Shrouded in secrecy and located just a few miles east of the Hampton’s mega mansions and charming lobster stands — Camp Hero has long been the focus of a popular conspiracy theory known as the ‘Montauk Project’ that has become the inspiration behind the hit Netflix series, Stranger Things.
Today, the decommissioned military base is still home to a rambling complex of secret underground tunnels and bunkers where sinister government experiments involving mind control, child abduction, hallucinogenic drug tests, time travel, and psychological warfare were alleged to have taken place by former Nazi scientists after the war and until its closing in 1981.
The crux of Stranger Things centers on mind altering experiments being carried out on gifted children in a top secret government facility known Hawkins Lab and an ultimate showdown with a monster in a parallel universe known as ‘the Upside Down.’
Dubbed the ‘Area 51’ of the East Coast, the far Eastern tip of Long Island has long been dogged by rumors of sadistic government sanctioned studies in psychological and biological warfare.
Sitting just a stones throw away from Camp Hero in the middle of the Long Island Sound is the top-secret Plum Island Animal Disease Center where US intelligence allegedly conducted highly classified biological weapon research at the height of the Cold War.
The island remains heavily fortified and strictly off limits to the public today.
A former military based known as Camp Hero, located in Montauk has long been the focus of a conspiracy theory known as the ‘Montauk Project’ which alleges that the government conducted experiments involving mind control, child abduction, hallucinogenic drug tests, time travel, and psychological warfare in the wake of WWII. The base has become the inspiration behind the hit Netflix series, Stranger Things, which follows a gifted teenager (played by Millie Bobby Brown) who escapes from a government lab
Today, a large portion of the decommissioned military base is used as a public state park except for closed off areas that are strictly forbidden and still under the control of the federal government. Sitting beneath the public park is a sinister underground laboratory known as the East Coast’s ‘Area 51’ and is the alleged location where sadistic mind control experiments were conducted on runaway teens and homeless people
The Montauk Project conspiracy gained footing in the 1990s when a man named Preston Nichols came forward with a book detailing mind-melding work at Camp Hero. He claimed that he worked on something called the ‘Montauk Chair’ which was a piece of furniture that used electromagnetics to amplify psychic powers, similar to that used by Eleven in Stranger Things (above)
Shrouded in secrecy and located just a few miles east of the Hampton’s mega mansions and charming lobster stands, Camp Hero is the former military base where the US government allegedly conducted experiments in mind control, child abduction, hallucinogenic drug tests, time travel, and psychological warfare
The area gained national interest in July 2008 when locals of the sleepy beachside community in Montauk were shaken by the heart stopping discovery of a bloated and bloodless, unidentifiable carcass that had washed up on the shores of Ditch Plains, a popular surfing beach on the Long Island peninsula.
It was dubbed ‘the Montauk Monster’ and into that abyss came a litany of conspiracy theories that followed.
Was it a washed up dead Pitbull or skinned racoon? The beast was found with strange bindings around its legs, and its peculiar beak-like snout with articulated fingers immediately precluded it from having canine, feline or bovine origins.
Was it a bizarre marketing ploy for something? — Or was it another experiment gone wrong from the shadowy government testing facility nearby known as Camp Hero?
How Camp Hero recruited Nazi scientists after WWII to run experiments in psychological warfare and time travel
Constructed in the wake of Pearl Harbor, Camp Hero was a military base designed to look like a Cape Cod fishing village in hopes of outsmarting overhead enemies while protecting the Eastern seaboard.
Brutalist concrete structures were painted with fake siding and windows to resemble quaint cottages, with an entire make-believe ‘downtown’ area that included a gymnasium, bowling alley and a New England-style church complete with a steeple. The ruins (in various stages of decay) are still on view to trespassers and urban explorers today.
The base was handed over to the US Air Force in 1951 and officially decommissioned in 1981.
Today, large swaths of the former base have been turned into Camp Hero State Park, a popular destination hiking spot known for its stunning bluffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
But it is the strictly verboten areas guarded by chain-link and barbed wire that continue to fascinate with its dark and mysterious past.
Sitting beneath 755 acres of public park is a sinister underground laboratory known as the East Coast’s ‘Area 51.’
It all began at the start of World War II, fueled by the suspicion that Nazi Germany had conducted research in extra-terrestrial quantum physics. The race was on to fortify Allied intel.
