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.

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41 responses to this post.

  1. you can always count on Universal Studios when you want some great action.,

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  2. Posted by Richard M. Levine on May 27, 2016 at 7:56 AM

    Bergen county had plans to paint one of the radar towers and make it into an observation tower. That would have been great, but they ran out of funding. The former mayor of Mahwah, Richard Martel used to go up on the tower and enjoy the view towards NYC. He said that he always wondered what if the Soviets attacked.

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  3. Posted by David Fellows on May 26, 2016 at 7:45 PM

    Ah yes…I also grew up in Oakland NJ and recall hiking to the Nike base with friends. Recall seeing the towers and we found the silos. Quite an adventure for kids at the time.

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  4. Posted by Richard M. Levine on July 31, 2013 at 7:14 AM

    Does anyone know anything about the 1963 shooting death of Pfc Richard E. McClish by another Pfc at this base? If so, please contact me at levine1945@gmail.com

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  5. Posted by Richard M. Levine on December 21, 2012 at 8:16 AM

    They are finally working on the Nike Base exhibit at the Mahwah Museum on Franklin Turnpike. It should open in February of 2013. Stay tuned for the announcements.

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  6. Posted by Richard M. Levine on December 10, 2011 at 8:30 AM

    Any veterans out there who served at the Mahwah Nike Base who still live in Mahwah?
    If so, I would like them to contact me so that I can find out what stories they have to tell. I am in preliminary discussions with the Mahwah Museum regarding a display and discussion about the Nike Base to be held in September 2012. I am still looking for items to put on display. I already donated several items to the Museum including: a period CD Geiger counter, a training course catalogue from Ft. Bliss, TX, a small aluminum contractor’s desk Nike Hercules missile model, a science fiction book regarding Nike Hercules missiles written by a former veteran of this base, and various photographs of the base from the period and after they closed.

    One of the veterans donated his green dress Army uniform that he wore when he worked at the base. He also submitted stories of when he worked there.

    I’ve also submitted details about the base to the Trail Conference, which expects to use it in a publication they are preparing.

    The museum volunteers were surprised when I told them about the nuclear warheads used at the base. They found it hard to believe that the Army would use nuclear warheads against attacking bombers. I guess that this was a very well-kept secret at the time. In total these were probably several times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The rule of this period was only to say that I can not confirm or deny that there are nuclear weapons at any particular location. This was top secret information.

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    • Posted by Marc lerner on December 20, 2012 at 11:00 PM

      I am trying to find out the exact location of the Franklin Lakes Nike launch site .
      I know the IFC is now a horse stable.
      If anyone has any further info. Please contact me
      Thanks

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      • Posted by Richard M. Levine on December 21, 2012 at 7:55 AM

        The Launch Area was in Mahwah. The Control Area atop Campgaw mountain in Franklin Lakes, which is now a horseback riding center. If you Google DeGraff Ct. Mahwah, NJ map, switch to a satellite view and zoom in, you will see a N to S grassy, tree-less rectangle, That is where four of the six missile magazines were. Two additional magazines were attached and N of the four. They are under the Rio Vista upscale houses. North of that were the other buildings: missile assembly building, war-heading building fueling area, administrative building, generator building, and sentry do kennels. To the E were the 24 three bedroom ranch homes for married non-comissioned officers and officers. No trees have grown in the rectangular area because the deer eat the tree saplings. You can not reach this rectangle via going through private property, which would be easier and simpler. You have to go through the county archery range, and take your chances with arrows, wild animals and Lyme ticks. I understand from a deer hunter, who hunts there that the most dangerous thing is the ticks. I hiked through there with my son to see the site and take pictures. The only thing left to see is a section of the double, barbwire-topped cyclone fence on the S side. The missile magazines and buildings were demolished, filled in and densely grassed over. The two magazines on Rio Vista property were supposedly demolished by the developer’s contractor. The four magazines on county property were supposedly demolished by the Army Corps of Engineers. The reason I say supposedly is the the Corps records for this base are incomplete, and they do not have a record of paying a contractor to demolish the structures in the area. Contamination of the area is a very sensitive issue as people get extremely upset when that is mentioned. However, since the records are incomplete and contradictory it is not completely clear
        what was done. Some former Nike sites have had different levels of contamination,most having very little, if any. Some requiring extensive remediation. The reason given for demolishing the missile magazine and other structures was that they presented a hazard. Children used to play in the area, and that would have presumably been a hazard to them. I have some 1958 aerial photos of the area from 150-foot altitude taken by the Army Signal Corps. However, some of the veterans who served there, and some of the Nike historians/experts do not believe the photos to be of this area. Since the site was undergoing renovations to prepare it to upgrade to Nike Hercules missiles at the time, these photos could be the Mahwah Nike site.

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    • Posted by Tom Morrison on April 25, 2015 at 5:58 PM

      I served with a guy by the name of Kurt Thiel. He was stationed in Mahwah as a 95-bravo, that’s an MP. He was transfered to Dexheim, Germany and ended his service time there in 1969. I served with him in Germany and became friends with him, because I was from Paterson and knew of the base in Mahwah. I see Kurt and if you want some info about the base, I’m sure he would love to talk to you.

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  7. Posted by Victor on December 10, 2011 at 2:00 AM

    Richard, year later comes my reply. I live on top of launching area. Historicaerials has very good pictures of the base through the years and I can see that the builder put one of the condo buildings on top of the bunker.

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  8. Posted by Richard M. Levine on December 4, 2011 at 10:02 AM

    A few acres of land in Mahwah NJ used to house a US Army Nike missile launching base with underground missile magazines—reinforced concrete and nearby blacktop. It was demolished around 1990. Today the field is very dense grass, but no trees. There were a long list of possible contaminants at Nike missile sites around the country including perchlorate, tricholroethylene, hydraulic fluid, radioactive material ?, diesel fuel, arsenic, chromium, lead, asbestos, etc. Why are there no trees growing on this property after all these years? This is a mystery to me, and I have years of gardening experience. What would allow grass to grow, but not allow trees to grow????

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  9. Posted by Richard M. Levine on November 17, 2011 at 9:28 AM

    I am looking for veterans who served at this Nike Base who want to provide me with a living history recording (video with audio on cd or memory card) of their memories of working at this base.

    I want to provide this to the Mahwah Museum expected display of the base expected sometime in September 2011. It would also be submitted to the local Ramapo College history department as an important part of local history. I might also be able to use some of the veterans stories in a book I am writing.

    I also am looking for memorabilia from veterans who served at this Nike base for the Mahwah Museum display.

    Blazing Skies!

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  10. Posted by cmchickie on November 16, 2011 at 11:58 PM

    When the Nike base in Mahwah closed down Myself and my family lived there from 1984 till 1989. Then we got kicked out of the base housing us and the rest of the families that lived there cause Mahwah didn’t want us there anymore. My father Sgt. Robert G. Vuinovich fought the town to have us stay and they refused. We used to go up to the missile sight and all and hang out. I was really sad that we had to leave. It was a quaint community there. But it really sucked that Mahwah figured we weren’t Million dollar homes so we had to go.

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    • Posted by Richard M. Levine on November 17, 2011 at 9:21 AM

      Sorry to hear that you had a bad experience with the town. That is about the time that the Rio Vista upscale housing was built or expanded over the former Nike base missile Launch Area and housing area. The 1% usually get their way. There were always conflicts with this town and others, which generally did not want cheaper housing in their town, and especially near their upscale housing.

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    • Posted by Richard M. Levine on December 10, 2011 at 8:54 AM

      CMCHICKIE,

      Do you have any photos of the area when you and your family were there?

      Thanks!
      Richard (levine1944@verizon.net)

      Reply

  11. Posted by Mike on March 27, 2011 at 1:46 PM

    Interesting hearing about the Nike sights in Bergen County. I grew up in Oakland and as young kids we would explore the radar sight after the military closed it down. Lots of buildings to explore. We also used to climb the towers and have our lunch at the top of the towers. I remember 3 towers-two large, one smaller. Great views from the top of the tower! There was always rumors from kids about the silos were buried under the buildings and there was 30 foot long spiders from the radiation. Didn’t find the silos until years later when the housing unit in Mahwah was closed down and we went to check it out. I remember the silo doors welded shut as well as the access hatches. We dropped pebbles down some open cracks and heard water. Ground water must have filled in. Several building were still up as well as the fencing.

