Nike sites in Washington State and Travis AFB

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From Mark Morgan
- Nikes sites in State of Washington and near Travis Air Force Base in mid California
For the record, I started doing these trip reports in early 1989, and now send out approx. 30 to other historians, museums, and nutcases such as yours truly. MK.

Seattle Defense Area - As long as we're on the subject ... the Army installed 11 batteries around the Puget Sound, protecting the industrial, financial and transportation center of the Northwest (plus Sicks Stadium and the Rainier Brewery). The first went on line around late 1955, and the last shut down in March 1974.

As mentioned previously, only three of the sites converted to Hercules. Seattle therefore went from a one brigade/two Regular Army/ two Guard battalion defense - with an AN/FSG-1 Missile Master at Fort Lawton - to a one group/one RA/ one WAArNG defense. The Missile Masteron the hill at Lawton was replaced by the AN/GSG-65 BIRDIE.

The brigade was the 31st, at McChord AFB, which transferred to Lockport AFS, NY, in December 1961; McChord also Hosted HQ Seventh ARADCOM Region from July 1960 to 1 April 1966. The groups assigned were the 26th Artillery Group (AD) (12/61-3/66) and the 49th ADA Group (3/66-8/74).

At the time of ARADCOM's shutdown, the surviving batteries in the defense area were S-13 Redmond (WAArNG A/2/205th), S-61 Vashon (WAArNGB/2/205th), and S-92 Kingston (C/1/4th) (03 Jan 98).

S-03 Bothell/Kenmore - The launch site is located east of Brierat 130 228th Street SW, west of I-405. An eight launcher Ajax site, operations were closed out by the Guard's A/2/205th in March 1964. The Army Reserve has a center on the site which is new construction; the launch area is now utilized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as its Region X Headquarters. Precious little here to indicate the former use; I asked for permission to shoot the former pads and was directed to submit a copy of Form XX to FEMA Headquarters in DC. Oh well ... I took some shots from outside the fence.

The former control site is now Horizon Heights Park, immediately south of Brier, at the intersection of 47th Avenue NE and 201st Place. Except for some asphalt, there's nothing remaining (02 Jan 90).

The site hasn't changed much since my last visit, on 2 January 1990 (Texas Across the Skagit Tours 89-90); in other words, it's hardly recognizable and dominated by the Army Reserve Center and FEMA Region X headquarters. Again, word is FEMA uses portions of the Nike magazines, and there are a couple of smallish cinderblock buildings, but otherwise the site's been cleaned off and modified.

Sierra Zero-Three was a two magazine, eight launcher Nike Ajax installation. Of the 11 firing batteries in the Seattle Defense Area, it was one of eight not converted to Hercules. The operating units for the battery were C/28th (/56-9/58), C/2/43d (9/58-6/59), and WAArNG A/2/205th (6/59-3/64).

S-03C was located at the intersection of 47th Avenue Northeastern 201st Place, is now Horizon Heights Park and has been completely obliterated (04 Aug. 98).

S-13/14 Redmond - Redmond was a major site, with six magazines/24 launchers, and served as a headquarters and Hercules site until the Seattle shutdown in 1974.

The control area is located on top of a hill in northeast Redmond, at the end of 95th Street, off 171s Avenue NE. The site is intact, with multiple buildings and two of the radar plats. The Army Guard owns two buildings in one corner near the gate; the remainder are scheduled to be torn down and replaced with housing. Considering the size and completeness of the installation, it's a shame it can't be retained for historical purposes. However, this is Seattle...

Launch is about 1.5 east, at the end of 95th Street off Avondale Road. I pulled up to a locked gate, two buildings visible and the road to the launchers disappearing up the hill. Rats ... I drove into the nursery next door for (hopefully) a better angle; the caretaker said the nursery owner also owned the site and he'd be glad to let me in. Yahoo! The magazines and support buildings are intact; the former are terraced into the hill with a two-story observation tower across the access road, enabling a clear view of all 24 launchers. During the conversion from Ajax to Hercules, 1958-59, only 11 of the launchers were modified; it appears that these were the upper launchers (02 Jan 90).

S-20 Cougar Mountain - this one takes some getting to; Cougar Mountain is to the west of Issaquah and is southeast of Bellevue. The control site is at the summit of the mountain and is now Cougar Mountain Park. Rick and I took a look at it in August 1988 while I was onACDUTRA with HC-9; at that time it appeared there was nothing remaining. This time i went up there and discovered the park was closed.

The launcher is approx 1.2 SE, at the end of 166th Way SE in Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. The road ends with a gate (past the signs that say "danger! large Trucks! No trespassing!"). I saw signs that ID's the area as part of King County Parks, so I kept going ... if you climb over the gate and walk up the mud road about 700 yards, the site is on the right.

S-20 was Ajax only, eight launchers, and was closed in 1964. It has pretty much been the way, walking up the road, I noticed a sign that said DANGER in big red said that the area had poisonous gas that couldn't be smelled, so stay away from any mine openings. Wonderful! (20 Jan 90).

S-32/S-33 Lake Youngs - Lake Youngs featured a dual launch facility of 24 launchers with separate control sites, similar to LA-70/LA-73 in Los Angeles. Ajax operations were suspended at the sites by the 4/60th in December 1961.

S-33C is located southeast of Renton at 14631 SE 192d; current owner is the Army Reserve, which operates the 104th Division (Training) Drill Sergeant School. The buildings are intact and the locations of the radars are easy to determine.

