Behind the hidden history of APG

By Andrew MonathNovember 27, 2023

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md - Throughout its 106-year history, Aberdeen Proving Ground has seen many changes, both geographically and militaristically, and it is no secret there is a large military presence on APG. Those who live and work in the surrounding areas are often reminded of the Army’s activity with loud booms, distant rumbles and floods of employees entering the gates every morning. “What was that sound?” may even be the most asked question in Harford County.

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Though public access to this installation is typically restricted, it was not always that way. Sitting conveniently along the Chesapeake Bay, and a short ride to Philadelphia and Washington D.C., the land that is now Aberdeen Proving Ground offered luxuries of maritime activities, trade routes and thousands of acres of fertile farmland.

Each of these factors made it an ideal location for a testing and research military base. On Oct 20, 1917, six months after entering World War I, the U.S. government purchased the piece of land to proof-test field artillery weapons, ammunition, trench mortars, air defense guns and railway artillery. However, the history of APG begins long before the U.S. Army landed its boots on places like Plum Point Loop and Poole’s Island.

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APG’s rich history and longstanding roots in the community have left many wondering what other forgotten stories from behind the gates of the 72,000-acre installation are still waiting to be uncovered. Fortunately for listeners, the government employs military historians, and what better way to learn about the place where you live, work (or hear every day) than from the experts?

With that concept in mind, the idea for an APG history themed podcast was born. Aberdeen Proving Ground’s Hidden History is the first of its kind, bringing information directly to the public from the subject matter experts.

From the New York Rod and Gun Club that once stood at the edge of Spesutie Island to the deserted lighthouse of Poole’s Island, the podcast aims to bring to light the once prominent and significant relics that dotted the peninsula.

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Meet the hosts

Susan Thompson, CECOM command historian, serves as one half of the APG Hidden History Podcast team.

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Thompson’s passion for history and preservation began with her education. During her undergraduate studies, she majored in historic preservation and art history at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She continued her studies with a master’s degree in urban affairs and public policy with a specialization in historic preservation at the University of Delaware.

Upon graduation, Thompson found work as a historic preservation contractor in Baltimore, Maryland and soon became a liaison for the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation at the U.S. Army Environmental Center. After AEC relocated to Fort Sam Houston, Thompson found work as the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command’s new command historian following CECOM’s move to APG from Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. At CECOM, Thompson collects, categorizes and maintains the command’s history.

During her free time, Thompson enjoys baking, reading the works of Jane Austen and touring national parks and decommissioned military forts.

Sean Kief, CECOM audio/visual specialist, brings his wit and charm to complete the dynamic duo of the podcast’s hosts.

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Since 2004, Kief has worked on APG in some capacity involving photography and videography. Before joining CECOM in 2017, Kief was the photographer for the APG Garrison and ran the photo studio on post.

Born in Maryland and raised in Baltimore County, Kief has worked professionally as a photographer in the local area since the age of nineteen. After years of developing his skills, and a growing passion for genealogy, he published his first book in 2013 on the Perry Hall Mansion, his ancestral home in Baltimore County.

He is also an avid collector of unique socks, bad jokes and antiques, specifically chalkware figurines and breweriana.

Join Thompson and Kief as they take you back in time behind the lesser- known hidden history of Aberdeen Proving Ground.

You can find the podcast episodes released bi-weekly at:

Or listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Pandora, Google, Audible, and Amazon Music by searching "Aberdeen Proving Ground Hidden History".

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL