Archive for April, 2012

April 20, 2012

Nike Road: Part 2

The Nike Road bridge over I-78, as viewed from the bunny bridge half a mile away

Remember when I was rambling about Nike Road yesterday? Do you? Today I intend to ramble about the Nike Road bridge.

For twenty years after the Watchung Reservation Nike base was deactivated in 1963, as far as I can tell, both the launcher and the control area lay abandoned and unused.

And then, in the 1970s, I-78 came along.

The interstate was originally supposed to cut right through the Watchung Reservation, but the locals were definitively not okay with that. For years, a war raged between angry locals and equally angry road-builders.

Eventually, in the mid-1980s, they came to an agreement: I-78 would be built, but it would just skirt the northern edge of the Watchung Reservation (which necessitated blasting through the Second Watchung Mountain, which was a pain), and several non-road-bearing land bridges would be constructed to allow wildlife from the Watchung Reservation to migrate across the interstate without interfering with traffic.

One of those land bridges, as I’ve already shown you, was the bunny bridge.

The other land bridge is Nike Road, a little one-lane maintenance road that ran from Glenside Avenue to the Missile Tracking Radar Station.

Nike Road bridge, as viewed from the westbound lanes (actually as viewed from the Bunny Bridge)

 

While the lore says that Nike Road has always been part of the Nike missile station, the Nike Road bridge is dated 1985; if the missile station was deactivated in 1963, and I-78 wasn’t constructed until the 1980s, there was certainly no reason to build an overpass for an unused road. And there was certainly no need to line it with the same tall grass that’s found on the bunny bridge.

1985? But the control station had been out of use for twenty years by then!

 

So as far as I can tell, Nike Road bridge was wholly intended to serve as an alternative to the bunny bridge for a wildlife migration land bridge… and maybe some maintenance vehicles from time to time, because why else would they go to the trouble of paving it?

(I haven’t seen this explicitly stated anywhere, so this is my own conclusion; if you have additional information either confirming or denying this, please leave a comment below!)

But as I mentioned yesterday, it seems like vehicles aren’t really a priority, because the road is currently obstructed by logs (which are, generally speaking, not very friendly to things on wheels).

And that’s that. For additional information, refer to my sources below.

 

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.

April 19, 2012

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.

April 18, 2012

Clockwork

It's a clock in Patriot Park! It's a gas mask! It's something.

Patriot Park (in Springfield) is a small lot of grass on the corner of Wabeno and Springfield Avenues. Apparently the park was only established last June! This is its clock.

…OR IS IT A STEAMPUNK GAS MASK? Can you see it?! With its clockwork goggles and long straight nose-pole? See it? Maybe? No, I’m probably just crazy.

April 17, 2012

Library glass

Pretty glass in the Springfield Public Library!

The Springfield Library [website] has a meeting room with some very lovely windows!

I like context photos. I think they help give things context. As only a context photo can do.

April 16, 2012

Bunny bridge!

Tall grass and a fence? This is an overpass?

Did you know this area has not just one unused overpass with no road on top, but several?

When plans for the construction of I-78 were unveiled, they were met with a LOT of opposition, because it needed to pass through the Watchung Reservation. And both sides butted heads for years: the section of I-78 from Exits 33-41 was completed in 1974, but the section through the Watchung Reservation (Exits 43-48) wasn’t opened until 1986.

In order to get locals to agree to the road construction at all, the roadmakers needed to make a few concessions:

  1. I-78 was shifted to the northern edge of the reservation, so as to disturb as little of the land as possible. The original plan was to barrel right through. (This northern route made construction a hell of a lot more difficult, since they had to blast through extensive portions of the Second Watchung Mountain.)
  2. Extra land bridges were constructed to allow animals to easily migrate to and from the Watchung Reservation without getting killed by interstate traffic.

One of the land bridges (shown above), colloquially called the “bunny bridge,” really is just a field of grass over I-78.

Really, it is just a bridge of land. Click to see the Google map!

 

This is what it looks like when you’re approaching it going west to east:

View from I-78; actually the view from Nike Rd, half a mile down the road.

 

(By the way: I’m having computer problems. I may miss some updates this week.)

 

 

References:

LostinJersey Blog. (2009). “The bunny bridge of Watchung.” http://lostinjersey.wordpress.com/2009/03/19/the-bunny-bridge-of-watchung/.

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

April 15, 2012

Dem bones

Bones!

This skeletal remnant has been lying near/in a trail on the Watchung Reservation for at least a few months, since the last time I came through this way.

The ribs and tibia make it something bigger than a rabbit, but the molars are reasonably small. The spot is also surrounded by gray fur. A dog, maybe, hit by a car on the nearby Glenside Avenue and rolled over here to die? I sure hope not. 😦

Just to give you a larger context.

I’m not sure why I’m more upset at the idea of a dog dying here than, say, a badger dying here.

April 14, 2012

untitled

(I have no caption for this)

This woman was searching for her dog (Percy) at Short Hills Park.

I really hope she found him. 😦

April 13, 2012

Outcrop

Just enjoyin' the view

This rock I’m sitting on was worn smooth from all the non-rule-abiding hikers (like me) who ventured off-path to enjoy the view afforded by this little outcrop in the South Mountain Reservation. I’ll bet the scene is even lovelier once everything fully turns green.

April 12, 2012

Cannonball!

The Cannon Ball House in Springfield, NJ!

The Cannon Ball House in Springfield was:

  • Built in either 1741 or 1761 (the second date is currently favored) by Dr. Jonathan Dayton
  • Originally a farmstead
  • Used as a hospital by the British during the Battle of Springfield in 1780
  • Pierced by a cannonball in its west wall during the Battle of Springfield (hence the name “Cannon Ball House”)
  • Operated as a tavern, briefly
  • A residence again, for many many years
  • The home of the Springfield Historical Society (and still is, ever since 1953)
  • Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 (as the Hutchings Homestead)

Here’s what it looked like in the early 1900s:
Springfield NJ Cannon Ball House, circa 1900

 

In case you’re wondering why I keep misspelling “cannonball,” it’s because I’m using the spelling on the sign out front.

Cannon Ball House, see, it says so right there.

 

Also in case you’re wondering, two of my references were bronze plaques nailed near the front door:
Plaques!

 

Just to confuse things, there’s another historical Osborne Cannonball House in nearby Scotch Plains (also Union County), which was ALSO built c.1760, and ALSO pierced by a cannonball during the Revolutionary War. This is NOT that house.

 

References:

New Jersey State Chapter: Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America. (1957). “The Cannonball House.” (Sign marker). Documented April 2012.

Sanfranman59. (Last edit April 3, 2012). “National Register of Historic Places listings in Union County, New Jersey.” Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Registered_Historic_Places_in_Union_County,_New_Jersey.

Turner, J. and Koles, R.T. (2004). Images of America: Springfield. Arcadia Publishing: Charleston, SC. ISBN 0738536180.

United States Department of the Interior (n.d.). “National Register of Historic Places.” (Sign marker). Documented April 2012.

April 11, 2012

Abandoned chorister

Just hangin' out. You know.

Just, y’know, a choir boy on the side of the road.

At the church I used to go to, this is almost identically the outfit that the kindergarten choir had to wear, right down to the big black bow. We always pitied them.

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