Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Tank Farm

The tank farm? What do they do? Farm tanks there? Ayup, once upon a time.

My mother and stepfather live directly across from what was once a tank farm. This pastoral scene looking down the entry road once contained massive fuel tanks full of fuel. The fuel was used at the Brunswick Naval Air Station in Brunswick Maine. Like most military things within the past 15 years, the Naval Station has been downsized and is slated to permanently close by the fall of 2011.

Where huge oil tankers once plied the waters of the bay, there are only sea birds and lobstermen gliding across the sea. The huge dock sits idle and is fenced off to prevent visitors to the park from accessing its sturdy platform in the sea. Perhaps the city will one day open it up so the public can enjoy some deep water fishing right from the pier. Perhaps not. Time will tell.

Turning from the water and pier, we find a remnant from the tank farm, a huge humming generator. I am not sure what it is powering now, or what it powered when the tank farm was in operation, but it must be powering something important to still be running! You can just see the boarded up buildings behind this generator. A ghost town for sure. I was reminded a bit of Iraq and its unused buildings while walking along this former tank farm. Note the connection? A military fuel depot now closed, yet we are at war in two countries. There has to be some irony here somewhere.

My mother and stepfather once worked at this tank farm. My stepfather performed maintenance, while my mother was a security guard here. She traveled around the farm on a golf cart making security checks at the tanks and all of the buildings. When the tank farm closed, her job went away. My stepfather's was lost when the tank farm was dismantled and the land turned over to the town. A result of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission I believe. The Brunswick Naval Air Station is slated to close in a few years too.

The Jimster thought this shell of a building was a pretty neat space. He had visions of skateboarding on its concrete floor. I could see it being used a big dance hall for a party. We obviously had two very different opinions on the matter. Either vision would work as this whole tank farm has been made into a park for the enjoyment of all, skateboarders and dancers alike. All along the paths and roads are simple entertainment enhancers, as I like to call them. Picnic tables, horseshoe and barbecue pits, port a johns, and nicely cut grass speak of family reunions, clam and lobster bakes, and good times.

On this day we contented ourselves with merely wading in the ocean with a dog who loves to swim and with enjoying the views of milkweed, goldenrod, cat tails, paper birch trees, berries, and roses. It is not hard to picture those tanks growing in the fields, but I so enjoy the new views of nature at her best.

Nature is doing the farming now, and what a farm it is! A farm of quiet, peace, wildlife, and plants. Once you look past the chain link fence topped with barbed wire, the old buildings, tall water tower, you can then see a farm of nothing but tranquility and nature. This farm is now a part of the town, and its people are the farmers. The crop raised from nature is happy citizens.

If you remember my "Berry Maine" post, you will remember I talked of the fence in some of the pictures. This Tank Farm, now a town park and jewel, is still surrounded by a tall chain link fence, topped with razor wire. A sign of the times gone by.

in the garden....


  1. Good morning Tina, I like the way that you explained the transition to nature doing the farming now. I am glad that the area is used for recreation rather than just being boarded up and people kept out. Thanks for showing us.


  2. It's nice that the usused land is being used by the families for recreation. I've always wondered what happened to some of these bases when they closed up. There is one in Columbus, OH where my in-laws live that the base housing has been turned into apartments.

  3. There are so many unused places all over now. I'm glad to see hope for some. Of course I see a big greenhouse or nursery in the picture of the shell of a building! :)

  4. I too am glad to see that some of these bases have been turned into public places for people to enjoy. So many are boarded up, locked up & deemed unapproachable. What a waste of such places.
    Thanks for explaining Tina, the once viable place of importance.

  5. Tina, I’ve been waiting for this post. The park looks like a fun place to take the family and dog so we’ll check it out.

    These are soothing images after last night’s election frenzy. It’s hard to believe life will now go back to normal. A new normal for sure. It was an interesting parallel you made between the BNAS closure and Iraq. The world is changing.

    One thing that doesn’t change is bittersweet– once you get it, you’re stuck with it. It might look pretty on someone else’s fence, but you do not want this nasty invasive in your yard. It strangles trees.

  6. Hi, Tina--Are these photos from your trip earlier this year? I'd guessed that they were, but in this last one of the fence it looks like the trees are turning. I like your ideas for making the park even more park-like--a huge gazebo for dances sounds wonderful!

  7. I may be wrong, Mom will know. The park became out of a controversal issue. Some people wanted a purposed L&G plant (gas and propane) and some did not. The did nots won. Every year on the anniversary of the vote there is a big BBQ and fair-like celebration in hopes people will not have a great divide about it. It's George Mitchel park now.

  8. Tina,

    Good morning! You have had a few good adventures this year! maine is lovely. What a contrast the razor wire fence and just beginning to turn trees and what an an contrast that it is now a recreation area surrounded by razor wire!

