Just two miles north of a small town in Michigan called Reed City, is a small little airport named Nartron Field, or as it was originally called, Miller Field.
This abandoned airport's story begins in the 1940's with a man named James T. Miller. Mr. Miller moved to Reed City in 1945 to start a company called Miller Industries. Miller Industries manufactured aluminum storefronts. From opening day, Miller Industries boomed with business due to the thriving economy. It grew so quickly in fact, that by 1954, Mr. Miller decided that the best way to expand his business was to create a private airport for his company. By 1956, the airfield was finished, and was ready for it's grand opening.
The whole facility was complete with a 4,506 ft. runway and a 82 ft. x 160 ft. auditorium for company events.
An extremely detailed description of this facility is laid out by the wonderful folks over at Our Transport Heritage:
"The main hall was designed with a terrazzo floor, stage and state-of-the-art sound system. Also included for social functions were a cloak room, dressing rooms and an all aluminum 'dream kitchen'. The main hall was built to hold 1200 people. The building also contained legal and international offices as well as an art department. The control tower for the airport was located at the top as was radio, antenna and weather equipment. Hanger facilities were located about 100 yards from the main building. The main runway ... was [a] long paved strip. Another shorter paved runway intersected the main runway close to the main building and hanger. The entire facility encompassed about 350 acres and included a lake and a hydro-electric dam to provide power for the airport." (Our Transport Heritage, 2017)
During the early days of Miller Airport, a special event was held annually called "Dawn Patrol". Dawn Patrol was a gathering of airplane and aircraft enthusiasts. The first Dawn Patrol was held in 1955, and had an attendance of a staggering 346 planes, as well as 3,000 people. The first Dawn Patrol was so successful that the tradition carried on annually for the next 12 years straight. The following photo depicts visitors at one of these annual Dawn Patrols examining a C-47, a military transport aircraft.
By the 1960's, business had slowed down quite a bit. Mr. Miller had sold Miller Industries to the Olin Corporation in 1968. By 1979 the airport was sold to Norman Rautiola, a businessman who founded the Nartron Corporation, a maker of electronics. From then on, the facility was called Nartron Field, after the company who now owned it. For about 15 years, Nartron Corporation used the old air field as an office space, before moving to another location. By the late 1980's, all operations at Nartron Field had ceased, and the entire facility was doomed to waste away into an abandoned wonder.
The Forgotten Existence's time at this facility was an interesting one at best. There's not a whole lot left here. There's the auditorium, the runway, and an old warehouse that's still full of old equipment, tools, and even an old work truck.
The auditorium is a vast, empty expanse of concrete floors and glass walls. There is a main stage with curtains still hung, but nothing except fiberglass insulation and old wooden boards remains.
The warehouse however, was still full of old tools, equipment, and even an old work truck:
A view looking into the truck:
Towards the back of the warehouse were some old electrical panels, some old plywood, as well as a very neat old-fashioned looking door:
From here on out, we'll let the pictures do the talking. Enjoy the rest of our exploration of Nartron Field/Miller Airport:
We hope you enjoyed the history behind this old abandoned airport and learned something new! Until next time,