Camp TUTO Sixty Year Anniversary

Posted by William Colgan on September 30, 2014
Applied Glaciology, Cold War Science, Glaciology History

Sixty years ago this month, in September 1954, the US Army Corps of Engineers completed its first summer of construction at Camp TUTO, Greenland. Camp TUTO was tucked against the Greenland ice sheet east of Thule Air Base. The gently sloping ice sheet adjacent to the camp, earmarked for vehicle access to the ice sheet interior, was named Thule Take-Off (or TUTO). Over the summer of 1954, some of the one hundred soldiers stationed at Camp TUTO built a gravel road up the first 1500 meters (4700 feet) of TUTO Ramp. Although that got them above the sometimes bare ice and slush of the lower elevation ice sheet melt zone, it still proved difficult to drive over the soft snow of the higher elevation ice sheet accumulation zone.

In official reports, the US Army Corps of Engineers tested “every off-road military vehicle (probably not excepting Hannibal’s elephants)” in the search for a suitable over-snow vehicle. The M29C Weasel, originally designed as an amphibious vehicle late in the Second World War, had proved disappointing in swampy terrain, but exceptionally nimble on the ice sheet. Although the Weasel was out of production even before construction started at Camp TUTO, it became a beloved backbone of US Army logistics on the Greenland ice sheet for almost two decades.

Constructing TUTO Ramp and adopting the Weasel opened up the interior of the Greenland ice sheet for a wide array of military engineering activities, including the construction of ice sheet runways and under-snow stations, as well as civilian science activities, including recovering the first “deep” ice core and wide-ranging snow and accumulation surveys. An auspicious anniversary of a ground-breaking project in applied glaciology!

(skimmed from my upcoming Cold War science project.)


The view up TUTO Ramp, from the ice margin at Camp TUTO, on to the Greenland ice sheet in 1954. (from Nate Galbreath at


Modified M29C Weasels in convoy (left) on the Greenland ice sheet in 1954. (from Nate Galbreath at

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14 Comments to Camp TUTO Sixty Year Anniversary

  • Im glad you contacted me. I’ve got to find somewhere to archive the website, I’m in my 80’s and not in the greatest of health. Maybe the Library of Congress. I had my own International orange
    weasel left with by a British
    expedition that had been on the cap for sometime with 6 weasels. They got back with only the one. I was a lowly 2nd louie, and one of our maintenance Captains got so jealous he slipped by and cannibalized enough parts that it no longer ran. I had been driving from the barracks to my warehouse. My capt. got me appointed a driver on the huge Le Tourneo {sp?} swamp buggy. We followed one of our sled swings 250 miles out on the cap to the radar base. A guy called me asking ,e of I was a driver on the Buggy. he was calling me from the LeT” museum and asked me to set up a time for a phone interview for the museum. Then he called me back and said he found a log Mr. LeT had made when he came up to Thule to check on how we were treating his buggy. My unit brought him out on the cap with our choppers. He also sent me a picture the old man took of the buggy with the 4 drivers, including me.

    Thanks for the memories,


  • I believe my father was stationed at the US Army base at/near Camp TUTO in the late 60’s. I was looking for some memorabilia, specifically a flag that may have been flown over the base at that time. Does anyone know if such an item exists or a picture that I can use to have a replica made? please email me if you can help. . Thank you!

  • hello –
    some years ago I saw some fotos in the net, showing
    the burning down of the buildings of Camp Tuto after the Camp had been abandoned.
    I can´t find pictures any more. Who could help me????

    • I have many photos of Camp Tuto. I was stationed there as Research Officer. I was involved in all sorts of equipment including the Snow Train made
      by Letourneau

  • I was with The US Army Polar Research & Development stationed at Tuto/Camp Century Sept 1961 – Jan 62 & Sept 1962 – Dec 1963. Worked on the Heavy Swing hauling cargo from Camp Tuto to Camp Century.

    • Hi Charles,
      I am writing a book on the LeTourneau Overland Trains and the Sno-Buggy. I would love to hear more about your time at Camp Tuto/Century. Would you be open to a conversation? My email is Thank you in advance.
      Mark Moore, Tacoma, WA

  • I was at Camp Tuto in th is summer of 1959, 1960 and Winter of 1960….I work with the food supply….every day I would to Thule to get Milk and Bread…..the Post Office for mail…..on Monday we would get 5 Tons of food for the week….

    • I was in Tuto six times between June 1957 and July 1959, going to and coming back from Camp Fistclench (Site II) on the Icecap, 220 miles to the east. I got my Greenland Driver’s License (good for all vehicles, apparently, through a driver’s test in a weasel at Tuto.

  • Bob Orantes–Did you know Henchcliffe during your stay at Tuto? I remember the first sgt. there was a terrific guy. He brought me books to stay out of trouble while, as a 19-year-old college student I was awaiting transport to the Icecap.

  • I spent 6 months in Camp Tuto in 1964 and another tour in 1965, both Summer tours! I worked in the Repairs and Utilities Section, under Captain Britton and Lt Comer! It was a ‘Grand Adventure’ for this California surfer boy! The ‘Tuto Crew’ were all wonderful people and we had a great time fighting the elements! Now look what’s happening to the Ice Cap!

  • Bill McGill says”. ..I was at Tito and Century the summers of 63 and 64. The only fun part that I can remember is driving a Studebaker Weasel on the ice cap and doing donuts with it. As a surveyor, I had access to one

  • I was a signal corps weather man stationed at Fort Huachuca, AZ and Dugway Proving Ground, UT. I did three six month tours to Greenland. The first in Oct 1960 I was supposed to go to Camp Fistclench but they closed it. I ended up as the weather station chief at Camp Century, the first year it was kept open for the winter. The next two were also in the winter, first at Tuto East and the last time at Tuto West.I remember a guy named Zero Quigley as a generator repairman. A Lt. Seventy in the Camp Tuto motor pool. Our CO was Capt. Don Ridder. My email is

  • I Spent a year at Camp Tuto as Research Officer and worked with Letourneau Snow Train, Weasels Otters and many other pieces of Equipment.

  • I was at Camp Tuto summer of 62, Company C 588th Engr. . I was a dozer operator, also operated A grader on the Thule road. I also spent a few weeks out on the cap, or should say under the ice and snow. I injured my hand and that’s the reason I had the pleasure of working with carpenters at this base for a few weeks, I just wish I could remember what the base was called. I think it was about half the the way too Century, I do remember 3 or four Navy Seals went out with us cold weather training, at the time never I heard of a Navy Seal.

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