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    • Mike –

      Thanks for the update. The 6 magazines (aka silos) were demolished, filled in, the soil on top was graded and seeded. I am still checking into who demolished which of the six magazines. One story is that the developers demolished all the silos, another story is that the developers demolished 2 magazines and the Corps of Engineers demolished the other 4. The Corps say that they have no record of them demolishing any of the magazines. Anyhow, since they are all demolished and so are the old Army houses, there is nothing to see at the location. I took a hike there via the counnty archery range, and there is nothing left to see there except very thick growth of grass from the seeding. Some veterans visited in the past from time-to-time, but now there is nothing left for them to see. I did a presentation about the site to an historical group at the Hermitage in Hohokus, in conjunction with a former lieutenant who had been there while in the Army and a local historian who had studied the site since he was nine years old. The presentation was well attended. I am still working on a book about the double site, and am still collecting information for the book.

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    • Posted by Mike on March 28, 2011 at 7:35 AM

      It may take some digging through old boxes, but I remember taking pictures of the magazine (silo) sight before it was demolished. I’ll let you know if I’m able to locate them.

      Mike

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      • Thanks for looking! I have some photos prior to demolition from a US Army Corps of Engineers environmental study and recommendation. But these are not very good quality. There was some contamination in the magazine water which was not noted in a later report—inconsistent reports. This involved arsenic, chromium, lead, and cadmium. The water was apparently just pumped out on the land under the assumption that it was not contaminated. I am still expecting a report from the EPA about who demolished the magazines. George made a movie of the site while he worked there for the Army, but it does not have any audio. I finally got in touch with the Army Signal Corps historian who may help if she receives permission from her manager. If you look on YouTube, they have several Nike missile videos there which might interest you.

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  12. Posted by Richard Levine on November 3, 2010 at 7:03 AM

    Which part of the Nike site do you live on top of? The battery control area/IFC or the launching area?

    I believe that living on top of the launching area is more problematic, since there is the possibility of many more toxic contaminants like hydraulic fluid, metals like lead, acids, pcbs, jet fuel, diesel fuel, radioactive material, tricholroethylene, etc.

    One homeowner who lives in a luxury home on top of the Mahwah base launching area says that there have been no adverse effects to her or her family who have lived there for approximately 20 years. However, some of the veterans who worked there suspect a cancer cluster. They indicated that they sat on top of the missiles while they cleaned them. They also claimed hearing problems from the high noise levels in the launching area.

    In 2004 several veterans attempted a class-action lawsuit for having cancer clusters from having worked as radar techs. on the Nike and Hawk systems. However, the federal court in El Paso, TX would not approve the class action. The lawyers, who instituted the case said that they would handle the cancer cases on a case–by-case basis.

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  13. Posted by Victor on November 2, 2010 at 10:02 PM

    Very interesting . I live on top of nike missile site in East Hanover any info on that site

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    • Posted by Richard M. Levine on May 4, 2012 at 6:28 AM

      There was a historical journal article recently found in the East Hanover townhall. If you send your email address I can email it to you. It was written by a Richard Ford, who may possibly be the famous novelist/short-story writer. I am checking into this.

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  14. Posted by Richard M. Levine on September 20, 2010 at 8:42 PM

    I am researching the Franklin Lakes-Mahwah Nike site. I would like to know more about maintaining the nuclear warheads and what that entailed. I read somewhere else that the warheads were wiped, and that the wipes were put into a lead container to be later sent for analysis. Other veterans said that a geiger counter was used only in the missile assembly area. Anyone ever hear about radiation contamination in the missile magazines or elsewhere? Or about containerized radioactive waste?

    I also read in a pub from Los Alamos that these early warheads did not have a sophisticated metalurgy. I took this to mean that the intense radiation from the plutonium deteriorated the warhead casing eventually causing it to leak.

