We are all about for sale listings that allow civilians to turn tactical into practical. From air defense bunkers to satellite communications installations, there are some bizarrely awesome opportunities for creative property investors looking to turn someone or some organization's product of extremely expensive mission requirements into something else entirely for pennies on the dollar. But usually, when defense-related installations and facilities go up for sale, we know the owner. That's doesn't appear to be the case for this mysterious, but awesome piece of property for sale that is located just 10 miles east of Savannah, Tennessee—one that appears equally suited for becoming a private lair or for training a mercenary strike force.
Our good friend and contributor Matt Hartman of Shorealone Films spotted the $8,650,000 listing and sent it our way. Wilks Ranch Brokers of Texas is representing the seller of the 6,200-acre property that includes a somewhat peculiar airfield at its apex, one that is complete with an air traffic control tower and two relatively large hangars. The airstrip is also remarkably wide for its length.
The listing reads in part:
Highly improved recreational ranch with private airfield, excellent interior roads, live streams, timber, and a large abundance of wildlife. Paved road access and some paved private interior roads. Estimated over $1,000,000 spent in private ranch road network.
2,300 x 100+/- airstrip with a control tower and two hangars.
Two very nice metal insulated hangars each one is 3,500 +/- square feet.
Four nicer modular buildings on property.
Large double- winged equipment shed with central insulated shop and office quarters.
Fiber optic line had been laid to the interior of the ranch.
4 large, high- elevation observation tower stations scattered throughout the ranch provide magnificent views of both landscape and wildlife.
Over 10.5 miles of engineered high- grade all- weather private roads, some of which are paved. Many more miles of natural base interior roads traverse off the main roads, completing a network to which very few other ranches would compare. With no public roads/access through the heart of the ranch, this provides a very unique, large private setting. The infrastructure improvements including the roads and runway were constructed in 2010. All other improvements on the property were constructed from 2011 to 2012.
Water is in abundance with several ponds and streams, including some live streams. The topographic changes throughout the ranch provide many conducive lake site potentials. Water wells provide water to the newer structures. Elevation changes from the peaks of many large hills overlooking vast areas down to numerous creek bottoms. Although there are large draws and big hills, the topsoil is considerably good throughout the elevation changes, which provides excellent growth across the ranch.
3,000 +/- acres of pine timber varying from 8 to 11 years old.
2,500 +/- acres of hardwood timber varying from young to older mature trees.
350 +/- acres of rolling pasture grass fields.
Hunting has not been allowed on this ranch for many years. Such a large contiguous block of desirable natural habitat for wildlife without historical hunting pressure is very hard to find. Wildlife is easily viewed from vehicles while driving around the ranch. Morning and evening daylight hours produce consistent viewing of deer and turkey out in the roads. As an example, all the pictures and video of deer where taken one evening over approximately an hour, from a vehicle, while on the ranch. Although wooded now, there are many acres of historical fields on the ranch that could be put back to use for wildlife or commercial farming. The infrastructure, habitat, and wildlife are in place to be utilized as a top end hunting retreat.
Check out the video tour and images below:
Yeah, I know what you are thinking, we are thinking the same—"what the heck is this place?"
It does seem like some sort of government-related installation. There are some odd features seen in satellite images that are not discussed in the listing, one of which looks like a small military operations in urban terrain (MOUT) training site and test area. There is no lodge or luxury accommodations, either. This wasn't some entertainment getaway for a rich person.
Yet the airfield is most curious of all. It has a control tower and a very wide runway, two things not commonly found at small private airstrips. Making things even weirder, it doesn't show up on the VFR map and the runway has no markings whatsoever. That is a lot of trouble to go through building something like this not to have it registered with the FAA.
So, was this some sort of training and test base for certain three-letter agencies and other security forces? Or at least, was it meant to be?
We don't know for sure at this time, but we reached out to the listing agent to see if we could get more information and we will update this post if indeed we do.
What we do know is that this is one hell of a dream property for someone. It looks absolutely gorgeous in the images posted and the fact that it just a short drive from a decent sized town is really an amazing plus.
So, if you are comfortable with blowing a cool eight and a half million bucks and always wanted your own commando mountain hideaway and/or training camp, and also have a place to store your light air force, this may be just the opportunity you have been looking for!
UPDATE: 12/23/2019 10:20pm PST —
We have some great new information about the history of this place. According to multiple sources including one that says he worked there, the installation was owned and developed by the ISR Group, which had its primary business location in nearby Savannah. It primarily focused on Group 2 and Group 3 drone testing and training. The MOUT facility was used for these purposes as well—to leverage the drones' capabilities over urban-like terrain.
A previous listing for the property gives details about its unmanned aircraft testing capabilities:
On section has a chert base with a limestone layer and a tar coating on top totaling 2.8 miles. Another section has the chert base with limestone layer on top totaling 1.9 miles. The rest of the roads have the chert base totaling 5.74 miles. All sections of the road have an average of about 30-40 feet of clear right of way on each side.
The center of the property was the focal point of the operation and is improved with a 2,300 x 100 runway with an 8 x 20 control tower surrounded by barbed-wire fencing, two 3,600 square foot hangers with 20 ceilings and two 24 x 68 manufactured-home classrooms. This area was used for Group 3 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The hangars were for storage of these aircrafts. The runway has 10 inches of gravel surface. To the south of the runway is an area that includes the facilities maintenance improvements, which include a two 24 x 68 manufactured home office buildings and a 7,200 square foot equipment shelter with 1,200 square feet of enclosed space.
Further to the south is a portion of the subject known as the south site testing area and is improved with a mock compound that was used for staged drone operations. This site was used for Group 2 UAVs. It has concrete block walls with razor wire on the top. Inside are 6 connex boxes that were used for the storage of equipment and control stations. Outside it has three 30 x 30 concrete pads that was used for the equipment needed to launch and recover the aircraft. Equipment was run on generators. Toward southeastern most portion of the property is another area improved with another mock compound used for staged drone operations. This facility was used strictly for training purposes. It gave the operators a visual on what they may encounter on an overseas mission. The structure is shipping containers stacked together in the form of a small town. There are approximately 20 of these containers. Also, next to the site is an OP tower. This is an observation post where an employee would monitor the aircraft movement. There are 4 of these structures on the property.
They are 30 tall and are wooden. The area to the north known as the north site was used to launch and land UAVs. There are no existing improvements in this area.
One of our commenters stated the following in our discussion area below that matches this information:
I worked here one summer. The company was called ISR and was for Field Service Drone Pilot training on mainly the Scan Eagle platform. This was the field training simulator... The runway was for a Tiger Shark UAV that they trained with at one time. Nice and quiet out there.
There is also this article, which dates back to 2013, before the runway facilities were constructed. It is not clear exactly if the proposed relationships remained intact, but it directly supports the supposed impetus behind the facility as discussed above.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com