CAM MAIN, Cambridge Bay, 1991
(See interactive Google map, below...) In the mid-1950s, a series of radar stations was established north of the Arctic circle, stretching from Alaska to Greenland. It was called the Defence Early Warning (DEW) line, and was intended to provide the first warning against incoming Soviet Union aircraft or missiles. Most of the stations were in the Canadian Arctic, although all were built and run by the U.S. Air Force.

In the mid-80s, many of the DEW line stations were shut down, as advances in radar technology allowed for fewer, but more powerful, radar installations. At that time, the name of the system was changed to the North Warning System (NWS). Within a few years, the Soviet Union, and thus the threat, collapsed, and in 1990 control of the Canadian-based stations was handed over to Canada.

In the old DEW line system, there were a series of large "main" stations, each with responsibility for a number of smaller outposts running east of the main. The NWS kept this naming convention. Pictured here is CAM-MAIN, meaning it is the main station for the Cambridge Bay, Nunavut (then, North West Territories) area. It had responsibility for five smaller stations, named CAM-1, CAM-2, etc. Stations were generally about 100 miles apart, and most were accessible only by plane (or for the brave, by foot, or by boat in summer). CAM MAIN was unusual in that it was situated near an already established town (Cambridge Bay).

In the summer of 1991 I visited a number of NWS stations, including CAM MAIN.


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The Dome of the Paris OperaPool PartyCAM MAIN, Cambridge Bay, 1991Overpass (Holga)Carnivale, Isla Mujeres, Mexico, 2003