  9. Good morning all! Glorious day here! Gotta get in the garden today.

    Frances, Thanks. Yes, a farm full of tanks-now plants and wildlife. A neat change.

    Racquel, It is so great the government is finding new uses for old bases, housing and fuel farm. Very important not to waste it all.

    Linda, Great catch on the greenhouse! I never even though. Oh wow, who wouldn't want one like this? So big and concrete floor already.

    Sarah, I am glad you like it. The park is called the George Mitchell Park like Dawn said. Very nice. Make sure to go off the trail into the woods. That is where the best stuff it. So tranquil and quiet. Jimmy saw deer when he went hiking through there. I agree with you on the bittersweet-pretty on someone else's fence-not mine! I have to deal with the J. honeysuckle as it is.

    Cosmo, These are pictures from out October trip to Maine. We also went in July. We had a great time both times. It is very different from up there from here (lots of deer there too) because of the smaller town nature and better quality of life I think.

    Dawn, I expect Mom will let us know all about her neighbor the park, formerly known as a tank farm. It will be interesting to see her perspective.

    Gail, The park is so big you really don't notice the razor wire and fencing. I just thought it kind of a neat contrast so chose to highlight it. This park is a gem in the area. Many, many residents walk and run here daily. Lots of dogs too. You should've seen the gorgeous dahlias out front. I got some pictures but couldn't fit them in. A community garden if you will.

    ttyl gotta get in the garden and get stuff in before the rain comes.

  10. Tina are you really ready for my perspective? It will be a book.

    The fence in front of the pier has been removed since you were here last month so the whole length of the water is now opened for all to enjoy. However, you can only go part way out on the pier which is sad as I spent many hours of fun fishing from the front and on the dolphins while working there. The pier needs many repairs so may never be opened to the public due to insurance reasons.

    I have no clue what the generator is as it was not there when the fuel depot was in operation. We only had the 3 huge generators which were in the generator building which has been dismantled.
    Papa is over there now, walking the fat dog but I will ask about it when he returns.

    The BRAC commission had nothing to do with the closing. It was some "fat cat" sitting in an office that was trying to make brownie points and said it would be better to spend mega money to build a new tank farm on the base and truck the fuel 100 miles over roads that were already in poor condition. No highway, just back roads. Now the base is closing so go figure.

    Yup, I loved my golf cart!! I hauled many, many loads of pine needles, seaweed, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries in it.
    For the most part I was the only one using it as it took 3 or 4 mintes longer to make a round in it. The rest were to worried about getting back to the guard shack to go back it sleep. In the cart it took 10 to 15 mintues to make a round. We made a round 4 times outta an 8 hour shift. Tells you something about the guys working there. I was the only female, except Dawn who worked there part time for a while. I stayed awake like we were susposed to do. Women are the BEST!!

    Sarah you must go there as it is really a great spot and they now keep trails in the woods mowed and opened for walking and cross country sking in the winter. You can even look across the water and see Mt. Washington in Hew Hampshire.

    Dawn you are right about the fighting over the LNG and the Harpswell Festival grew out of it. However, it is held in the summer and has grown a lot over the years. Money earned from it go to many uses around town.

    There are 120 acres of land in the tank farm and when it was in operation the big tankers would come and off load fuel into the 14 tanks and then it was pumped thru a pipeling to the navy base in Brunswick. The pipline was 10 miles long. The fuel? JP5, which is what runs the planes.

    Tina, also the tall wire fence at the beginning of the fuel farm has been removed and a nice low, wooden fence has replace it.

    Autos are not allowed in the tank farm except during the Harpswell Festival. Insurance again. The town does hope to overcome that in the near future.

    The tank farm does ask that you clean up any mess left behing by your dogs that enjoy the place and the tank farm even supplies the bags for dog ownes to use. Just have to grab one as you enter!!

  11. Tina ~ Very interesting post. I'm glad that it's now a place to be enjoyed. It's also very interesting to hear some more history about it from your Mom.

  12. Tina and Jean, Nice info on the Tank Farm! You two have mentioned this place many times and I just could not see it in my mind. Now I have pics to go with the talk!

    We surpassed the BRAC down here at Ft Gordon and since the final voting; the post has enlarged a bit and continues to grow. Am sure some of the closures are relocating to existing places such as here in GA either now or in time....

    Color is great here now! Must get out and snap pics and soon or it will be gone... Has happend over night! argggg...

  13. Thanks Cindy. Since I spent many, many hours over there and have such great memories of it, I do love talking about it. I might also add that the many, many hours were happy ones. It is a magnificence spot with lotsa neat stuff to do.

