This week, a tour of Facebook's newest cold storage technology led me far afield, deep into central Oregon's expanse of high desert—the ideal spot for major companies to store their countless bytes thanks to a confluence of environmental factors and lax taxation. While out there, I figured that I might as well track down the hush-hush Apple data center that moved into the neighborhood of Facebook's 120-acre plot off Highway 126 late last year.

As it turns out, Apple's complex, code-named "Pillar"—and completely devoid of any markings identifying it as an outpost of the Cupertino company—is a literal stone's throw from Facebook's Prineville, Ore. hub. Tracking down the location of Apple's stealth site was just as easy as peering southeast from Facebook's roof, which ironically offered what was probably the best view in town. The Facebook employees pointed it out to me while cracking jokes about its apparently not-so-secret alias.

Construction began on the Apple data center last October, and now the first phase's main building (the large black one) appears to be complete, to the untrained, telephoto-lens equipped eye, anyway. Eventually the project will encompass two full 338,000-square foot data centers sprawling across Apple's 160-acre Prineville plot. And because everything is spookier and more fascinating when it's built out in the desert, we bring you the photographic fruits of our Veronica Mars-style investigation of Apple's Area 51.

Ahem. Ahem.

"Pillar" the code-name for Apple's Prineville, Ore. data center, is pretty serious about trespassing, apparently. "Pillar" the code-name for Apple's Prineville, Ore. data center, is pretty serious about trespassing, apparently.

View from the roof of one of Facebook's Prineville data center buildings... Apple is the black building on the far left. View from the roof of one of Facebook's Prineville data center buildings... Apple is the black building on the far left.

In this high desert small town, Facebook's one-story high structure is the best vantage point around. In this high desert small town, Facebook's one-story high structure is the best vantage point around.

Apple's data center in Prineville, Ore. is identified only as "Pillar"—there are no Apple logos, fonts or signs in sight. Apple's data center in Prineville, Ore. is identified only as "Pillar"—there are no Apple logos, fonts or signs in sight.

Apple's "Pillar" data center is just across the street from Facebook—and behind an RV repair shop. Apple's "Pillar" data center is just across the street from Facebook—and behind an RV repair shop.

Construction on the "Pillar" site began in October 2012, and now one large building appears complete. Construction on the "Pillar" site began in October 2012, and now one large building appears complete.

The Pillar site is surrounded by a large black fence on all sides, stretching out roughly 300 yards from the buildings themselves. The Pillar site is surrounded by a large black fence on all sides, stretching out roughly 300 yards from the buildings themselves.

A visitor station with reflective black windows is the only entry point into Pillar, which is patrolled by security even after business hours. A visitor station with reflective black windows is the only entry point into Pillar, which is patrolled by security even after business hours.

The address for the site, 1600 SW Baldwin Road, isn't identifiable via Google Maps—but finding 1600 SE Baldwin Ct., an unrelated location around a mile away, is easy.
The address for the site, 1600 SW Baldwin Road, isn't identifiable via Google Maps—but finding 1600 SE Baldwin Ct., an unrelated location around a mile away, is easy.

Apple's "Pillar" project is under contract with construction company Fortis, the only other identifying brand on the site. Apple's "Pillar" project is under contract with construction company Fortis, the only other identifying brand on the site.

Facebook's relatively open and well-identified data compound is literally across the street from Pillar. It's a roughly 2 minute drive between the sites. Facebook's relatively open and well-identified data compound is literally across the street from Pillar. It's a roughly 2 minute drive between the sites.