Google Maps is a pretty convenient way of searching for where you want to go, researching places you want to visit or places you’re curious about. But there are certain places that Google doesn’t want you to see, and they’re either subtly unclear, outright concealed, or artfully blocked beneath a pixelated square. Some places, like the Huis Ten Bosch, the royal palace belonging to the Dutch royal family, are understandable – privacy and all that. But what about seemingly innocuous places, like Tantauco National Park in Chile? Or Baker Lake in Canada? Or even the Oregon / Washington border?
Surprising concealments on Google also include Colonel Sanders (the eponymous face on multiple Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises) and sections of the Faroe Islands. Two commercial airports are on this list as well – Syracuse Hancock International Airport and Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Mysterious ones include the Szazhalombatta Oil Refinery in Hungary and the Keowee Dam in South Carolina.
Places that aren’t surprising include military sites such as the HAARP Site in Gakona Alaska or the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. A maximum security prison in Ireland, the Portlaoise Prison, should come as no surprise as well.
Keep reading for fifteen places that Google Maps don’t want you to see.
15. Huis Ten Bosch, The Dutch Royal Family
Huis Ten Bosch, which translates to House in the Woods, is a royal palace belonging to the Dutch royal family, one of their three official residences. In this context, it’s understandable why its not completely viewable on Google – the royal family likely wants their privacy, and as public figures, nosy internet snoopers would probably be happy to glimpse into the details of their residence. While you can’t peer into specific details, you can view the exterior on other web searches – it’s so picturesque that a replica of the palace exists in Sasebo, Japan.
14. Tantauco National Park, Chile
A national park in Chile seems like it would be pretty innocuous, right? But for for whatever reason, Tantauco National Park in Chile is not clear on Google Maps. Spearheaded by Chileans President Sebastian Pinera, it was designed to protect the areas ecosystem. The park is a private natural reserve on Chiloe Island in Chile. While its concealed on Google, the park is open to the public. It consists of two campgrounds and hiking trails, and its a popular destination for ecotourists. Perhaps its privacy is due to the fact that endangered species live in the park? These species include the Chilote fox, the blue whale, Huillin otter, and the Guaitecas cypress.
13. Colonel Sanders
If you’re in the United States, it’s hard not to see the image of Colonel Sanders, the kindly older gentleman emblazoned onto the signs of Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise stores. But believe it or not, the image of Colonel Sanders is blurred out on Google Maps (go ahead and check). This is because the colonel was a real person, and is therefore protected by privacy laws. Colonel Harland David Sanders lived from 1890 to 1980, and he was known for – of course – founding Kentucky Fried Chicken. He opened the first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in Utah in 1952, and the company expanded from there.
12. Baker Lake, Nunavut, Canada
Another innocuous seeming place is Baker Lake, Nunavut, Canada – but its not fully visible on Google Maps. Baker Lake is a hamlet in the Kivalliq Region in Canada lying at the mouth of the Thelon River. Fun fact about Baker Lake – it is an ancient home for eleven branches of the Inuit family. Interestingly, it is also the Canadian Arctic’s only inland community and lies in the nation’s geographic center. The wildlife in Baker Lake is abundant and ranges from muskox, Arctic hares, wolves, wolverines, geese and caribou. Why it’s concealed is anyone’s guess.
11. Oregon / Washington Border
The border of Oregon and Washington seems pretty harmless, right? But for some strange reason, there is a particular area around the border that is concealed on Google Maps. The area is close to a town called Mist, Oregon in Nehalem River Valley. There are rumors as to why it is concealed – perhaps there is a FEMA, HAARP, or some other government site in the area. Apparently if you go there in person there are no particular details of anything nefarious – just an unmarked entrance and a fence. It really is a mystery, one which no one (yet) seems to have the answer to.
10. HAARP Site, Gakona Alaska
Now the lack of this sight’s visibility on Google is not surprising – but still intriguing. HAARP, which stands for High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, was an ionospheric research program funded by several organizations – including the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy. In layman’s terms, the program was created to enhance the technology of radio communications and surveillance. One of the program’s facilities is located on a site near Gakona, Alaska, a site owned by the Air Force. This site is concealed by a gray square on Google Maps if you try to search for it.
9. The Faroe Islands, Denmark
No, the entirety of the Faroe Islands aren’t concealed on Google – but parts of them are, intriguingly enough. The Faroe Islands are located in the North Atlantic Ocean, roughly halfway between Norway and Iceland – but they are under the control of Denmark. Unlike top secret military sights that are concealed on Google, you can hop on a plane and go to the Faroe Islands today if you wanted, so no one is really sure why sections of them are concealed. Perhaps – and this is just a rumor – the concealment has something to do with fishing rights, but the real reason why is shrouded in mystery.
