Boron Federal Prison: Abandoned Club Fed

 

At a remote desert site six miles north of Kramer Junction is a former military base and Federal Prison Camp, with an active FAA radar facility.

 

 

 

 

The prison, which closed in April 2000, was one of around 47 minimum security federal prison camps in the United States, and housed about 540 male inmates.

 

 

The view that inmates, visitors and guards saw as they entered Boron FPC, known as Club Fed.
Barracks became dormitories not cells.

Workers in the prison assembled parts for military vehicles and rebuilt forklifts for the Army. The boarded-up prison facility is located on the site of the old Boron Air Station.

 

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Also known as the Boron Air Force Radar Facility, it was managed by nearby Edwards Air Force Base, and consisted of several barracks and administration buildings spread out over a few hundred acres, with a large radar dome at the peak of the hill.

 

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The site started off as a USAF Air Control & Warning Radar station (basically, trying to detect, identify & track hostile bomber aircraft, and vector USAF Air Defense Command interceptors to get them) in the early 1950s, which included housing for staff and their families and remained operational until 1975.

 

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Most of the facility was later used by the Prison Camp. It had classrooms, dorms, work shops, law library, a fire department and a water treatment facility.  It even had a pool and racquet ball court.

 

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All that remains nowadays are the mutilated shells of buildings and abject destruction where imaginary zombies thrive.

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South Florida Sun Sentinel Fort Lauderdale, FL 10 June 1989
 
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However, the domed structure on the hill top is still in use by the FAA for aircraft flight tracking. With the present state of the world, it still serves an important function.

 

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Minimum-security institutions such as Boron are often referred to as country club prisons or Club Fed; officially they are categorized as Security Level No. 1 institutions, the least guarded in the federal prison system.

 

Reno Gazette Journal (Reno, Nevada), 25 Feb 1985.
John surveys the area. Compare it to the above newspaper photo.

There were only seven such facilities in the country, and Boron was the only self-contained Level 1 institution in California.

 

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The San Bernardino County Sun, 23 June 1987.
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“The prison had no walls, fences, bars, gun towers or guns.”

 

The San Bernardino Sun, 3 April 1981.
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The San Bernardino County Sun, 1 Feb 1981.
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Guards were nattily attired in gray slacks, powder-blue shirts, maroon ties and navy blazers.

 

Abandoned Guard Shack at the entrance.

Amenities included a swimming pool and two full-time recreation directors.

 

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Some inmates, who were allowed to leave the prison unescorted, spent their days working in nearby communities and their evenings umpiring games for the local Little League.

 

The Daily Spectrum (St. George, Utah) 1 Aug 1984.
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“Incarceration at the Federal Prison Camp at Boron is more a state of mind than a state of siege.”

 

One of the only things we spotted that was not vandalized was this beautiful, hand painted panel of boulders with a tribute to 20-mule Borax teams. Some museum needs to snap it up before it is destroyed or stolen. It is a genuine treasure among rubble.
The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Illinois) 7 Sept 1986.
The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Illinois) 7 Sept 1986.

 

“But escapes are rare because those who are caught face the most severe punishment the prison can impose. They are banished from the privileged environs of Boron and sent to a traditional prison. A prison without a salad bar in the chow hall. A prison without cable television.” 

 

But a few knuckleheads still couldn’t accept they had it so good…

 

 

The San Bernardino County Sun, 24 October 1979.
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The San Bernardino County Sun, 8 April 1986.
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Chicago Tribune, 10 Dec 1992.
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During an average weekday, the pace of the prison was sleepy, almost tranquil. Inmates were working or in class, and the grounds were nearly empty.

 

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The Los Angeles Times, 10 Jan 1988.
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But in the evening the prison came alive as the convicted embezzlers, drug dealers, bank robbers, tax evaders, pornographers and assorted swindlers spilled out of the chow hall and onto the grounds.

 

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The Los Angeles Times, 18 June 1987.

 

Inmates jogged around the softball field, just inside an off-limits sign. The shuffleboard league began the evening’s competition. The racquetball court was filled, and inmates lined up behind the gym for the traditional prison activity of building up bulk at the weight room.

 

 

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Pittsburgh Post Gazette (Pittsburgh PA), 8 Apr 1980

 

 

“Visitors arrived, many driving Cadillacs, Lincolns or Mercedes-Benzes. Some inmates in the visiting room skipped dinner because their wives and girlfriends had packed gourmet meals and then heated them in the microwave.”

 

 

Honolulu Star Bulletin, 31 Aug 1985.
 Note the water mister. Buildings were also kept comfortable by swamp coolers.
Los Angeles Times, 1 Nov 1988.
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The Daily Spectrum, St. George, Utah, 3 Jan 1989.
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FPC Boron closed in the year 2000, and the site –other than the Radar tower still operated by the FAA– has been vacant and abandoned ever since.

 

 

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During our research, we found some You Tube videos and articles from people who believe FPC Boron is being remodeled into a FEMA camp for nefarious purposes.  These photos should put their theories to rest.  Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

 

 

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Despite surveillance cameras, FPC Boron looks post-apocalyptic due to being heavily vandalized and looted. How ironic, considering law breakers were once incarcerated here.

 

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The prison’s Admin & Security Control structure has burned down to the ground. Another building on the grounds was also lost in a fire.

 

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Although we didn’t spot any “no trespassing” signs at the prison entrance, military personnel and police regularly train at the facility and can enforce trespassing, theft and vandalism laws on federal property.  The domed FAA radar tower is monitored by cameras and is strictly off-limits.

 

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The last view federal prisoners saw when they were transferred or released from Boron Federal Prison Camp.

 

 

Jaylyn

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comments
  • A very interesting and informative article. Wonderfull photography.

  • Do you have non-photoshopped pictures still?

  • Great Photos & great articles!! Thank you for putting this together.
    Great Work Man!!

  • I learned of this place just last week as I was passing thru the Mojave Desert on my way back to Wyoming. My father worked for the US Federal Prison System when I was growing up. Our family was once assigned to the minimum security prison on Maxwell AFB Alabama during the 1970’s. It was certainly more a “club” than a prison. I worked at Edwards AFB in the early 90’s and I never knew this place existed. I enjoyed an afternoon visit to the grounds. Thankfully my father was never assigned to this facility. However, as a kid who loved adventure, it might have been a really cool place to spend a number of childhood years. Thanks for the article.

  • Interesting. Did you come across any information about the escape in October, 1999, of Hector Francisco Molina, who was recaptured in October, 2017, in El Paso, and within a few days released (he had about 6 years to go on his sentence).

  • I was previously unfamiliar with this facility. That is, until earlier today when I chanced upon a YouTube video that had been filmed at BFP. That video sparked an interest which in turn sparked a Google search. All of which led me here to your informative and visually stimulating pictorial submission. Kudos, J & J! You guys knocked it out of the park! I loved the way you interspersed the pictures with news clippings and personal descriptions. Thank you for this effort!

  • Thanks for the pictures. I was stationed there in 1971, radar maintenance in the FPS-26 height finder radar tower as a young GI. I have to admit I didn’t much care for the place, being young and single. Even to see a movie we had to go to Edwards AFB. A shame about the damage done by idiots. Next time in Southern CA will go out and see my old barracks. Thanks again for the pictures and story.

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