No more missiles!

No more missiles; just horses

These are the Watchung Stables, former home to U.S. Army Nike Missile Battery NY-73!

In 1957, during the Cold War, the U.S. army declared that it would construct a Nike missile base on the Watchung Reservation. Despite the loud protests of both local officials and residents, the base— NY-73— was completed in 1958.

The base consisted of two parts: the launcher, where missiles were assembled, tested, and stored in three underground magazines (each of which could hold ten Nike Ajax missiles); and the control area, officially known as the Missile Tracking Radar Station, which was not actually located within the Watchung Reservation (or at least not within the present boundaries of the reservation).

(The launcher was in Mountainside where the Watchung Stables are now; the control site was next to Governor Livingston High School in Berkeley Heights).

Image from ; I have a scan from a book, too, but it didn't come out

For reasons apparently unknown, the battery started shutting down in 1962, less than four years after they opened it. (It was officially deactivated in 1963.) Point of interest: the underground cables connecting the launcher and control areas were severed just days before the Cuban Missile Crisis.

For the next twenty years, I’m not sure if anything constructive happened to the site, but it seems like local kids enjoyed trespassing to check it out. (There are at least two accounts that the control room had flooded.)

Construction on the Watchung Stables began in 1983, and the stables officially moved onto the former launch site in 1985, where they’ve remained since. There might be some concrete bunkers tucked away underneath the buildings, but there are no longer any obvious remnants of the missile base.

For information on the modern-day amenities of the Watchung Stables, check out their official website.




Bender, D.E. (n.d.). “Nike Battery NY-73: Summit, NJ.” Nike Missiles and Missile Sites.

Harpster, F. (2009). “Missiles in Mountainside: Nike Battery NY-73.” From the Hetfield House (newsletter). (PDF).

LostinJersey Blog. (2009). “Summit Nike base.” (comments used extensively).

Troeger, V.B. (2005). Images of America: Berkeley Heights Revisited. Arcadia Publishing: Charleston, SC. ISBN 0738537527. County of Union, New Jersey. (n.d.). “Chronology of the park system: 1921-1987.”

4 Responses to “No more missiles!”

  1. Thanks for sharing this bit of education 😀 I enjoy reading posts like these.

  2. Incoming! It’s the New Jersey Festival of Electronic Arts tomorrow (Saturday 3/10/2012) FROM 1-8!

    Sat., March 10, 2012 – 1 to 8pm. (Blizzard Date: 3/11/2012)

    Free with paid admission to Grounds For Sculpture, Hamilton, N.J.
    Grounds For Sculpture Admission Prices: Adults $12, Senior (65+) $10, Children (6-17) $8
    Members and Children (5 and under) free

  3. The reason it was shutdown was that the missiles it was setup to use were obsoleted by a later generation with more range, and the site wasn’t selected to get them. Nike-Zeus v. Nike-Ajax.

    I too wandered around it during the dilapidated period, as it was on the way from my home in Westfield and Summit.


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