Calumet Air Force Station began operations in 1953 as part of the second wave of construction of such sites. It opened with AN/FPS-3 and AN/FPS-5 radars. In 1956, an AN/FPS-6 height-finder radar was installed, and 1958 saw further improvement with the installation of the AN/FPS-20 search radar.
In 1960, the station became part of the SAGE system, automating various tasks, and networking the stations together. In 1961, the AN/FPS-20 was upgraded to the AN/FPS-64, and two years after was replaced completely by the AN/FPS-27 search radar, the AN/FPS-26A height-finder, and the AN/FPS-90 (an upgraded version of the AN/FPS-6) height-finder.
The station was slated to be closed in 1979, and the AN/FPS-26A and AN/FPS-90 were removed from the site. Instead of closing, however, the station continued operations as part of the Joint Surveillance System, initially with the AN/FPS-27, but was soon that would be replaced by an AN/FPS-91A, and the addition of an AN/FPS-116 height-finder.
All operations finally ceased on September 30, 1988.
Later, the buildings would be used by the reform school, Keweenaw Academy, but that too would end. Currently, the former search radar tower is home to an AT&T cellular tower and equipment, but the rest of the site is mostly unused.
When I arrived here, I couldn't believe my eyes. This site possibly the most intact, pristine radar site I had yet visited. While there was evidence of changes made by the reform school that operated there, apparently briefly, not a great deal had actually changed.
There was some damage, of course, such as broken windows, some holes in walls, some mold, etc. All the kind of things neglect will do to any buildings over time. For the length of time they've been left unattended, however, I was greatly surprised.
I spent a little over two hours exploring and could easily have spent more time, but my travel schedule required otherwise.
While researching the history of this location, I ran across a number of interesting things. Since I couldn't find any confirmation, I left them out of the history. For example, one person notes a radiation contamination issue from the AN/FPS-64 that affected some of the crew. Someone else mentioned a drug bust in the married quarters that resulted in the arrest of several airmen, and two wives.
Also of note, Calumet AFS is part of a UFO story, as so many of these sites seem to be. Allegedly, a fighter was scrambled to intercept a target over Lake Superior that was unidentified by Calumet. During the tracking of the target and the fighter, the two blips merged and the fighter never returned.
The writer of this story contends that there were discrepancies in the stories issued by the US Air Force, and that the entire thing is suspicious. The authorities, however, claim that after a successful identification of a Canadian airliner, the aircraft was lost due to pilot error.