A History of the North Omaha Radar Station

The North Omaha Radar Station has a long history. Located at 11000 North 72nd Street, it was built in 1950 as the Omaha Air Force Station.

With exactly 40 acres on the intersection of North 72nd and McKinley Drive, it was part of a Cold War-focused radar network and was officially closed in 1968. That year, the site was officially transferred to the Federal Aviation Administration and listed as federal surplus property afterwards.

Lots of people had schemes for the place.

A close-up of a radar at the North Omaha Radar Station in 1954.

Big Schemes

According to The Lincoln Journal, in 1969, Omaha Mayor Eugene Leahy’s office submitted a proposal to the State of Nebraska Governor’s Crime Commission. They suggested the State apply to the federal government to take over the inactive station and operate it as a state law enforcement training center. The center was denied to Omaha though, and was sent to Grand Island instead.

A US Air Force noncommissioned officer surveying the grounds at the North Omaha Radar Station in 1954.

Nebraska’s Governor at the time, Norbert Tiemann, was asked to consider the station for a jail and educational purposes. The Douglas County Board thought it could be a prisoner work-release center or a juvenile “halfway” house and correction farm. The 40-acre radar station was turned down Friday as the site for the Nri)raska Law Enforcement Training Center.

The radars at the North Omaha Radar Station in 1954.

In 1971, possession of the North Omaha Radar Station went to Omaha Public Schools. In 1973, the State of Nebraska Department of Health, Education and Welfare began lobbying for the Indian Centers Association to take over the site after OPS didn’t do anything with the facility. However, in 1974, ownership reverted to the federal government.
A 2015 shot of some of the facilities, in disrepair and likely not long in this world! 

Modern Realities

The US Army Corps of Engineers managed the station starting in 1974. The Construction Laborers Local Union #1140 has kept offices there since the 1980s, and there’s still a hall there that hosts events regularly. The CLBC Flea Market was been located on the site from the 1970s, with indoor and outdoor stalls. The Companion Dog Club of Omaha and Council Bluffs has been located there since at least 2005.

Locals report that its been a training facility for the Omaha Police Department, and was a “haunted barracks” for a local radio station.

As of 2014, the radar station was an FAA site that used the Air Force AN/FPS-66A radar as part of an international missile tracking program. Apparently though, the FPS-66A radar was removed that year and serves that purpose no more. It is still operated as an FAA site though.

In a promotional photo from the late 1950s, a radar operator at the North Omaha Radar Station has placed a cut-out of a witch on his radar monitor.

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Elsewhere Online

Bonus Pic!

A radar operator and an officer at the North Omaha Radar Station in 1954.

 

A civilian operator uses a communications device at the North Omaha Radar Station in the 1950s.

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