    One of the veterans I interviewed noted that another veteran is investigating a suspected cancer cluster among veterans who used to work there.

    Thanks!

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  15. Posted by Richard Levine on June 25, 2010 at 8:33 AM

    George—Former Nike Site Executive Officer

    Can you get in touch with me? levine1944@verizon.net I might do a Nikie Hercules presentation for the Mahwah Museum. You might be able to help with that.

    I worked as an IFC tech on Naha AFB on Okinawa.

    Thanks!

    Richard Levine

    Reply

  16. Posted by Richard Levine on June 25, 2010 at 8:31 AM

    George—Former Nike Site Executive Officer

    Can you get in touch with me? levine1944@verizon.net I might do a Nikie Hercules presentation for the Mahwah Museum. You might be able to help with that.

    Thanks!

    Richard Levine

    Reply

  17. Posted by Jessi on November 30, 2009 at 8:55 PM

    Hello!

    I plan on finding Pleasureland myself, so a few hints would be super!
    Also, the Midnight Walker passed away, so you won’t be able to find him. =(

    Reply

  18. Posted by Mike on March 19, 2009 at 11:19 AM

    I’M not 100% on this but as for the fate of the mahwah NIKE missile silo, it is now a bunch of VERY upscale homes that have a great view of the mountains. there is nothing left(at least above ground) however i hear that one personel bldg has converted for other uses & radar tower foundations can still be found at campgaw mountain

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  19. Posted by Kris on March 19, 2009 at 11:18 AM

    May times did I benefit from the privacy these houses gave to me. Anyway, in addition to the houses there were the launch bunkers that were still intact as well as the missile silos. I spent may hours in that base. In the early part of 2000-2001 Habituate for humanity proposed the plan to restore the homes for half way houses. This quickly was fought by the housing development.

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  20. Posted by Kris on March 19, 2009 at 11:18 AM

    The houses that were surrounding the base were multi million dollar homes, and needless to say the homeowners did not want their property values to go down. The town of Mahwah decided to put the property up for sale in a closed bid. Rio Vista estates, won the bid. Now the land is fully developed into residential property. Just though I would share my first hand account of what happened. If any one would like to discuss my memories, email me.

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  21. Posted by Mike on March 19, 2009 at 11:03 AM

    IN THE MID 80’S, MY FRIEND’S DAD WAS IN THE ARMY AND LIVING AT THE HOUSING IN FROMT OF THE MISSLE BASE. AS TEENAGERS WE WENT TO EXPLORE THIS AREA. THE SILO’S ARE WELDED SHUT. I WAS TOLD IF YOU COULD OPEN THEM, YOU WOULD FIND THEY ARE FILLED WITH WATER. TODAY, THE AREA I AM TOLD HAS BEEN TURNED INTO LOW INCOME HOUSING(DO NOT KNOW IF THE SILO’S ARE STILL THERE. IT IS LOCATED OFF OF CAMPGAW ROAD BETWEEN THE CEMETARY AND ROUTE 287

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  22. Posted by George on March 19, 2009 at 11:03 AM

    I was stationed at the Nike site in Franklin Lakes as the Executive Officer from 1960 to 1962 and had some first hand experiences with the locals and some stories. When the base was built, the launcher area off of Campgaw Road had to be connected to the Radar Area (IFC) by numerous communication cables. The shortest route, about one mile, was a straight line through the woods where the Jackson Whites lived. The cables were cut numerous times resulting in an expensive seven mile detour along the roads. I was told the Jackson Whites were the descendants of Hessian soldiers who deserted from the revolutionary war and brought black slaves with them to their colony in the woods. I personally saw a woman with a terribly disfigured face and was told it was the result of centuries of in-breeding. During my assignment a small girl shot and killed her grandmother. This was in the papers. We warned all of our soldiers not to travel up the dirt Fike Road into their area. I visited the base about six months ago and the IFC area is easy to find as described by others. The old access road to the launcher area has been demolished and planted over with a new road into the million dollar housing development. Up that road at the crest of a hill you can see an open area the size of a football field behind a few houses. That is the site of the six launch pits that contains dozens of nuclear armed missiles. To the best of my knowledge, the pits are still there, filled in with dirt. No houses could be built there because of the 20 feet of reinforced concrete just a few feet below the surface. I have a home movie of the missiles in the area if you are interested.

