Sierra Army Depot

Welcome to the Atlas Obscura Community discussion of Sierra Army Depot in Doyle, California. Ask questions or share travel tips, experiences, pictures, or general comments with the community. For the story behind this place, check out the Atlas Obscura entry:

In fact, Sierra Army Depot is not the result of a congressional boondoggle; we are an 'End of First Life Center", something unique for the military. Here vehicles come from theater, or from training, and are either sold or used to rebuild vehicles to go back to the field, rather than just manufacturing new vehicles. And there are far more than just Abrams tanks. This of us as a 'Pick and Pull" for heavy equipment! It is called ‘saving the taxpayers money’, through reuse and rebuilding.

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Thanks for the clarification, @ukulelemike! We’ve edited the text a bit in response to your comment, and thanks again for commenting on the place!

My sister was assigned to Herlong as Civil Service psychologist counseling Army personnel with substance abuse problems. From what she described the installation nearby was just an explosive ordnance disposal depot done in open pits by a civilian contractor. I knew that he did a brisk business in shell casings and other salvaged metal but I didn’t connect it to the Sierra Depot until I ran across that photo in the article. This guy was facing legal problems from folks in Nevada down wind from the toxic dust clouds. My sister found government living quarters in Herlong unlivable and elected to do a 70 mile commute from Reno, Nevada. Paiutes from the Susanville Indian Rancheria voiced similar issues with the 120 units alloted to them in Herlong. Ghastly mineral stains on the stucco buildings, undrinkable water from local sources, explosions and clouds of toxic dust may have accounted for why nobody in Civil Service wanted to take the assignment. My sister was closing out her career and thought “How bad could it get for a shortimer like me?” They didn’t even glance at her qualifications before they signed her up and shipped her out there. It didn’t take her too long to find out just how awful it could get. So awful that I couldn’t resist her invitation to visit her in Reno but she strongly discouraged me from visiting her job site which was what I wanted to see. Just before I could arrange to get out there, they closed out her assignment at the beginning of the Big Downsize by the DoD and didn’t reopen it. They compensated her with an assignment to a remote outpost in Wyoming that nobody wanted either.
There’s another place near Texarkana called Red River Army Depot where they repair MRAPs and HUMVEEs by cannibalizing freshly demolished ones straight from some slam bang theater of operations overseas. Sounds like Sierra Depot only more moist. They’ve tried to close down Red River Depot twice but business is so brisk they just keep on trucking even today. I’ve somehow managed to stifle any impulse to drive over there and do any site seeing. Good post ukulelemike.

06/13/20 - After failing to locate “Secret - Abandoned Brothel,” I knew this was a fool’s errand, but I decided to see how close I could get from the north. Not that close, it turns out. Satellite images did not reveal the fences. I will be in the area again, not sure when, but when I am I may look into any potential official tours. Perhaps ukulelemike could point me in the right direction there.

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Just a little cautionary advice. If that chain link fence marks the boundary of a military installation stay at least 1/4 mile shy of it. Depending on what they have going on there. I visited “Area 51” and got the heads up from the folks at the Little Alien Inn that I sort of already knew. As soon as we got within sight of the official gate, my sister and I turned around and went back figuring that was close enough to honestly say we’d been there. If it’s something particularly sensitive, the military considers the area well beyond the official perimeter their jurisdiction and that includes vantage points a great distance beyond. There are roving patrols and stationary listening posts in ravines and gulches you wouldn’t think a vehicle could go. Sometimes they’ll just give you the once over and drive on by but your presence has been noted and logged. Other times you’ll wind up playing 20 questions in the broiling sun or snow. Again I don’t know what’s behind that fence and I’m not that interested in finding out at the moment. Sometimes it’s for your own protection such as the Naval Artillery Range out around 29 Palms. A lot of unexploded ordnance goes off course and doesn’t detonate until some salvager tries to harvest it for scrap metal. Sometimes they find enough remains to fill a shoe box and return to the next of kin; sometimes they don’t. And in the case of many undocumented tourists from Mexico, they don’t even make the effort. Each place is different, but if there are signs saying: Use of deadly force authorized, best keep a safe distance.