(Author unknown; image via Air-Attack)
The western United States is famous for abandoned mines and ghost towns from the 19th century gold rush. But this slice of Old West history is notable for a number of reasons: firstly, it continues to operate when so many of its contemporaries have closed; secondly, it overlooks the top secret Groom Lake test site, known to the world as Area 51.
Despite the fame and notoriety associated with the nearby military installation, Groom Mine occupied the land generations before, and has been owned and operated by the Sheahan family since 1885. (Groom mine can be found north east of the dry lake.)
Groom Lake in its secret military capacity was founded in April 1955 when test pilot Tony LeVier – who was scouting the region from the air in a bid to find a secure location to test the Lockheed U-2 spyplane – brought it to the attention of Skunk Works boss “Kelly” Johnson. Since then, the Groom Lake region of Area 51 has become the US Air Force and DARPA‘s most highly classified test site for top secret aircraft and weapons systems.