Explore Abandoned WWII And Cold War Military Remnants On Alaska's Adak Island

Adak Island - A Historic Blast From The Past

 By: Courtney Dowd-Stanley 

Alaska's Adak Island is an isolated destination with rich history, rugged terrain, and scenic landscapes. Its location in the Aleutian Islands marks the dividing line between the Bering Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. Adak is an island, the largest town on the island goes by the same name though it was formerly Adak Station, and is the southernmost city in Alaska. Its remote locality proved to be ideal for the United States military during both World War II and the Cold War, causing the area to grow rapidly in a very short amount of time. However, it wasn’t long before the wars ended and the military bases closed down. What remains of Adak has left many onlookers to believe that Adak is nothing more than a mere ghost town. Flickr - Paxson Woelber
Interestingly enough, Adak was the westernmost military installation in the entire nation for a short while. At the time, it allowed American military forces to mount a successful offensive operation against the Japanese-held Aleutian Islands of Kiska and Attu during WWII. The Naval Air Facility Adak was established in 1942, which played a very significant role during the Cold War. A submarine surveillance center was established and brought in both US Navy and Coast Guard members by the masses. Flickr - Travis
At Adak Station’s peak, the military community housed over 6,000 Navy and Coast Guard members along with their families. Buildings popped up all over the place—from residential structures and schools to popular chain restaurants and local watering holes. Flickr - Paxson Woelber
During the peak of this military community, Adak had a college campus and a major hospital. Entertainment in the area included a wide variety of options including a movie theater, roller skating rink, swimming pool, squash court, saunas, ski lodge, bowling alleys, skeet range, auto hobby shop, photo lab, and racquetball and tennis courts. Flickr - Paxson Woelber
The military base opted to downsize years later in 1994, and it was at this time that both family housing units and public schools closed. Flickr - Paxson Woelber
The Naval Air Facility Adak was closed officially in 1997 before reopening as the Adak Airport. Although the facility became listed as a National Historic Landmark for its role in WWII, most of the remnants of the past have since been demolished or lie in shambled ruins. Many buildings have since closed or become abandoned, but there are still some structures that remain open to serve the small local population that resides on Adak today. Flickr - army.arch Adam
Today the population of Adak is just over 300 permanent residents, but the rich military history isn’t gone. In fact, relics from the past can be found just about everywhere you look. Flickr - Travis
As you explore Adak today, you'll see row upon row of abandoned duplexes that once housed thousands of military members along with their beloved families. Flickr - Travis
Many signs that used to be pleasantly displayed with information about the historic value of local buildings are now covered in rust. Flickr - Kim F
It is such a rare and unique sight to observe historical manholes used during the WWII era. Flickr - Kim F
Quonset huts and military bunkers can be found scattered throughout Adak, abandoned and slowly becoming reclaimed by nature. Flickr - Travis
You'll find signage that indicates particular areas where enlisted military members practiced drills with live ammunition. Flickr - Travis
The abandoned playground equipment on Adak is a stark reminder of the many military families that used to call Adak home. Flickr - Paxson Woelber
Even the abandoned police barracks structure still stands strong on Adak today. Flickr - Travis
You'll also find an abandoned Pizza Hut in the middle of town. Adak Island Flickr - Kim F
Along with the other popular chain restaurant… McDonald's! Flickr - Travis Flickr - Travis
With every twist and turn comes a new surprise. Tucked away from the downtown Adak area, you can even find remnants of an abandoned bar on the island's mountainside. Adak Island Flickr - Travis
Alaska's Adak Island is a place unlike any other in the world. Along with the magnificently diverse terrain and breathtaking scenery, Adak is filled with an immense amount of historic charm. Walking through town is truly like taking a step back in time. Not only will the friendly locals that currently reside on the island make you feel right at home, but the enchanting setting will make you feel as if you're in the single most unique place on planet earth. Even the town motto is amazing: "Where the winds blow, and friendship grow." Adak Island Flickr - Global Wildlife Conservation
Explore Adak: Many people visit Alaska's Adak Island to experience the prolific fisheries, abundant caribou, and breathtaking natural beauty. This remote wonder is a photographer’s paradise and a nirvana for those seeking tranquility in the wilderness. Outdoor recreational activities on Adak include fishing, hunting, backpacking, birding, and wildlife viewing. The prized Adak caribou can exceed weights of 700 pounds, making hunting a prime attraction. You can access this island destination by flying into the Adak Airport.
Looking for more where that came from? Check out Adak Island - Salvaging Items Left Behind. Also, this 1964 Good Friday Earthquake Photo Gallery will show you a glimpse into the destruction of the second largest earthquake in recorded history. Be sure to also check out The Alaska Purchase - A Brief History. If you are living and loving The Alaska Life – share your adventures with us on our Facebook page HERE, and they might just end up getting featured in one of our next blog posts.
Written by Courtney Dowd-Stanley 

140 comments

I was stationed on Adak with the seabees MCB5 in 1971. We built the em club. Enjoyed every minute. There was a lot of things to do besides work. You could get fresh king crab right off the crabboats. Climbed to the top of Mt. Moffet. Fishing for trout in Lake Andrew. Halibut fishing. Or go on a hike looking for remains of WW II. We left just before the housing project started.

David April 17, 2021

It was the day care center… the only pizza place was up by the old tundra tavern… Fred and Dee owned it along with the McDonald’s… PWD 89-92

LeeRoy April 17, 2021

I was stationed there in 78/79 right out of boot camp worked at the fire dept,back then I couldn’t wait to leave but looking back I wish I had spent more time there great place and great memories,,,,,,

stephen lamonte April 17, 2021

My husband was stationed here in 1956 in the SeaBees. He loved it…

Ellen McDaniel April 17, 2021

I was stationed there in 1978 and 79 went there straight out of boot camp I worked at fire sta. 1 I lived on bering hill I have memories from this place I will never forget,being there when I was in the navy I couldn’t wait til it was my time to leave,but looking back now I wish I had spent much more time there,,, eagles were every where,such a beautiful place its sad to see what it has become

stephen lamonte April 17, 2021

I would like to see it one more time, the national forest, the cemetery, and the hanger.

Johnny Osborn April 17, 2021

I was stationed on Adak August 1963- August 1964, I still don’t care about going back there, I had my feel of it.

Robert Hussell April 17, 2021

The “Pizza Hut” was the branch hospital

Lisa Morgan April 17, 2021

There was not a Pizza Huton the island. The building with the red top was the child delelopment center.
There was a pizza shop on Bering Hill near the theater.

Wanda April 17, 2021

i think it said it was now a National park now, so i would say no.. but you could ask park service or the Gov.. if you find out i would like to know as well….

erick April 17, 2021

There was NO pizza hut in the island. So I’m not sure what building you thought was a Pizza Hut.

Lori April 17, 2021

This would be an ideal place for refugees, maybe. If they are sincere about wanting to be in the US, let them make this place live again. Or maybe homeless people could use this place. Why not?

Ruth April 17, 2021

My husband and I taught in the newly finished school on ADAK in 1965. We had one and a half days of sunshine and the Base Commander declared a Holiday for
the entire

Al & Sheran Benerth April 17, 2021

My dad was stationed there in the 1940s. I remember him telling me about the barracks he lived in & how cold it was.

Shawna Kinsman April 17, 2021

Could a person rent and fix these up or purchase them?

Nicole Sadler April 17, 2021

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