few cars come and go, two of them completely black with no license plates that we could see.  We noticed a motorhome coming down a road to the South, and soon found out there was another camp area that ran partially along the perimeter of DPG, before it veered off to drop into the recreation area.  So we followed where the Motorhome came from, and drove down roughly a half mile of the perimeter fence line which had very stern warnings along the fence, such as “all video pictures, maps or drawings of this area will be confiscated, and the use of deadly force is authorized”.   Being previously from the military, this type of sign is common, but yet still a little unnerving.  There is said to be roughly 1,400 workers and residents on DPG, and it even includes a school and a Starbucks.  With that being said, there are reportedly over 300 miles of road, but very few people have access to over 90% of the roads.  I broke out a pair of binoculars and could see, what probably was the school, buildings, and business’s….all kind of gathered in one small location.  But I wondered, for an area the size of Rhode Island, there was still A LOT of land that was left for whatever is on it. Three hours later we arrived back home, and went through the pictures we had taken, and promptly looked up the area on Google earth.  The round Circles discussed above were very noticeable, as was the runway, other miscellaneous buildings, and what looked like underground buildings that were domed on the by dirt/landscape, on the south west corner of Dugway. 

     So, the mystery is still out.  In our eyes, even if you strip away the idea of UFO technology and the secrecy that shrouds the area, it is still awful and almost hard to deal with the fact that so many weapon tests have happened here.  And it is absolutely horrifying to think what the  potential risks could be to my family, not to mention the farmers and ranchers that live much closer than we do. I will finish by saying this as well.  I was in the military.  I fought for my Country and am proud to have done so.  But I don’t trust the government as far as I can throw them.  There are so many things in history that have been uncovered not only from our Government, but Governments around the world, that have done horrific things to their people, all in the name of getting a step ahead of the other guy.  Dugway proving grounds is a prime example of that mind set, and it blows me away to think what else has happened here that we aren’t even aware of.  I’m sure we have just touched the tip of the iceberg. 

Close the gates….