Archive for the ‘Military’ Category

Mahwah Nike Base

Read more about this Nike Base here

This site is long gone and from what I have been told there’s nothing left to see. If anyone knows anything more, please say so.

Swedesboro Nike Base

You can read more about the Swedesboro Nike base here

I have never visited this location. If anyone can tell me anything about it, I’d appreciate it.

Summit Nike Base

You can read more about the Summit Nike base here

Entrance to Nike Road


Nike Rd was the entrance to the Nike Control Base in Summit just outside the Watchung Reservation. The military buildings are long gone, and only the name of the road remains to remind people of what once was a part of our national defense system. The road is blocked off to vehicular access but foot traffic is permitted. The control base was built in 1958, despite
concerns about being located so close to the woods of the Reservation. Interstingly the base was shut down only 4 years later. The launch control site is located where the Watchung Stables are located now.



Battery Lewis

The Atlantic Highlands and Sandy Hook have been of great strategic importance to coastal defense for centuries. Naval defenses consisted of various forts, gun embankments, and even Nike missiles in the Cold War. Eventually these various defenses became obsolete and the military elements were removed, but the physical concrete bunkers remain. In Hartshorne Woods County Park in Navesink are the concrete remains of Battery Lewis and Battery 219.

Here’s a guide to the hikes from the NY/NJ Trail conference.To learn more about these fascinating pieces of military history, there’s a really good reference here.





All the rest of the pictures here

A history of the Nike Defense program


Disclaimer: most of the information form this page was gleaned from Weird NJ, a recent article in the Bergen Record and the site listed above. I will give an overview of the Nike Missile Defense System here. For much more details, please see the site above. As for specific site sin NJ, I’ll detail them individually.

The Nike missile system was the first successful, widely-deployed, guided surface-to-air missile system. During WWII the U.S. Army realized that conventional anti-aircraft artillery would not provide enough defense against the newer, faster jet aircraft which were being developed by our enemies. Bell Labs proposed a guided missile which could follow a target, even if it performed evasive maneuvers.

When the Soviets developed long range bombers, followed by the nuclear bomb, there was an immediate concern that these bombers could be used to deliver nuclear payloads. The Nike system was hastily pushed into production, to be used a final defense against such war birds. The missile sites were placed in rings around the area meat to be defended. Often, the federal government had to go to court in order to obtain the property needed for such sites.

One of the largest rings was in the NY/NJ area, possessing almost 20 individual missile sites, many in heavily populated areas because of the short range of the Ajax missile which was the original Nike missile. Across the United States nearly 250 sites were constructed in the United States as well as in many NATO nations in Europe & Asia.

A “Typical” Nike Site

A “typical” Nike air defense site consisted of two things: the Integrated Fire Control (IFC) Area & the launcher area. The IFC contained the radar and computer systems designed to detect aircraft, and to guide the missiles. The Launcher area contained heavily constructed underground missile “magazines”. A large, missile elevator brought the Nikes to the surface of the site where they would be pushed (manually) by crewmen, across twin steel rails to one of four satellite launchers. The missile was then attached to its launcher and erected to a near-vertical position for firing. The near-vertical firing position ensured that the missile’s booster rocket (lower stage) would not crash directly back onto the missile site, but, instead, would land within a predetermined “booster impact area”.

Guidance & Control

Nike was guided entirely from the ground. The electronic “eyes” (radar) and “brain” (computer) of the Nike system were located on the ground, within the IFC. Hostile aircraft were first identified by means of an acquisition radar (ACQR). This radar was manned 24 hours per day, scanning the skies for indications of any hostile aircraft. Having acquired and positively identified a hostile aircraft, a second radar, the Target Tracking Radar (TTR) would be aimed at and electronically locked onto it. This radar would then follow the selected aircraft’s every move in spite of any evasive action taken by its pilot. A third radar, the Missile Tracking Radar (MTR) was then aimed at and electronically locked onto an individual Nike missile located at the nearby Launcher Area.

Both the TTR and MTR were linked to a guidance computer located at the IFC Area. This analog computer continuously compared the relative positions of both the targeted aircraft and the missile during its flight and determined the course the missile would have to fly in order to reach its target. Steering commands were computed and sent from the ground to the missile during its flight, via the Missile Tracking Radar. At the moment of closest approach the missile’s warhead would be detonated by a computer generated “burst command” sent from the ground via the MTR.

For surface-to-surface shots, the coordinates of the target were dialed into the computer and the height of burst was set by crew members at the Launcher Area. The standard technique was for the missile’s guidance signal to be terminated as it dove vertically onto its target. Detonation of the warhead was via the pre-set barometric fusing. Alternately (and presumably as a back-up system) the warhead could be exploded via contact fusing when it impacted the selected target or target area.

End Of The Nike Era

Nike was created in response to Russian efforts to design and deploy long-range bomber aircraft during the early years of the Cold War. Their strategy soon focused more on ICBMs, a threat for which there was no defense. This made Nike less necessary as a defense system, and beginning in the mid 1960s, the total number of operational Nike bases was steadily reduced on an almost annual basis.

The signing of the SALT I treaty in Moscow during the spring of 1972 limited the number of missiles with ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) capabilities. Nike Hercules, due to its limited capabilities against certain types of ballistic missiles, was included in this treaty. During 1974, all remaining sites within the nationwide Nike air defense system were inactivated. One of the nation’s most significant Cold War air defense programs had come to an end.

In spite of the termination of the nationwide Nike program, Nike missiles remained operational at sites in Florida and Alaska for several more years. Others remained operational with U.S. forces in Europe and the Pacific, and with the armed forces of many U.S. Allies overseas. Although no longer in the U.S. inventory, more than four decades after the first Nike missile became operational in the U.S., Nike Hercules missiles are today deployed by the armed forces of U.S. allies in Europe and Asia, and are likely to remain in service well beyond the year 2000.

