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More explosives found near Camp Hale

Cliff Thompson

The latest find – destroyed Tuesday by explosives experts -was a 3-inch artillery round found in the Tennessee Pass area. It was found by a resident of a nearby subdivision, which is located near an area formerly used for artillery training. The round is believed to be left over from military training maneuvers more than 60 years ago.

More troubling to the Army Corps of Engineers crews tasked with cleaning up the old 10th Mountain Division training base is the fact that the live round appears to have been moved and the detonating fuse removed.

“It’s been some time since that thing got there and it looks like someone unscrewed and removed the fuse,” said Jim Moore of the Army Corps. “There were some clean threads on it.”



That’s unsettling to munitions experts because the explosive fuse itself can prove deadly, particularly in untrained hands.

Last summer, the Army Corps spent nearly $2 million sweeping 3,000 acres of the East Fork portion of Camp Hale that the Forest Service closed after multiple munitions were found by recreational users of the area.



Search teams last summer found and destroyed rifle grenades, mortar shells, 57-millimeter recoilless rifle shells, 105-millimeter howitzer shells, illumination rounds and anti-tank land mines. One in 10 explosive projectiles used in World War II and in training were duds, but research shows there were 20 different firing ranges in Camp Hale.

Many of the munitions used at Camp Hale were buried in the earth and are just now being brought to the surface by freeze and thaw cycles.

Camp Hale is 250,000 acres in size – 390 square miles – and was used as a training base by up to 15,000 members of the famed 10th Mountain Division and other military units from 1941 to 1965, when it was deeded to the Forest Service. It has since become a popular recreation area with several campgrounds and trails



The find last week is another in what the Army Corps expects there will be many more.

“It’s a reminder that we need to be conscious that there is a lot of public exposure there,” said Moore. “There are people out there all the time.”

If you encounter something that looks like it may be military material, note the location, don’t touch it and call the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office at 328-8500.

Cliff Thompson can be reached at 970-949-0555 x450 or cthompson@vaildaily.com


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