Nike Missiles At The Ready
Here in Anchorage we only had three missile sites. Site Bay. That was to the north of town and has been destroyed, mostly by vandals. Site Point, on the bluff west of town. It is now Kincaid Park, with great pedal bike and ski trails. One of its missile bunkers in now a Chalet, used for all kinds of community and private events, one of the other remaining bunkers is used by the Nordic ski association, for storage of their trail grooming machines and trail direction signs.
Since Site Summit is on top of Mt. Gordon Lyon on the eastern edge of base JBER it has remained mostly isolated from the public. That isolation made it the most preserved cold war site in Alaska. The National Park Service has created Nike Site Summit Historic District it is a nationally significant Cold War site. The Nike Site Summit preservation society raises money to preserve Site Summit by giving tours of the site, and this summer I got treated to a tour. Being pure of heart mostly has its perks!
Pre Tour Safety Briefing
After the talk we boarded a small bus. The Magic Bus, for the ride to the top of the mountain, via a dirt curvy road.
Looking west from Site Summit. Just aboot all of Anchorage is in this photo. Downtown, the airport, and the locations of the other two Nike sites, clearly why no Russian bomber ever attempted to bomb Anchorage.
Our first stop was the remains of the missile control site. The control had to be away from the actual missiles for the radar to work, and it took two massive radar antennas. One to track the target, and the other to track and control the missile.
Cold War Relics Nike Radar Towers
The radar towers are mostly all that is left of the site. The control building was left exposed to the elements when the military abandoned it in 1979 and had to be torn down several years ago.
Down at the launch site there was more to see.
One of two of the sites bunkers where the Nike missiles were kept ready to launch. They actually launched a few of the Nikes from here, not ever against a enemy but for practice and to give the town a show. It was quite a event back in the 1960 and most of Anchorage would turn out to watch the missile shoot across the sky. Heck I would turn out to see that. They ended the live fires after one of the rocket first stages landed on a Eagle River homesteaders chicken coop, there were no survivors.
Security of the launch site was a big concern. Even though the site was located on a military base and on top of a mountain, they had two fences one inner one outer.
Remains of the Outer Fence
After dark or when on high alert they would turn dogs loose to patrol between the fences, and of course they had armed guards at the gates.
Interior of one of the guard huts, another Magic Bus passenger looks in while I look out!
The Nike Site Summit preservation group are busy restoring the dog kennels and re roofing one of the launch control buildings, and they hope to have that completed before winter sets in. The tour was great our guides knew everything aboot the site. They did not have a actual missile for us to launch, but maybe next year.
Nike Site Summit May It Rust In A World Of Peace!