Purdue Ventures Out ‘Lite’: Muscatatuck Indiana

by Evan Myers | Director of Print Media

Muscatatuck is a military installation near the town of Seymour, Indiana that strongly resembles a place you might see while watching an episode of The Walking Dead…minus the zombies. While the facility initially opened in 1920 as a “Farm Colony for the Feeble Minded,” a kind of school for mentally-challenged children, the installation later expanded its services to people of all ages, and by the 1940s it was a regular mental hospital housing folks with a variety of mental illnesses and developmental disabilities. In 2005, the mental hospital closed, and eventually Governor Mitch Daniels (now the president of our University) gave the Indiana National Guard control of the grounds so that they could assign the area an entirely new purpose.

Muscatatuck is now a fully-operational urban training center that looks exactly like a post-apocalyptic city. Both military and civilian organizations use the facility for intense and immersive training that prepares members of police forces, FBI, CIA, national guardsmen, independent contractors and a variety of other military service members for disaster scenarios such as floods, tornadoes, and even nuclear, biological or chemical attacks. The area features over 120 training structures, including a 7 story building, a mock sports stadium, and a system of underground tunnels that stretches throughout the town for over a mile.

Taking a stroll through the training center can be an eerie experience, especially armed with the knowledge that the grounds on which you walk used to belong to a mental institution. There is an abundance of crushed cars and crumbling buildings, providing military personnel with realistic first-responder and anti-terrorism training as they navigate the rubble and ruins of the abandoned old town. In the past few years, the facility has hosted a number of state-wide training exercises, including one that simulated F5 tornado, another that simulated a massive earthquake, and yet another that prepared first responders for a pandemic which included several volunteers who played the roles of survivors, opposing forces, and disaster victims.

Access to the urban training center is limited to unauthorized personnel, so I was quite lucky to have the chance to explore it myself. I managed to take a couple of pictures of the area, but if you are interested you can check out their website to get more information on the facility here.


Don’t forget to check out our “Venture Out” Series in the Purdue Review print edition to see what other fascinating places in Indiana the staff of the Purdue Review has gone to explore! Send us your ideas of where you think our next adventure should be.