A Cold War Era, American Radar Station Near Stephenville
Kippens, Stephenville Area
The Stephenville Radar Station was very similar to the one at Red Cliff on the east coast of the island. The site is located on top of mountain near the community of Kippens, west of Stephenville. Similar to Red Cliff, this radar station was part of the Pine Tree Line that monitored aircraft during the Cold War. The site was classified as a general surveillance radar station that would detect unidentified aircraft's height, speed and direction which it could then relay to a fighter jet intercept squadron located nearby at Harmon Air Force Base.
The base was built in 1952 by the United States Air Force and was under the control of 640th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron until it was decommissioned in June of 1971. It was completely self supported and self contained. The site contained living quarters for men stationed there, several large operation buildings, and a number of support buildings.
Very little remains on the hill top today. The foundations for the radar and operations buildings can be seen but all that remains standing is one of the radar domes and a large concrete building. You are able to enter the remaining building. Inside is a large room and several smaller ones off from it. The radar dome is locked and is unable to be entered.
To get to the site you must complete a short hike on a dirt road. There are still several communication towers and weather radars located on the mountain so the road is still maintained. Even though the site is out of the way, it is well worth the hike. The view from the top of the mountain is incredible and something else to see here is the Low Northern Rockcress; and endangered plant species only found on this mountain.
Sources & Further Exploring
Cardoulis, J. (1990). A Friendly Invasion: The American Military in Newfoundland, 1940-1990. St. John's, N.L.: Breakwater.
Parrott, W. (1993). On the Perimeter: A Reconstruction of the Military Geography of Newfoundland and Labrador During the Second World War, 1939-1945.
Pinetree Radar Site. Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage website found at www.heritage.nf.ca/articles/society/pinetree-radar-site.php.
Smallwood, J. R., & Pitt, R. D. W. (1981). Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador. St. John's, N.L.: Newfoundland Book Publishers. (Article: “Radar Sites”. Available online in the Centre for Newfoundland Studies collections database).