The WWII Submarine Watchtower

This watchtower was used as a lookout to spot German subs during WWII. According to Cape May County Park employees, a sub was spotted and sunk in Delaware Bay. Supposedly it’s still there to this day they say… The tower is completely inaccessible at this time, however there are plans to renovate it and open it to the public by 2007.




The Cornfield Cruiser

Known locally as the Cornfield Cruiser, there is a naval building in Moorsetown with a Battleship command tower on top. It sticks out like a sore thumb among the farms and open stretches of road.


The Machine Guns of Fort Lee

In Fort Lee outside boro hall, there is a War Veterans Memorial. Next to the monument itself sit two WWI French Hatch Kiss machine guns.



a remnant from Camp Merritt? or the Rionda estate?

Related Pages:

My experience in the NJ Palisades

Manuel Rionda’s Stone Tower: A large medieval looking tower which was part of an estate that stretched to the edge of the Palisades Cliffs

There are tunnels and underground chambers in various places thruout the Palisades.

Hitler’s Rock Profile: A 160 ft tall profile of Hitler appeared on the cliffs of the Palisades during WWII

Complete history of the Palisades: A detailed summary of the history of the Palisades.

In an old cemetery in the Palisades is the grave of a fellow named “Whack me Jug”


A park cleanup in Creskill revealed an old stone bridge. It is speculated that this bridge goes back to the days of Camp Merritt, a large army base that operated during WWI. If you look at the maps on the Cresskill boro webpage the location of the bridge doesn’t fall within the confines of the Camp boundary. It is speculated that this bridge may have actually been part of the Manuel Rionda estate.

Camp Merritt

Camp Merritt was an army camp built in 1917 along the Cresskill-Dumont border. It was 770 acres in size. Troops traveled here from other parts of the country, then traveled to Hoboken, and from there went to Europe to fight in WWI. In 1918 a deadly flu epidemic broke out, with many victims dying in 24 hours of saturated lungs. The epidemic typically lasted 3 weeks then went away. The Camp asked that they not send any troops out till the epidemic cleared but men were needed at the front lines, and their requests were ignored.

Men collapsed as they marched to the ferries; doctors tried to screen out the sick once they arrived in Hoboken. It was impossible to eliminate all the sick and some made it onto boats headed for Europe. The bunks were 4 high; the nurses couldn’t climb to the sick men; the sick soldiers couldn’t climb down, and many died in their bunks halfway to Europe. The Camp was immediately quarantined until the end of the war. The camp suffered 3 fires, each of which destroyed hundreds of buildings. The camp was closed in 1921, according to this page on the Creskill boro website.

There is a giant monument within a circle at the top of the hill between Cresskill & Dumont.

The following detailed information was obtained from a pamphlet about the dedication of the Camp.

CAMP MERRITT was situated ten miles northwest of New York City, on a ridge midway between the towns of Cresskill and Dumont, Bergen County, New Jersey. It occupied an area of 770 acres, 580 acres of which were occupied by the camp proper. The remaining 190 acres were taken up by warehouses, railway areas, an athletic field, and a truck garden of some 60 acres which produced a large quantity of garden truck for the various messes. The camp was one mile long and three-quarters of a mile wide.

It had the following buildings:
611 two-story, 6o-man barracks.
189 lavatories.
165 company kitchens and mess halls.
40 two-story battalion officers, quarters.
4 one-story battalion officers’ quarters
17 administration buildings.
15 post exchanges.
39 warehouses.
4 fire station houses.
5 garages.
93 hospital buildings.
94 miscellaneous buildings.
28 welfare organization buildings.
Total 1314

Capacity of the camp:
Officers ……………………..2,000
Enlisted men ………… 40,000
Total………………………. 42,000

143 miles of concrete road was constructed in camp, and 3.6 miles outside. Railway spur and trackage about four miles from the West Shore Railway. Water supply from the Hackensack Water Company’s supply at New Milford, 2-1/2 miles from camp; 12-inch main throughout the camp, with a total of 19 miles of pipe. A disposal camp at New Milford for sewerage, 2-1/2 miles from camp; two trunk line sewers in camp, to inches, 3 miles in length, with 10 miles of smaller sewers. The septic tank’s capacity at New Milford was 725,000 gallons.

260 miles of wiring, 1029 poles, 235 street lamps, 29,000 lamps in buildings, is the story of the electric installation. This was the only camp in which every building was painted. A total of 6,500,000 square feet of surface painted, using 40,000 gallons of paint.

The personnel necessary to operate the camp at its maximum (at the time of signing the Armistice) was approximately 500 officers, 7,000 enlisted men. The building of the camp started in August 1917, the Cost approximating $11,000,000. The first troops to arrive were Company F, 22nd Infantry, 65 men all told, on August 30, ‘1917. The 49th Infantry arrived September 17, 1917, strength 2,010 all told. As there were no buildings then ready,. these troops were quartered under canvas, about a mile north of the camp on the old race-track.
The first troops to arrive for overseas duty were the 501st, the 502nd, the 503rd, and the 504th Battalions of Engineers, which arrived between October 1 and 8, 1917. The last troops to arrive at Camp Merritt from overseas consisted of a Casual Attachment of 9 officers and 400 enlisted men, who arrived on January 26, 1920.

Camp Merritt was the camp of the Casuals, over 200,000 of which passed through it on their way to the War. For the purpose of administration, the camp was divided into 7 Districts, a permanent officer known as District Commander in command of each District. A Liaison Officer was stationed at each railway station to direct troops to camp


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