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Thule Air Base Arctic Construction
The minimum temperature and maximum wind velocity were not known in this part of the world when the base was planned. Therefore everything was built to the highest standards possible for temperatures of -100 F (-73 C) and winds up to 200 mph (320 km/hr). Special designs were also incorporated from lessons learned in Alaska during WWII.
Here is an overall view of Thule Air Base with Mt. Dundas and North Star Bay in the background. While it is probably correct to state that Thule AFB became operational before 1953, it was far from being completed at that time. It was built by 5,000 to 8500 experienced U S construction workers, toiling ten hours per day and seven days per week, a majority of which were employed by North Atlantic Constructors (NAC). Later when I was there (1968) the majority of work on daily maintenance and housekeeping was done by Danish civilians. Besides the primary early alert function of the base with the huge over-the-horizon radar, the base supported international arctic research projects and outlying posts in Greenland and Canada. During the summer there were numerous scientists and researchers coming and going on various projects. The airstrip supported both military and civilian commercial flights from the U.S. and Europe.
However, the little pine tree is not typical for this region. In fact this tree was the entire "Thule forest" and was brought in from southern Greenland by a C-54 flight engineer. It is the tallest tree for hundreds of miles around. The chain is to keep it from being stolen. When guys get bored they do mischievous things! Read the Thule tree saga.
One of the legends about Thule was that there
was a woman behind every tree. This was the only tree, and I looked and looked
for a woman. Never did find one!
© 2007 Larry Rodrigues. All rights reserved.