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Picture of an operating room.
Whatever happened to our emergency hospital from 50 years ago? Is it still there? Let us know!

History Mystery #88: The Case of the Missing Hospital

Submitted by Debby Carter, SHSA Librarian (Fresno Flats)

MOUNTAIN AREA — An article on the front page of the October 29, 1970, Sierra Star reads: “Bass Lake Receives 200 Bed Hospital: On Tuesday, Oct. 27, a full 200-bed hospital will be delivered to Bass Lake. According to Supervisor Lonnie Cornwell and Chairman of the Board Herman Neufeld of Madera County, the hospital is a packaged unit owned by the Federal Government and assigned to Bass Lake through the State Department of Public Health and Madera County Civil Defense.

The hospital has three complete surgeries, an X-Ray machine using 60-second Polaroid development, complete pharmacy and laboratory, as well as all equipment and supplies needed to support full operation of a 200-bed general surgical hospital.

The unit will remain in storage at Bass Lake until a large scale disaster dictates its use. It can, and will be set up by a crew of 25 men in a period of three hours either in the Bass Lake Elementary School or elsewhere as needed. Dr. Walter G. Snyder is Medical Chief of Staff for the unit.”

Does anyone know about this unit and what happened to it? Apparently, this was one of the Civil Defense Packaged Disaster Hospitals. You can see photos and read about them here.

It would have required a lot of floor space for storage. Where at Bass Lake could that have been? Is it still there?

Follow-up to History Mystery #87

The bus photo didn’t provide us with any information other than some good speculation that it was most likely the bus driver. There were some good references to some locals who would know, however there was no real identification. We hope that someone will look at the SNO archives and perhaps know who it is one day so we can archive the photograph properly. Due to COVID-19 the museum will remain closed until further notice. We are currently working on how to plan and design our exhibits.

Thanks to all the SNO followers, hope more mysteries can be solved.

-Christina McDonald, Mono Museum


  1. We received 8 comments on the Facebook page:

    Edward L Rose Where is it
    Amanda Anderson Definitely can’t assemble at the bass lake elementary school anymore lol
    Shellie Amerjan Tim Snyder
    Laurie Shimmin Zimmer Wow, 200 beds. Wouldn’t 1/8th that size be nice to have?
    Connie Winner That’s quite the bed!!
    Leonard A Brown Ask Cliff Nuefeld perhaps. That was six months after I was born, it was probably stored in a hangar or building at the airport, which was right nearby Bass Lake Elementary.
    Linda Norgaard Animal hospital?
    Earlene Keller Never heard anything about this and I’ve been up here all my life trying to think who could I ask somebody

  2. We received the following comment from Debbie Carter.
    At Leonard Brown’s suggestion, I contacted Cliff Neufeld to see if he knew anything. He had never heard of it but agreed with Leonard that the most likely place to store it would have been at the airport. He also said that when he worked at Bass Lake School, he noticed an extra water tank that did not feed into the school and asked an “old-timer” about it. Cliff was told that there had been a nuclear missile site at Chepo Saddle, and this tank was the water supply for it! There is still a chain-link fence on the north side of Road 222 that was there to protect the site. This might explain why Bass Lake merited this field hospital. Cliff plans to try to contact Tim Snyder, son of Dr. Walter Snyder, to see if he knows anything about it. Thanks for all of your responses. Debbie

    I wonder if the hospital was stored at the missile site? Don

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