Though much of the Philadelphia Experiment has been debunked, what is true is that towards the end of World War II, US intelligence embarked on an aggressive program to recruit as many Nazi scientists as possible before they fell into the hands of the Soviet Union.
Known as ‘Operation Paperclip, over 1,500 captured Nazi scientists were secretly hired and shipped to the US to work on a wide range of top secret government projects.
One of the most famous scientists smuggled out of Germany was Werner von Braun, the head architect of Germany’s lethal V-2 rocket program, who would go on to design the Saturn V rocket that propelled the Apollo missions to the Moon.
How the Camp Hero conspiracy theory intersects with the fabled ‘Philadelphia Experiment’
Stories about the Montauk Project have been circulating since the early 1980s and the allegations described are rumored to be an extension of the better known conspiracy theory called, ‘the Philadelphia Experiment’ which focuses on the US Navy’s project to manipulate powerful electromagnetic fields aboard the USS Eldridge to render the ship ‘invisible’ to enemy devices.
On October 28, 1943, the Philadelphia Experiment claimed that an entire Navy ship was rendered invisible with dire consequences to those working on board.
‘Witnesses claim an eerie green-blue glow surrounded the hull of the ship as her generators spun up and then, suddenly, the Eldridge disappeared. The ship was then seen in Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia before disappearing again and reappearing back in Philadelphia,’ said an article from Military.com.
One such person on board was a man named Al Bielek who claimed he went with the shop through a time wormhole into the future and ended up at Montauk’s Camp Hero in 1983, where he continued to work with the government on building portals into the future.
After scouting a few locations, the US military found that the radar frequency at Camp Hero’s exact coordinates would be the most favorable for conducting research in time travel, mind control, remote viewing, phycological warfare and teleportation.
It is claimed that Albert Einstein himself secretly supervised these experiments. And according to some people, these studies did not end after the war.
The rumors gained traction in 1992 when a book titled ‘The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time,’ published by a man named Preston Nichols said he recovered repressed memories of his stint as a human guinea pig in Nazi-style experiments that genetically and psychologically meddled with kidnapped local boys from Montauk.
Lending credibility to Nichol’s outrageous claims is the well documented CIA-led program known as MK Ultra that studied mind control and used numerous methods to manipulate mental states through the use of hallucinogens, electroshock, sensory deprivation, verbal and sexual abuse between the 1950s-70s.
In his book, Nichols said that victims at Camp Hero were waterboarded and subject to gruesome sexual and physical abuse in an attempt to break down the children.
He also claimed that the experiments came to an end when he and a few others rebelled and destroyed all of the equipment and says that those who were involved in these events have had their memories wiped.
The allegations were mind blowing but soon others purportedly involved with the Montauk Project came forward to corroborate some of Nichols’ story.
Most of the scrutiny at Camp Hero focuses on the enormous radar station, which according to Nichols, is comprised of twelve levels of underground structures hidden beneath the station where the government developed psychological warfare techniques using electromagnetic radiation on homeless people and runaway teenagers, known as ‘the Montauk Boys’ that ranged from mind control to psychic abilities and even time travel.
It was this mysterious forsaken base would provide the inspiration for Netflix’s, Stranger Things.
Although ‘The Montauk Project’ and its wild assertions of time travel and alien interactions has been widely debunked as science fiction, there is some credible evidence that lends itself to claims of a secret subterranean facility.
A suspicious 40-foot radar and how the US government refuses to acknowledge evidence of a subterranean facility
According to paperwork from 1984 when Camp Hero’s deed was handed over to the state as parkland, the rules stipulated that New York State would own everything on the surface of the base, while explicitly stating that the government retained ‘ownership of everything below the surface’ — further indicating that indeed, there is a larger, secret installation lying beneath the popular public park today.
Built at the height of the Cold War in 1958, Camp Hero’s enormous radar was part of America’s ‘Semi-Automatic Ground Environment’ (SAGE) defense network, designed to detect a surprise attack by Soviet missile bombers.
Akin to Israel’s ‘Iron Dome,’ the giant antenna would signal a thirty minute warning in the event of a nuclear attack. The radar would then activate the Nike missile project (developed by Bell Telephone Laboratories) that was situated in cannons located along the coastlines of America’s most important strategic cities.
There were 19 heavily guarded Nike missile batteries in New York City alone as part of what the US Army called a ‘Ring of Supersonic Steel.’
