Nike Road: Part 1

Barbed wire near the missile control area

This is approximately where the Nike missiles in the Watchung Reservation used to be controlled!

You may recall when I wrote about the Nike missile launch site, which used to be located where the Watchung Stables are now. If you don’t (don’t feel bad, I don’t expect you to), here’s a recap.

In 1957, during the Cold War, the U.S. army declared that it would construct a Nike missile base on the Watchung Reservation. Despite locals’ loud protests, the base (NY-73) was completed in 1958.

The base consisted of two parts: the launcher (now the Watchung Stables), where missiles were assembled, tested, and stored in three underground magazines (each of which could hold ten Nike Ajax missiles); and the control area (near the present Governor Livingston High School), officially known as the Missile Tracking Radar Station.

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.)

While there are reportedly no signs left of the launcher near the Watchung Stables, a little bit of barbed wire and a concrete slab still mark the former control area.

A concrete thing. Entrance to a bunker? Damned if I know.

 

The interesting part of this is the long, winding, abandoned maintenance road that leads from Glenside Avenue to Governor Livingston High School.

The long and winding road (duh-duh) tha-at leads...

 

When I visited the control-area road, there were a lot of fallen trees blocking the road, presumably left from Hurricane Irene (August 2011) and the Halloween Blizzard (October 2011). Since the road is currently impassible to vehicular traffic, and nobody has bothered to move the logs for 5-8 months, I suspect the road doesn’t get a lot of traffic.

That big tree in front is about chest height. It's hard to get a sense of scale from this shot.

 

I did see more joggers and pedestrians than I expected. So the road DOES get used.

 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Nike Road adventure tomorrow!

 

References:

Alpert, S. (n.d.). “New Jersey Roads – Nikesite Rd., Union Co.” Alps’ Roads. http://www.alpsroads.net/roads/nj/nikesite/.

Alpert, S. (n.d.). “New Jersey Roads – I-78.” Alps’ Roads. http://www.alpsroads.net/roads/nj/i-78/.

Bender, D.E. (n.d.). “Nike Battery NY-73: Summit, NJ.” Nike Missiles and Missile Sites. http://alpha.fdu.edu/~bender/NY73.html.

Harpster, F. (2009). “Missiles in Mountainside: Nike Battery NY-73.” From the Hetfield House (newsletter). http://www.mountainsidehistory.org/files/HHnewsletter09final.pdf (PDF).

LostinJersey Blog. (2009). “Summit Nike base.” http://lostinjersey.wordpress.com/2009/03/19/summit-nike-base/.

Troeger, V.B. (2005). Images of America: Berkeley Heights Revisited. Arcadia Publishing: Charleston, SC. ISBN 0738537527.

Wikipedia. (2012). “Interstate 78 in New Jersey.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_78_in_New_Jersey#History.

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