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Dugway Proving Ground National Park
Dugway Proving Ground

Or: by an Act of Congress, Dugway Proving Ground gets transferred from the Department of Defense to the National Park Service.

Landscape architects are hired to turn the site as open and occupiable as all the other parks under the care of the NPS. Because why bar humanity for thousands of years from visiting the place when it can offer new ways of experiencing landscapes?

So they, i.e., the landscape architects, set out do what they do: master planning for uses, choreographing circulation, stagecrafting experiences, preservation, etc. Meanwhile, the CDC concocts treatments for Ebola, Avian flu, smallpox and all other bioweapons the U.S. military had played around with at Dugway.

Soon the first visitors arrive.

They swallow the pills and are immunized.

After a waiting period of a few minutes for the drug to take effect, they then set off on foot, backpacking from one square to another square, from one circle to another, tracing arcs, diameters and circumferences, each and every geometry carefully measured and inscribed on the parched Nevada landscape.

Sure enough, red marks begin to appear on their skin, turning blue, then to black. Cutaneous necropsy. Trigonometry has infected you with a plague. Maybe it's anthrax.

Meanwhile, you are inspecting some angles, their hypotenuse pointing NNE towards some distant, rock-strewn hills. A fog rolls in from aerosol fountains, then evaporates. Seconds later, your lymph nodes begin to swell and a rash starts to spread from your crotch.

But you worry not. It's all part of the tour: a fantastic voyage into militarized infection, from the initial cough to nose bleeds to coma to fully restored health.

Triangles wedged in squares contaminated with rabies. Parabolas atop rectangles imprinted on marked contour lines smeared with typhoid. Radiating circles traversed by empathic diagonals injected with cholera.

There won't be any baby sneezes or sunburns or watery eyes or any of the allergic sort. Because after all, this is not Yellowstone, and you're certainly not on the beach. Camping here aren't made memorable with the mere brush up with poison ivy. That headache isn't caused by altitude sickness. It's something more terrifying, more sublime, more marvelous.

And so with your first contagion cured, you go explore another part of the park. Wide airport runways, a whole series of them, their perfectly straight chalked edges extending far to meet the horizon.

“What superlative surveying techniques,” you shout, perhaps quoting Maria Reiche, and all the while every orifice in your body begins to ooze with blood.

“This is going to be another awesome hike!”
1 COMMENT —
  • Anonymous
  • July 26, 2008 at 7:25:00 PM CDT
  • Dugway does not test defenses against ebola, because that is a Biosafety Level 4 agent. Dugway is only allowed -- by state and federal inspectors -- to test defenses against BSL 3 agents, which are those agents for which there is a cure or vaccine.
    But all testing is done indoors, in multiple layered chambers. All testing is approved by state and federal agencies before it begins.
    The photo you display is of a smoke generator test conducted in the 1980s. Because of its remoteness, Dugway is ideal to test smokes and obscurants that are used to mask U.S. troop movements from the enemy.
    No actual agents are used in outdoor tests. Instead, benign simulants are used in accordance with international treaties.


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