In a short article published by the Center for Land Use Interpretation, we read about “a rare example of a simulated hostile nation on American soil, open to the public.”
This “drive-thru enemy landscape” is in the Dixie Valley of Nevada.
[Image: Center for Land Use Interpretation; note the tank].
After a long series of complicated land deals, the U.S. Navy “began burning down the homesteads it bought, replacing them with Soviet radar and military equipment to simulate an enemy landscape.”
Because the Valley is still open to “transit by the public,” it currently serves as a kind of “open air gallery of active warfare props,” complete with a few old homestead buildings “left to be used as visual targets, mak[ing] for a mise en scene that resembles the surrealist renderings of Dalí and de Chirico”:
But while Dixie Valley may be “a rare example” of such a landscape, it is not unique: there is also the so-called German Village in Utah’s Dugway Proving Ground.
[Image: The remnants of German Village in 1998, taken by CLUI/Mike Davis].
As Mike Davis writes, “‘German Village,’ as it is officially labeled on declassified maps of the US Army’s Dugway Proving Ground, is the remnant of a much larger, composite German/Japanese ‘doomtown’ constructed by Standard Oil in 1943.” That same year, “the Chemical Warfare Corps secretly recruited [architect Erich] Mendelsohn to work with Standard Oil engineers and RKO set designers to create a miniature Hohenzollern slum in the Utah desert.”
Hollywood + European Modernism = Enemy Faux-Urbanism.
“Dugway, it should be pointed out,” Davis says, “is slightly bigger than Rhode Island and more toxically contaminated than the Nuclear Test Site in nearby Nevada.”
In any case, German Village was built to be destroyed, as its exact and to-scale replicas of Berlin architecture – down to precise materials – could be tested for flammability. How architecture reacts to bombs.
German Village, in other words, was another “simulated hostile nation on American soil.”