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Believe It Or Not Once Had A Coast Guard Station

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Getty Images, J.D. Pooley

The image of a coast guard station usually brings to mind a port and several fast white boats with red stripes painted down their side. Maybe a heliport off to the side with an impressive machine ready to take to the skies with a daring rescue crew aboard.

So why did Campbell County Wyoming have a coast guard station? It was not located near any water. They didn’t have a helicopter or a boat. Not a single life vest is anywhere to be seen. you may think the five-member “crew” of this station must have felt foolish to call themselves Coast Guard. But they served a greater purpose.

You can use Google to zoom in on their old location at 1131 Clarkelen Road Gillette, WY 82718. There is not much there now but you can still see the footprint of the old towers.

Actually, many Western states had LORAN stations including South Dakota and Nebraska. You can pick any state and see if they had a coast guard station on the Coast Guard LORAN website. 

Wyoming’s Coast Guard station was classified as a  LORAN-C station. LORAN stands for  [Long-Range Navigation]. The tower from the station sent a beacon that, when synced with other LORAN beacons, helped ships to triangulate their location.

The job of the “crew” was to maintain the radio signal and beacon. The Wyoming LORAN signal reached from coast to coast, and aided ships on U.S. rivers and the in Great Lakes.

The station began operation in 1990. But soon after there was talk of shutting it down because of the invention of modern GPS [Global Positioning Satellites].

Wyoming’s only coast guard station was shut down in February of 2010, saving the coast guard $36 million a year.

Here is an old film posted on YouTube about how the Loran grid worked.

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