Posted March 19, 2009 by lostinjersey in Jersey History, Nike Bases, Passaic. Tagged: nike base, nj. 7 Comments
detailed info on the Wayne Nike base
One part of the Nike base has been converted into ugly ugly townhouses. The other part is near a traffic circle and from I hear, there’s really nothing there to see. Anyone with info, please respond.
Posted by Al Hodges on October 15, 2012 at 9:12 PM
The radar was sited on top of the rocky ledge (20 ft high) along the north side of the intersection of Alps Road and Ratzer Road. The radar could be seen while decsending the Riverdale hill on Rt23 South. I have a very distinct memory of looking up from a car on Ratzer Road in the early 60’s, and seeing the large radar (a large black thick “T” shape) rotating on it’s short squat tower, with an armed guard standing there. The rader tower remained for many years, but is long since gone.
Posted by Richard Levine on March 28, 2011 at 8:47 AM
Yes every Nike site had a launch area, and a control area with radars and the computer. There were also barracks, administration buildings, housing for married soldiers, a recreation area, motor pool, generator buildings, fueling area for Ajax missiles which required liquid fuel, a warheading building, a missile assembly building, and a PX (store where the soldiers could buy basic necessities). The Mahwah Nike base had about a two-mile separation between the Control Area and the Launch Area. This was necessary because the missile tracking radar would otherwise not be able to elevate fast enough if the launch area was right next to the control area. That was a limitation of these early radars—very mechanical. The Army used a need-to-know basis for soldiers that limited them to the area that they received training in. This was especially true when the Hercules missiles with top secret nuclear warheads were installed. When they arrived an additional barbed-wire fence was installed, and MPs with vicious sentry dogs were added to patrol the area. The MPs were authorized to shoot to kill, and the dogs were also trained to kill. They had some problems retraining the dogs when the bases closed. When they couldl not be retrained, they were put down.
Posted by Bill Sisti on September 20, 2010 at 10:55 PM
I think every radar installation had a corresponding launch site. I think the launch site for this tower was along rt23, just north of ratzer road and south of jackson ave. This is easily researched ,,do a google search
Posted by Al Hodges on October 15, 2012 at 9:00 PM
The launch site was indeed along Rt23, but further south. It was behind the retail store on the east side of Rt23 on the hill south of the Pacanack Lake traffic light. There is a small access road along the south sie of the store. Many of the buildings remain. The site is being used by Passaic Ciuty.
Posted by Richard M. Levine on September 20, 2010 at 8:43 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.
Posted by Bill Sisti on March 28, 2010 at 12:54 PM
I grew up in that area(early 70’s) and remember just the radar towers being there along with the old barracks used by FDU. We used to climb the towers at night to admire the spectacular views. At the base of the towers was a large cement cap in the ground secured by bolts every 3 inches..We used to think it was the entrance to the missle silos.
Posted by John on March 19, 2009 at 11:23 AM
I served at that NIKE Base from 1968 ~ 1972. I was a radar operator. The towers you climbed were in fact just that…towers for the variety of radar systems we used. Can’t help you much with the launch area. We weren’t allowed in that area.
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