Meanwhile, the imposing antennae at Camp Hero has raised suspicion as far back as to when it was first constructed. Its frequency goes up to 425MHz, which is also the frequency allegedly needed to enter human consciousness, and many nearby residents reported suffering from severe headaches over the years.
Of the 12 such similar towers that were once scattered around the country, Camp Hero’s is the only one that remains standing and it is listed as a National Historic Site. The 90-foot-tall concrete tower plus 40-foot-wide steel dish is visible for miles and is instantly recognizable Long Island landmark; and although it is no longer active, that doesn’t keep the dish from mysteriously changing positions.
One local named Paul Fagan, spent 14 years researching Camp Hero and painstakingly sifting through government documents at the National Archives in Manhattan.
He told the New York Post that there may be a nuclear reactor secretly buried at the site, leftover from the Cold War-era Nuclear Power Program which explains the secrecy behind the underground facility — he suspects that the conspiracy theories about Camp Hero may have been planted to deflect attention from the possible reactor.
Filmmaker Chris Garetano, who grew up in the area, has been obsessed with the theories since he was a child.
In 2017, he teamed up with former CIA operative Barry Eisler and award-winning journalist Steve Volk, to explore the conspiracies and accusations that surround Camp Hero in a History Channel documentary called ‘The Dark Files.’
For Garetano, it was a journey he wanted to embark on since he was a kid hearing the rumors about the military base.
‘I started hearing these strange and bizarre stories about Montauk, things that were not normal,’ he said in the documentary, explaining his desire to make the film.
‘Every 12 seconds the radar would rotate and there would be animals freaking out and people getting headaches and bad dreams.
‘People’s electrical devices would go haywire, there would be covert military vans and helicopters zipping around the perimeter.’
In 2017, one local man named Chris Garetano teamed up with a former CIA operative and award-winning journalist to investigate the conspiracies surrounding Camp Hero for a History Channel documentary. In his research, he discovered that there is no mention of the subterranean tunnels and underground chambers in the official government blueprints of the facility – despite there being concrete evidence of their whereabouts made by urban explorers
The Montauk Project conspiracy focuses primarily on the enormous radar that towers over other abandoned buildings on the former military base. Built in 1958 at the height of the Cold War, the radar would signal a thirty minute warning in the event of a nuclear attack. Because it emitted a 425MHz frequency, the antenna would often interfere with television and radio programs in the homes of nearby residents, who also complained of constant headaches. It is the same frequency allegedly needed to enter human consciousness
Lending some credence to claims of a top secret subterranean facility beneath the park is the official paperwork from the 1984 deed that stipulated New York State would own everything on the surface of the base (what is today the public park), while the government retained ‘ownership of everything below the surface’ –further indicating a larger facility lying hidden beneath
‘The Montauk Boys’: How the government allegedly recruited local runaways to conduct experiments in mind control, time travel, and psychological warfare
Throughout his research, Garetano met two men who claimed to have been the subject of experiments, as well as a scientist who claimed to work there.
A man who goes by the alias ‘James Bruce’ – because he fears the ‘powers that be’ – says he was force fed hallucinogenic drugs as a teenager in the so-called ‘acid room.’
He told Garetano: ‘There were experiments to mind squash because they have specific types of acid where you could read each other’s thoughts.
‘They wanted me to teleport in this chair because it’s a teleportation device. It rips your soul right out of your body and send it through the wire then you’re flying through space.’
Stewart Swerdlow claimed that he was regularly abducted for the Montauk Project in 1970, when he was 13-years-old.
He told the Sun: ‘They used derelicts, foster children and drug addicts and then ultimately they decided that people with certain genetics, people with certain backgrounds were conducive to the more advanced experiments and that’s when I was taken in.
‘With all of these children their memories were wiped, their genetics were altered and they couldn’t always remember what happened. It would be in the form of nightmares or flashbacks.
‘But with me, they could not erase my memory. I became an anomaly for them.’
‘I witnessed children being beaten, murdered, injured in horrible ways. I was also the subject of some of these horrible things.
‘It was a continuation on the experiments that the Nazi’s carried out in concentration camps.
‘The ultimate goal was for global mind control and program, to have a robotic borg-type population who does what they want to.’
Just like in Stranger Things, he said he went missing from his bedroom but, questioned by Steve Volk, he claimed his parents were ‘brainwashed’ not to call the police.
‘There were times when they came into my room and I wasn’t there.