8. The Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland
Another unsurprising entry on this list is the Aberdeen Proving Ground, a United States Army facility named for its location – Aberdeen, Maryland. Interestingly, Aberdeen Proving Grounds is the U.S. Army’s oldest active proving ground. It was established six months after the U.S. entered World War I on October 20, 1917. During the second World War, it had space for over 2,000 officers and 24,000 enlisted personnel. If you do a search for it today, the grounds are under low resolution and not very clear. This should come as no shock as its an active military site, but still intriguing nonetheless.
7. Syracuse Hancock International Airport
You wouldn’t think that an airport would need to be concealed, but that’s the case with (sections) of the Syracuse Hancock International Airport. It’s likely because the airport is jointly owned – the the city and the military. It’s located five miles northwest of Syracuse, New York, and it is primarily a commercial airport. It was established in 1927, and by the end of World War II, the United States Army Air Corps leased a section. Today, certain parts of the airport are restricted by view on Google. While the military presence there doesn’t make it a huge mystery as to why, it’s a little-known factoid about this otherwise civilian used airport.
6. Buffalo Niagara International Airport
Another commercial airport that is partially concealed on Google is the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. The airport is actually located in Cheektowaga but named for the nearby Buffalo Niagara Falls metropolitan area, and it’s one of the busiest airports in New York. It’s also one of the oldest airports, opening in 1926 on what was then farmland, and first calling itself the Buffalo Municipal Airport. Both airmail and passenger service began the next year. Today, certain areas appear whited out and details are unclear when you zoom in. Why its concealed is anyone’s guess – perhaps there is a military presence there, or some other reason?
5. Babylon, Iraq
It’s hard to believe that Babylon, Iraq was once one of the largest and most powerful cities of the ancient world if you were to look it up on Google today – it’s barely viewable. Quick history lesson – Babylon was a city of ancient Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It dates from the Akkadian Empire around 2300 BCE. In May 2009, the provincial government reopened the site to tourists. Due to safety concerns in the region now, its probably not as simple as hopping on a place and visiting – but now you ‘d be hard pressed to locate in on Google Maps.
4. Valencia City, Philippines
For some reason, sections of Valencia City in the Philippines were blurred on Google Earth. Valencia is one of the most populous in its region, and its the 6th largest in area in the province of Bukidnon. It is surrounded by Malaybalay City, Talakag, and Quezon, and has a population of over 180,000 people. One of the theories as to why it was pixelated and blurred out is that that government’s missile defense program was headquartered here – in which case the concealment would be understandable. But if that wasn’t the reason, the mystery continues as to why it was concealed.
3. Keowee Dam, South Carolina
In South Carolina you’ll find Lake Keowee, a man made reservoir. Keowee is a Cherokee name that can roughly be translated to “place of the mulberries”. Two large dams Keowee Dam and Little River Dam are nearby. Lake Keowee collects waters from nearby Keowee River and other bodies of water, and the outflows move between the two dams. Sounds pretty innocent, right? Well, for some reason, the Keowee Dam is not clear on Google Maps. Now, there are also three nuclear reactors in the same general area, so this can be a reason why, but it’s not really certain.
2. Szazhalombatta Oil Refinery, Hungary
The Szazhalombatta Oil Refinery in Hungary is rendered green in Google Maps, and its buildings and grounds are deleted as well. The refinery is owned by MOL Group, Hungarian Oil and Gas Public Limited Company, headquartered in Budapest, Hungary. MOL’s revenue is not insignificant – at one point, one fifth of Hungary’s GDP, and its only the second most valuable company in Central and Eastern Europe. Now no one is exactly sure why the buildings are concealed, and the true reason remains mysterious. One rumor claims that the green block concealing part of the facility is merely covering grass.
1. Portlaoise Prison, Ireland
Portlaoise Prison sounds like something out of an intense action film – it’s a high security jail in Ireland where the country’s most dangerous criminals are housed. Historically, it was called Maryborough Gaol, changing to it’s current name in 1929. There is another prison next to it called Midlands, and is often confused with it, but Midlands is newer and medium security. Portlaoise Prison was built in the 1830s, and is considered one of the oldest in the Irish prison system. While you can see the prison on Google, the colors don’t exactly pair up with its surroundings, perhaps indicating a lack of updating to prevent escapes…. or break ins. Who knows?
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