The Tragedy Of A Former Navy Base's Arcade Games

Image: The Arcade Blogger

You might remember last year we told you about a "raid" on an old ship that managed to save a bunch of classic arcade games. Now let's see what happens when a raid doesn't have such a happy ending.

Tony Temple, who wrote up the nicer story from 2016, now has the tale of Ralph Link, who found out there was a massive stash of old arcade cabinets sitting in Argentia, a former US Navy base in Newfoundland.

Link heard about the games when he bought an old Street Fighter II cabinet, learning from the seller that the base's huge mess hall/officer's club — where the SFII game had originated — had at one point been home to 40-50 "amusement cabinets", most of them video games but also some slot machines, since Argentia was the only spot on Newfoundland where they were legal.

The mess hall at Argentia | Image: The Arcade Blogger

Arriving at Argentia to investigate the lead, Link quickly found that the site — now being converted to a private "marijuana growing facility" — was no longer housing the cabinets. Instead, they'd been taken to a scrap yard four hours drive from the base.

And that was where their story ended, because every single one of them had been "smashed up so that they could fit into dumpsters ready for transportation."

Image: The Arcade Blogger

The tragedy here isn't just that the games had been smashed. It's that Link had only just missed them. A week earlier these arcade cabinets had been sitting in the mess hall alongside the Street Fighter game that Link had purchased.

It was only during the time between buying that cabinet and making it out to Newfoundland that everything had been hauled off and destroyed.

Image: The Arcade Blogger

Ralph managed to salvage a few spare parts from the trash pile, and the trip wasn't a complete bust: three cabinets (including a WWF game and the pinball title Raven) had been left behind at the old base, which he managed to recover.

Image: The Arcade Blogger

But the rest was toast. And Ralph estimates the worth of the rubble to be around CAD$20,000 ($20,584). Ouch.

You can read the complete account of the trip at Tony's site, while Link has his own Facebook page dedicated to Newfoundland's arcade and pinball scene.



    I feel the pain here, but man, there's so much junk out there that might be worth quite a lot to someone, sometime, somewhere. It takes a particular type of hoarding personality to salvage stuff like this.

    I know I've carried old games, old LPs and the like bouncing from rental to rental to the point that I've just ran out of energy to carry them around anymore, am too introverted to gumtree everything, and ended up tossing them to landfill. Perhaps by now I've thrown out a goldmine, but more likely not.

      Yeah in the past couple of years I've done a lot of shedding - some in the way of gumtree, some other stuff like 100+ Blu rays im never going to watch again and werent classics - straight to cash converters... I just want rid of it all as when i was a kid i thought everything would be worth something one day!

      Haha now I feel as if I've thrown out some classic games and given away some brilliant vinyl but I still feel like I never have any storage space so maybe I just gotta keep going!!!

      But you have to admit the amount of sweaty ball sucking taking place here when these things have been sitting there for years (or decades) and only missed out on getting a second chance at life by a number of days. :(

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