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.
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.