    Skeeter if they are putting a lot of money into Ft. Gordon and it is growing, watch out for the next BRAC listing as it surely will be on it!!!! That is the way Uncle Sam works. I think most, if not all of the units from Brunswick are going to Florida.

    Now for the scoop on the generator. It is not a generator. It is a transformer put in by our local power company so there is power there as it had all been taken out by the goverment. They need power for the festival and other events. It can be rented to group events but you have to fill out an application and it has to be approved by the Harpswell slectmen. There are very strict rules to follow.

    I also need to correct a mistake I made. The doggie poop bags are not supplied by the town. They are there, thanks to a donation from a person who wishes to be anonymous and the money was given for that one reason, poop bags for all. Enough money was give to last a very long time. What a sweet person!!

  14. Wow Mom, Yup, I expected a book. I did not know all the politics on the fuel farm closing. I just remember it was a bitter fight up there in your little area of Maine. Glad the pier is open. How come you can't walk all the way to the end? Great an anonymous benefactor donates those tidy doggie bags for the use of the people. I hope Jesse loses some weight. When I was at the vet yesterday (with all three dogs), there was a beagle there. She was on a diet and that was why she was there. A cutie pie and very sweet.

    Cindy, My mom has definite opinions on the tank farm as you can see:)

    Skeeter, Downsizing has affected so many. Go get some good fall color. It is outstanding this year!

  15. No fight about the tank farm closing. The fight was after when a company wanted to lease a small part of it to store LNG (liquidfied natural gas). Then it was a BIG year long fight that divided the whole town. The no's were down right mean and did a lotta damage to a lot of the yes people's property. In the end the town voted it down. As much as I love this town I was really saddened over it all and most of all, the final vote. LNG is about the safest fuel there is and I feel we threw away a real golden egg. We could have had natural gas to heat with, cheaply and the lease involved millions of dollars for the town. The light and noise pollution would have been less than it was from the tank farm. Oh well, water under the bridge
    However it would have paid for our own high school, instead of bussing kids 15 miles to a school we pay the most for and there are 3 other towns in it.

  16. Tina ~ This was all so fascinating. Wonderful to see Mother Nature taking a firm hand and restoring all that natural glory. ~ Deb

  17. An interesting post, Tina; I'm glad that this "farm" is now being used by the locals for recreation. We used to have a large air base in a town near here. When it closed 20 years or so ago, the city tried to make use of the buildings left behind. It's not always easy to make that transition successfully; that town changed drastically after the base left.

  18. If Ft Campbell were to shut down, Clarksville would slowly become a ghost town. People dont believe it but I DO....

    Yes Jean, you are probably right. In Germany the govt spend millions renovating a base then closed it... go figure that one....

  19. What a great opportuniy for the town. I hope they can use it to its fullest.

  20. Mom, I remember about that LNG, but then again it is good democracy works even though some are happy, some not. Like today.

    Deb, It is so nice to see the changes. To know that those huge tanks were once there and now plants is gratifying.

    Rose, You are so right. It is not easy to transition at all. Many folks don't appreciate the military until they are gone and the economy goes down a bit. I hope your town was able to use that airbase.

    Skeeter, Yes, all we hear every day is how Clarksville is insulated against the economic turndown in real estate since we have the soldiers returning. It is no big guess how the town would hurt if FTC were to leave. I hope that never happens.

    Les, It seems they are using it well. The citizens love it and it does not seem to be a drain on resources. Though I have no doubt developers would love to get in there.

  21. Really interesting post with a happy ending!

  22. Dance hall or skateboard park? I think the building shell would be a great place to grow some vines... Thanks for taking me on your journey.

  23. I, like the others, am glad that this farm can be enjoyed by others. It's such a wonderful-looking place. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  24. Good morning Tina,I likedyr blogvery much it is very refreshing,the way you have narrated.

    await more...
    I will be following your blog .

  25. Wow, loved your post and the many comments, especially your Mom's. Can make out from the photo of your son and pet the peace and tranquillity that the place has.

  26. Hi Dot, It is nice to see a bit of the north when we live so far in the south. I have to turn your blog on just so I can hear Elvis this morning:)

    JGH, You would think that me as a gardener would think of this too, but sadly I did not. Vines would love it here:)

    DP, You're welcomed!

    Kanak, It was so peaceful. A perfect day in Maine. Jimmy and my daughter's dog Bella had a ball in the water. Though it was a bit cold since October in Maine usually bring the cold, Jimmy was ok with it. My mother will appreciate your kind comment.

  27. Thanks kanak, I do really enjoy sharing one of my favorite spots in this big world and thanks Tina for the great post!!

  28. Lola, I am sorry I missed you yesterday on the comments. It is good that this spot is not boarded up and wasted.

    I hope I didn't miss anyone else. Whew!

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