    Only the buildings at the old radar site remain as part of the horse stable area. All the towers are gone but a few footings can be found. Further down the stable access road the mess hall foundations exist and some of the second radar site footings can be found in the underbrushI did not try to access the launcher area through a backyard but that should be possible. I assume all the above ground equipment traces are gone and the pits filled in and covered.Fike Road has been paved and is the entrance to a county park so it should be safe now. There also was a Catholic seminary adjacent to the launcher area and the priests would stand outside our fence and take photos of our activities. I don’t know its status.

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  23. Posted by Joe on March 19, 2009 at 11:02 AM

    First, I want to give you a shout out for being in Bogota… I moved from Bogota in 1997, but I had grown up there from the day I was born (which was only 1986, but still). Nice call on that rail station in RP… never really put much thought into it. Also, I know you want to find that Nike missile base up in Franklin Lakes/Mahwah: I have a friend of mine who lives up there and used to wander through the old base as a kid. I myself haven’t had a chance to check it out, but I probably will do it sometime this summer. He said that recently a lot of the equipment has been covered over. On the Franklin Lakes side, a lot of the old buildings are now being used as stables for a horse riding farm. It’s pretty easy to get up here… Take 208 North to Ewing Ave. (gravity rd).

    Make a right at the ramp to get on Ewing. You’ll hit a light and that’s Franklin Ave Make a left onto Franking. Keep going on Franklin until you get to the middle school… the street at the light right before the school is Pulis Ave… make a right on Pulis. Follow Pullis down a ways until you hit Bridle Way, which is easy to find because the sign for the Saddle River Horse Farm is right there. You’ll go under a ramp and once you pass that, make a right to continue on Bridle. Now until I check for myself, I’m into 100% sure… but as you come up Bridle you can make a right onto Pony, and I believe that’s an easy way to get to the farm itself. But don’t do that: go straight up that hill, find a spot to park, and then go wandering in the woods. you’ll pass into Mahwah and that’s where the launcher is. Also, I noticed that you found the “Get out” house, which is, as one of your readers posted, just a pump or something owned by Ridgewood water.

    I suggest you go back there and find the odd, dome-shaped thing that’s like a mini water tower or something. It’s just above ground level and whoever put it in is trying to cover it with evergreens. It looks like a UFO at night if you’re into really paying attention. In the meantime, I would appreciate if you could give me some better directions to Pleasureland in Oakland: I don’t know too many kids form there and Ramapo HS (my school) and our regional sister Indian Hills don’t get along too well, so I’ll be hard-pressed to find the right directions in Oakland. Just perusing your site some more and see that you like those phony wireless trees… On your way up to Franklin Lakes, be sure to check out the one on Route 20 at Cedar Hill Ave… You can’t miss it. Additionally, I don’t know if you caught it, but the mad rapper was featured in The Record’s “Picture This!” photo essay that appears every Monday in the Local section. I don’t remember when, but it was a few months ago.

    Sorry I’m bored and it’s late, so here are just 2 more quick hits in Wyckoff… There’s a story I had found on another site some years ago about a lost cemetery in Wyckoff, but I haven’t been able to find anything on it since. There are about 15 churches in town, and it’s behind one of them… which, I don’t know. Also, the best thing in Wyckoff is the Midnight Walker. This guy is a trooper. Rain or shine, he is out on the Route 208 ramp at Russell Ave. walking at exactly midnight. Seems to appear from no where. Has very creepy eyes as well. Ok, done for now, hope to hear from you soon, because it’s my last summer before college and I need some crazy stuff to do!

    Reply

    • Posted by stephen boerum on May 8, 2012 at 12:07 AM

      I am really interested in the midnight walker on russel ave and 208.im from the area and never heard about this. Im into the wierd,true and freaky.
      \

      Reply

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