Johnston Atoll, which consists of “four small man-made islands enclosed in an egg-shaped reef approximately 21 miles in circumference,” located 718 miles from Hawaii, is for sale.
The current owner, however – the wonderfully named U.S. Office of Property Disposal – wonders if potential buyers might be “unaware that all buildings had been removed” from the island, and that “there were no functioning utilities or water supply, the runway was iffy, the golf course disintegrated, the seawall containing the nuclear waste dump was insufficient, and that nearest services of any kind are over 700 miles away.”
If you purchase the island despite all that, your land deed “will contain use restrictions because the atoll was used by the Defense Department for storage of chemical munitions and as a missile test site in the 1950’s and 60’s. The island can be used as a residence or vacation getaway” – but “the airstrip and the golf course are closed.”
Today, the Center for Land Use Interpretation tells us, Johnston Atoll is nothing but “a scab of concrete, slowly being covered in bird droppings.”
Meanwhile, the atoll’s history as a U.S. nuclear test-site is fascinating: “In 1962,” CLUI continues, “Johnston was used for a series of nuclear tests as part of Operation Dominic, which included the only U.S. test of an operational ballistic missile with a live warhead. For this test a Polaris missile was launched from a submarine, and traveled 1200 miles through space and the atmosphere, until detonating 11,000 feet above the ocean near Johnston. Also that year, the newly constructed rocket launch pad at Johnston was used for a number of extremely high altitude nuclear tests. On June 20, during ‘Starfish,’ the Thor rocket engine cut out a minute after launch, and the missile was intentionally destroyed, at 30,000 feet. Large pieces of the rocket, including some plutonium–contaminated wreckage, rained down on the atoll.”
And so forth.
If you buy the island, of course, let me know…
(With images from CLUI – and with huge thanks to Mark, who recently tipped me on the island’s existence. For more info, there is also this Wikipedia article. And if you’re in the market for other strange real estate, consider purchasing this subterranean bunker-city).
[Note: Apparently, Johnston Atoll was never for sale. The advertisement claiming otherwise was accidentally put onlin e and then picked up by search engines. Alas…]