Area 51 is one of the most notorious places in the United States. Renowned for its relationship to outer space and the military, the area is often claimed to be hiding a whole load of extraterrestrial secrets. While the rumors circling the area have never been confirmed, Area 51 is so deeply connected to its recent history that to think that it could be housing anything other than extraterrestrial life seems absurd. When did the place get like this, though? Once upon a time, Area 51 was simply a deserted area of scrubland and before it became the hub of suspicion it is today, the place had a very different purpose.
Back in the 1800s, the area on which the military base was a popular mining community. Societies in surrounding cities like Rachel, Nevada, were known for their work in the salt trade, working off the land in order to make a living. By the time the 20th century rolled around, the region was flourishing, producing a booming industry that supported thousands of people every year.
The huge changes of the 20th century, however, saw the area of desert undergo a few major changes. In order to provide training spaces for the growing U.S. military, patches of desert were turned into functioning bases. Although reports of activity during World War II are rarely documented, there is evidence to suggest the first Air Force Base was developed somewhere in the area in 1942. The desert land proved to be perfect terrain for bombing and artillery practice, giving recruits ample space in which to perfect their skills.
After World War II, of course, everything was destined to change. In the height of the Cold War era, the desert space was officially established in conjunction with Nevada Test Sites, an area of nuclear weapon testing. While information on the formation of the site is murky, evidence has suggested that Area 51 came about in order to push science further than the Soviet Union. During the midst of the war, the CIA began a top secret aircraft project, using the natural salt lake as a landing field.
From that point on, aircraft seemed to be the name of the game for Area 51. Set up to study, develop and test new aircraft, Area 51 became wrapped up in all things military, pushing inventions further than ever before. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the area became linked to alien conspiracy theories. Thanks to the Vietnam war, the public began to distrust the government and although they claimed to be using the region to test warplanes, many people believed the story was simply a ruse.
Becoming increasingly embroiled in top secret military activity, Area 51 is a region that lends itself well to conspiracy. While the region might never outrun the supposed events in its past, it wasn’t always such a strange place to be.