The Rusted, Rotting Remains of A New Jersey Missile Base | Atlas Obscura

On a narrow strip of heavily wooded land, ringed with beaches and jutting out six miles from the coast of Northern New Jersey into the Atlantic Ocean, sits a remarkable secret.

At first, it looks like the top deck of an aircraft carrier. An old iron barbed wire fence surrounds the giant slab of concrete, which is hidden in layers of undergrowth. Faded yellow-painted markings, what looks like long rusted bay doors, are embedded into the floor. Old loudspeakers and disused arc lamps mark the perimeter.

This was one of the most highly classified, top secret locations in the United States, a Nike missile base called Fort Hancock. If you were caught anywhere near it in the last 50 or so years, the heavily armed patrols had orders to release their vicious attack dogs and shoot to kill on sight. Now in ruins, these forgotten remnants were New York’s last line of defense against Soviet nuclear attack.

via The Rusted, Rotting Remains of A New Jersey Missile Base | Atlas Obscura.

Of course, Fort Hancock started out as a Coast Artillery post, first begun as a Third Scheme fortress, then as a proto-Endicott period, and finally with most of its batteries being Endicott.  Here’s a nice picture of the main gun conducting a practice firing in 1941.

It’s also a good opportunity to share one of the better resources on our nations forts, Fortwiki.

4 thoughts on “The Rusted, Rotting Remains of A New Jersey Missile Base | Atlas Obscura”

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOFfdq5m5V0
    Last century, when the Nike program was at its peak, there were 300 operational installations. Nike was strictly AAW. When ICBMs arrived, the US public mistakenly believed that Nike would protect them – which it would not. SAGE came along to fulfill the missile defense role, but aside from the technology not being quite up to the task, Robert Strange McNamara and the wiz kids decided to rely on MAD as the cheaper alternative.
    This century it is interesting to note how one little missile defense installation on a defunct Romanian airbase could cause such consternation to the Russians. Lighten up Vlad. SM-3 isn’t going to catch anything. The best it can do is to get in the way.

  2. My first unit in Germany was a hawk missile site sitting atop an old Nike herd site. My shop was the old missile maintenance building.

  3. I’d like to see the source for the quote that heavily armed patrols would shoot on sight because I am highly skeptical of that.

    1. I had a friend who was stationed at NY-15 and NY-49 in the 1960’s. According to him, if you were approaching the site in ANYTHING other than the exactly prescribed manner, you were going to get shot.

      The government had made a big deal at the time about there being no nuclear weapons in New York City, and they wanted to make damn sure that nobody found out about the ones that were actually there.

      Unfortunately we can’t go back to him for clarification – he died back in 2004 or so.

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