‘There was some sort of dampening field put on the people in the house so that they didn’t question what they saw. It was a normal occurrence to them.’
CIA expert Barry Eisler dismissed the theory of a ‘dampening field’ in the doc, saying, ‘There’s some way out stuff the CIA do but I’ve never heard about a dampening field.’
Fueling further suspicion is the close proximity of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center where US intelligence allegedly conducted highly classified biological weapon research at the height of the Cold War. The island, a mere stones throw from Camp Hero, remains heavily fortified and strictly off limits to the public today
Much of the Project Montauk conspiracy focuses on the enormous antenna at the center of the abandoned military base. Filmmaker Chris Garetano said that when the radar was still in operation, local residents would complain of migraines and that it would interfere with their television sets and radio programs. ‘Every 12 seconds the radar would rotate and there would be animals freaking out and people getting headaches and bad dreams.’ He added: ‘People’s electrical devices would go haywire, there would be covert military vans and helicopters zipping around the perimeter’
Despite its sinister reputation, Camp Hero State Park, located on the tip of Long Island is commonly known for its hiking trails, the stunning vistas overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, its view of the Montauk lighthouse. Visitors are encouraged to walk the trails, despite the foreboding ‘off-limits’ warning signs throughout the park’s abandoned, fenced off buildings
Garetano also looked into reports that a series of secret underground chambers or tunnels lay beneath the radar – despite official blueprints showing nothing underneath.
This did lead to some compelling evidence backed up by a local explorer named Brian Minnick, who said he had been climbing over the facility’s fence for 30 years.
Minnick revealed footage of underground chambers and told them he had found evidence that many people were based there, way past the date of the official closure.
‘There are a lot of strange things and the sum total is compelling,’ Minnick said. ‘We found records of food being ordered to the camp in the late eighties. $80,000 a month. Huge amounts of food to the base.’
Minnick also claimed he had discovered an underground tunnel which was capped at the end with a ‘heavy door, and it has a heavy wheel, like a bank vault.’
He also showed the team pictures of the so called ‘acid rooms’ – with walls painted in psychedelic colors.
Joe Loffreno is another local who now works as a parks employee at Camp Hero and claims that he was one of the tormented and abused ‘Montauk Boys’ publicized in Nichols’ book.
He told the New York Post in 2020: ‘I didn’t believe it until two years ago. I was hypnotized for about 40 minutes and all these memories flooded back.
‘They did a very bad thing to us out there. We were just little kids. They had no right to experiment on us. It was a very dark, very evil thing.’
He believes he was abducted and abused around the age of 12 and 13 during the summer of 1980 and possibly during the summer of 1981. Under hypnosis conducted by a certified practitioner, he recalled that a local boy, not well known to his friends, invited him to bike to the base.
The first time, Loffreno said, there were two men dressed in civilian clothes, who ushered the them into a sunken house on the base. Later he said they were joined by a larger group of kids and brought underground through Battery 113, one of the sealed gunneries left from World War II.
He recalls lying on a table attached to electrode wires: ‘They analyzed us like animals.’ He claims that there were as many as 50 other children in the facility and believes that some of them might have later been killed.
Whether there is truth behind the Montauk Project conspiracy, one thing is certain: the cultural impact its had on society is unbeatable.
In Stranger Things, Eleven is able to manifest objects just by thinking about them when she’s hooked up to electrical diodes. The premise is similar to what Preston Nichols described as the ‘Montauk Chair’ which he said was used in experiments to magnify psychic powers
Suspicion in the area gained national interest in July 2008 when locals a bloated and bloodless, unidentifiable carcass that had washed up on the shores of Ditch Plains, a popular surfing beach. It was dubbed ‘the Montauk Monster’ and was never properly identified before it suddenly went missing. The beast was found with strange bindings around its legs and Zoologists said its strange beak-like snout with articulated fingers precluded it from having canine, feline or bovine origins. It remains a mystery to this day, though some speculate it escaped from Camp Hero, or the nearby Plum Island Animal Disease Center
The crux of Stranger Things centers on strange experiments being carried out on gifted children in a top secret government facility known Hawkins Lab and an ultimate showdown with a monster in a parallel universe known as ‘the Upside Down’
Stranger Things follows a group of teenagers fighting for their lives as one of the main characters Eleven (portrayed by Millie Bobby Brown) escapes from a government lab that studies mind control and alternate universes