This Montana Ghost Town is a Creepy Relic of the Cold War
When you think of ghost towns in Montana, the image in your head is probably something like Virginia City or Elkhorn or one of the many pioneer communities and mining towns dotted across the Treasure State. You're probably picturing log cabins or rough-hewn timber buildings with clapboard siding and hitching posts out front. That's not the case with Saint Marie, Montana.
The creepy ghost town of Saint Marie is only about 60 years old.
The former military base in the barren plains of northern Montana was activated in 1957, according to this piece by Montana's Historic Landscapes. Named Glasgow Air Force Base, it was first abandoned by the military in 1968. The base reportedly saw some use again in the '70s, until it was decommissioned in 1976, writes the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.
The base was part of the United States air defense during the cold war.
I'm barely old enough to vaguely remember having Cold War drills in elementary school around 1980. Glasgow AFB was built for intercepting a potential Russian attack on the United States. The runways were lengthened in 1960 to accommodate long-range bombers. Military History Fandom says the base was home to the 476th Fighter Group from 1957 to 1960, and the 13th Fighter Interceptor Squadron from 1959 to 68. Other groups were stationed at the base over the years, including the 326th Bombardment Squadron, the 4141st Strategic Wing, the 91st Bombardment Wing, and the 91st Strategic Missile Wing among others.
The town is crumbling, but the airfield appears to be in good shape.
Zooming around on Google Earth, it looks like the landing strip and some associated buildings are still in good shape and are probably being maintained. In 2018 Boeing made the news when the company purchased most of the former base to use as a test facility.
Rows and rows of empty houses line the streets.
The 2020 US Census reported 470 people live in Saint Marie, up from 268 in 2010. The homes were offered at auction decades ago, but it appears the majority of them remain empty, slowly decaying from the elements and lack of maintenance.
It was once a normal community with schools, churches, and other facilities.
Reports claim the population of Glasgow fell by thousands when the base was closed. Now, the AFB community of Saint Marie looks like a post-apocalyptic movie set.
It's in the heart of missile silo country.
The New York Times wrote in 2021 that Montana, Wyoming, the Dakota's, and Missouri are home to 1,000 Minuteman missiles. If you've spent much time driving around the backroads of eastern Montana, you've probably encountered dirt roads leading to locked gates with stern warnings to Do Not Enter, perhaps with a Humvee or black SUV nearby. There is some debate on their usefulness, with so many advances in warfare technology.
The images in this article are screen captures from the video above, originally posted on YouTube in 2012 by user davidegg22. The eerie music compliments the creep factor. Remember, trespassing is a crime. Please observe all posted signage if you make the long trip to Glasgow to see what remains of Saint Marie.
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