Savanna, Illinois: Savanna Army Depot

Decommissioned munitions depot and storage, with old bomb factories and base facilities (1918-2000). Miles of roads, rows of bomb bunkers under earthen mounds.
Address:
Army Depot Rd, Savanna, IL
Directions:
North of Savanna, Hwy 84, Army Depot Rd. Listed as in Hanover, IL.
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Savanna Army Depot. Savanna Army Depot

An old munitions depot and storage with old bomb factories and base facilities has been converted to a wildlife sanctuary and reserve in part (the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, Lost Mound Unit).

There are extensive roads within the refuge, all paved, and this permits the visitor to see areas that had been off limits to public view for many decades. There is an observation deck overlooking the Mississippi River, as well as signs to direct and inform.

Huge tracts of the old original Army munitions storage and production are off limits as yet, as the buildings are being decomissioned or too dangerous for the general public. The buildings are behind locked gates and fences with warning signs as well as barbed wire fence top guards. Other extensive storage buildings and support facilities such as old barracks and officer's club, headquarters building and many others are closed and locked, but can be inspected closely and approached on foot or car. Industrial activity is also underway there as some tracts and buildings are privately owned and part of a multi use development plan.

The land itself is unique. The area has the largest sand dune in Illinois. Cactus and many rare and flowering plants are seen by driving about. There was a museum there, but at my last visit, it was closed. This museum explained the mission of the military there. There is an information center attached to the wildlife refuge. I use GPS there and it is useful to navigate old roads that have gone unattended and unmarked. Vegetation is reclaiming some areas in recent years.

This facility prepared the special bombs for the Doolittle Raid on Japan in WW2, and secured the A-bombs for a time before they were eventually dropped on Japan during WW2.

[Stephan Parsons, 08/08/2013]

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October 22, 2014

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