Maryland Has Its Own Area 51 and It is Fascinating

Area 51 is not the sole clandestine military facility in the United States; indeed, another one exists in Maryland, just 60 miles from Washington, D.C. Referred to as Fort Meade, it serves as the home to the National Security Agency (NSA), the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), and various other intelligence and military entities.

What is Fort Meade?

Established in 1917 as a training camp for World War I soldiers, Fort Meade spans 5,067 acres and has since transformed into a central hub for intelligence, cyber, and information operations. Currently, it accommodates over 50,000 military personnel, civilians, and contractors, making it the largest employer in Maryland.

Fort Meade stands as the NSA’s headquarters, responsible for collecting, analyzing, and safeguarding the nation’s communications and information systems.

The NSA operates an extensive complex on the base, featuring the iconic 1.5 million-square-foot glass-and-steel structure known as OPS2A or the “Big Black Box.” Additionally, the NSA houses a supercomputer center, a museum, a cryptologic memorial, and even a golf course on the premises.

Why is Fort Meade Intriguing?

Fort Meade captivates attention due to the mysteries and secrets surrounding it. Similar to Area 51, the facility is heavily restricted and guarded, with fences, checkpoints, cameras, and patrols. Public access to the base is severely limited, and the NSA maintains a reputation for its stringent secrecy concerning activities and capabilities.

Speculations about Fort Meade include:

  • Intercepting and decrypting foreign communications, including those of allies and adversaries.
  • Developing and deploying offensive and defensive cyber weapons like malware, viruses, and worms.
  • Conducting espionage and counterintelligence operations involving hacking, spying, and infiltration.
  • Researching and experimenting with cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and biometrics.
  • Storing and processing vast amounts of data, including phone calls, emails, texts, and internet traffic.

While these are speculative, the NSA and Fort Meade disclose minimal information about their missions and methods. Some secrets have been revealed by whistleblowers, hackers, journalists, and lawsuits, such as Edward Snowden’s revelations, the Shadow Brokers, and the Baltimore Sun’s reports.

How to Visit Fort Meade?

For those curious about Fort Meade, visiting options are available, though access to NSA facilities is restricted without a valid reason and security clearance.

One option is the National Cryptologic Museum, situated just outside Fort Meade’s main gate. Open to the public and free of charge, the museum showcases the history and accomplishments of the NSA and the cryptologic community.

Another option is the National Vigilance Park, adjacent to the museum, honoring aerial reconnaissance crews. Open to the public and free of charge during museum hours, the park features four historic aircraft used for signals intelligence missions.

A third option is the Fort Meade Museum, located on the base, dedicated to the history and heritage of Fort Meade and its units. Open to the public, obtaining a visitor pass from the Visitor Control Center is necessary, along with presenting a valid photo ID, vehicle registration, and insurance card.


Fort Meade emerges as a captivating locale with numerous secrets and mysteries. As one of the most significant military sites in the United States, it plays a crucial role in the nation’s security and defense. However, questions and controversies surround the NSA and its activities, making Fort Meade a compelling destination for those interested in history, technology, or espionage, challenging visitors to delve deeper into its enigmatic allure.


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