DEW Line Passage:

Flaxman Island and POW-3 (Flaxman Island aka Bullen Point)


The remaining structures on Flaxman Island appear through the fog.
After sailing out of Camden Bay and around the delta of the Canning River, we spent the night at the research camp of two Fish and Wildlife bird biologists. The next day we sailed over in increasing fog to Flaxman Island, where families from Kaktovik have allotments. Flaxman Island is well-known as the camp from where geographer Ernest Leffingwell (thanks to the expert help of several Inupiat guides who rarely receive recognition) mapped a section of the Arctic coast and identified the Saddlerochit oil seeps.

2 black and white photos courtesy of Explore North

Photo courtesy of the Arctic Circle website (University of Connecticut)

Most of the outbuildings are gone and Leffingwell's cabin (designated a National Historic Site in 1978) was rapidly disentegrating when we visited. The wind picked up and we spent a day there, incorporating a tarp into our ever-improving windbreak design.

 

 

Ryan was particularly impressed with the quality material and construction of this surviving outbuilding, which must have come off of Leffingwell party's ice-beset ship, the Duchess of Bedford. Other photos of the camp and the ship can be seen on a National Park Service website.

The bays adjacent to Leffingwell's camp on Flaxman were filled with thousands of ducks.
We were enjoying other local resources (char and whitefish) as well.
Leaving Flaxman, we soon arrived at the eastern edge of the oil fields. We had heard that Exxon had had their Point Thompson lease pulled due to inactivity, but it turns out that Point Thompson 3 was still active and a crew was out there tearing apart old equipment and getting ready to put in 20 new natural gas wells. Having first ascertained that we were not Greenpeace, the friendly crew loaded us up with junk food and we were on our way.

We soon arrived at the POW-3 DEW Line site, which is known by its radio call name 'Flaxman Island' but which is actually located at Bullen Point. POW-3 was an Auxilliary DEW site until it was deactivated in 1971. The upgraded North Warning System Short Range Radar operated there from 1994 until 2007, when it was closed - in part due to coastal erosion and budget concerns. There was a clean up at Bullen in summer 2007 and it appears as though most of the original dump is gone - all traces of it should be taken care of after a couple more storms.

1998 site photo courtesy of L. Wilson's DEW Line site

The exciting and relatively rare orange variant of the tundra daisy - often used to mark runways.

A semi-subterranean ice cellar in front of the site.

Behind the site there is a new dump. Some details on the clean up can be found at the Hoeffler Consulting Group website.

 

Next: Big Oil and POW-C/Pt. McIntyre (Prudhoe Bay)

Back: Camden Bay - POW-D, Kongegivik, Brownlow Point

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