Adak Island sits midway between the United States and Russia, where the Bering Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. So of course the government built a sprawling naval air station, and as many as 5,000 troops and their families lived there at the height of the Cold War. They all went home when that long war ended, leaving the base behind.
It still stands, a relic on the tundra. “Adak in many ways is a forgotten island, now inhabited by a small group of hearty souls, living in the shadow of a war that never was,” says photographer
The island is part of the Aleutian Islands that stretch from the Alaskan mainland to Russia. The US government built the Adak Army Base and Naval Operating Base in 1942 to launch aerial attacks against islands held by the Japanese. Later, it became a reconnaissance station keeping tabs on Soviet submarines. The collapse of the Soviet Union left the Pentagon with a base it no longer needed, so it decommissioned Adak in 1997.
Huff read about Adak shortly after moving to Juneau, Alaska in 2005. It fascinated him, but he didn’t make the trip until 2015. It blew him away. “It’s this treeless, windswept landscape of rolling green hills and abrupt cliffs, the Bering Sea to the north and the Pacific to the south,” he says. “It’s devastatingly beautiful.”
Abandoned bunkers, empty houses, and rusting artillery dot the landscape, with the cold, blue sea beyond. Huff wandered through empty buildings filled with dilapidated furniture and explored eerie fallout shelters. Everything is fallen apart, battered by the weather and picked over by scavengers. “It’s windy and wet there, so as soon as a piece of siding comes off or a window is broken, things deteriorate really quickly,” he says.
About 110 people live on the island, which features two restaurants and a general store where fresh milk can cost $14. The school has just 14 pupils, who are taught by student teachers from Europe. It’s a tough life, and most people work two or three jobs to make ends meet. They work for the government, on halibut boats, at the fish processing plant or the few businesses on the island. Some folks would like to spiff the place up a bit, but find themselves stymied by bureaucracy.
Huff has visited Adak Island three times, and plans to return this spring to take more photos of a place forgotten by all but a devout few who remain among the relics.
source : https://www.wired.com/2017/02/ben-huff-adak/