S-32C is at the corner of 192d and SE 184th Street, about 1.5 northeast of the other radar site. The King County Sheriff's Department runs several operations from the remaining buildings; I asked for permission to shoot (hmmm...probably a bad choice of terms on my part), and they asked me to take the pictures from outside the gate. The launcher is located at the end of 174th Avenue SE, roughly one mile NNE of -32C. Ownership is divided between the Maple Valley Christian School and the South King County Activity Center. The buildings are intact and in good condition; the large launch area has been exposed to 28 years of northwest weather and is pretty well green and moldy. I opened one of the crew access doors and found the magazine was flooded...(02 Jan 90).

S-43/45 Kent/Midway - This was the first Seattle Defense Area Nike site I ever visited, dating to my August 1988 AcDu with HC-9 at McChord. Brother Rick came down over the weekend and in and around his showing me the rail facilities of Tacoma, I convinced him to let me checkout the Kent site. He didn't get out of the truck; I believe his words were, "You've seen one Nike site, you've seen them all."

Anyway, perched high on the ridge overlooking the Green River Valley, and with a magnificent view of the Cascades (and miles and miles of industrial parks and warehouses down below), S-43/45 was a dual firing battery/battalion headquarters. The units assigned were HHB/433d(/56-9/58), D/433d (/55-9/58), HHB/4/60th (9/58-12/61), D/4/60th (9/58-6/59), and WAArNG HHB & B/3/205th 96/59-2/63).

Four-Three Lima is located at the end of South 228th Street, east of Military Road South and north of Kent-Des Moines Road/WA 516. When I came here ten years ago the magazines (1B2C, 10 launchers for Nike Ajax) were still in evidence; they've now been sodded over, although you can still pick out their location. Grandview School is to the immediate west and has what appears to be one surviving Army building in and around the other structures, about the right size for an assembly building but with multiple roll-top doors cut in the east face. Other than that and the old access road - which is blocked off, preventing vehicle access -the site's been obliterated.

Moving south on Military Road takes you past the former housing area, at 240th Street on the west side of Military. The housing is in outstanding condition; signs indicate the units now belong to the King County Housing Authority.

The IFC and battalion headquarters fac is located on 38th Avenue South, where it splits from 36th Avenue. Again, there've been some changes in the last ten years; all of the former ARADCOM building sat the north end were cleared off and replaced by a BIG new National Guard armory. The berms at the extreme north end of the fac, which may have been the location of the Target and Missile Tracking Radars, are still in evidence.

Several old Army cinderblock structures survive at the south end of the compound; one is occupied by the 281st Military Intelligence Company. Down the hill is a large motor pool.

I'd rate this one partially intact. The primary tenant for the site remains the 3/161st Infantry (Mech). (06 Jun 98).

S-61 Vashon Island - Once you get away from the ferry landing on the north tip of the island you're out in the boonies again. The sites are in the south-central portion of the island; control is on 99th Ave SW and serves as a mini industrial park. Primary tenant is Vashon Health Center. The site is intact with the exception of the plats.

Launch is off SW 220th Street and is partially intact. Current use is as the Vashon Island Equestrian Park/Nike Events Center. The launch area was leveled off, covered with dirt and now is used as a riding area. Much to my surprise, there is a complete Nike ajax on the ground next to the assembly building: missile, booster and rail, in original paint with the addition of a Peter Max-ish rainbow on the tail. I'll notify the Golden Gate National Rec Area about it, for possible use at their restored site (that's two Ajaxes I've stumbled across in the past three months) (1 Jan 89).

S-62 Ollala - Well south of Bremerton, across from Vashon island, and now we're getting into the deepest darkest Pacific Northwest. Launcher is SW of town at 7450 Nelson Road; again, my only real clue was the sudden appearance of a paved road into the trees. The site is under private ownership, serves as a combination home/junkyard, guarded by two very large dogs, so i shot twice through the trees and departed. The buildings are still there, no idea what shape the launch area is in. Control is north of town at 12700 Lala Cove Lane, is intact, and serves as the Ollala Guest Lodge, sort of an expensive retreat with a view (NOTE: drug & alcohol abuse retreat) (1 Jan 89).

S-81 Poulsbo - Control is SE of town at 18360 Caldert Ave NE, up behind some new housing (my initial info put me into the houses). Intact with plats, although these have been covered with sheet metal to prevent people from climbing on them. Current use is South Kisap School District admin. are and Frank Raab Municipal Park.

I wasn't able to locate the launch area; it's off Finn Hill Road to the west of town, somewhere up the hill from McDonalds. There's some paved road into the trees in the vicinity of the site, which is gated with the standard "no trespassing - death by booga booga" signs, so I didn't press the issue (1 Jan 89).

This one goes back aways, to my first ever trip report (Great Northern Tour 88-89). Ironically, the last time I was here was 1 January 1989, marking almost exactly nine years on the reattack.

S-81 was one of five Nike Ajax sites built on the west side of the Puget Sound, the others being S-61 Vashon, S-62 Ollala, S-82 Winslow and S-92 Kingston. Constructed with three magazines/12 launchers, the fac was manned by D/433d (9/55-9/56), HHB/513th (/55-9/58), D/513th(9/56-9/58), HHB/4/4th (9/58-10/64) and D/4/4th 99/58-11/60).

Before the gathering at the launch facility I revisited 82-Charlie, east of town at 18360 Caldert Avenue. Yup, pretty much as I remembered; the buildings still serve as the North Kitsap School District's Raab Park, with a few small cinderblock structures. It's a good-sized facility, probably due to its use as a battalion headquarters, and in good shape. Great view of Liberty Bay and the Olympic Mountains, too.

According to an old defense area map, prepared by the S3 section of the 26th Artillery Group (Air Defense), property for government housing was on Serwold Road between 82C and town. I drove through the vicinity briefly and didn't see any former Army homes; what with the wording on the map, I'd guess they were never built.

The map also identifies an Army Field Maintenance Shop across Finn Hill Road from 82-Lima, presumably supporting the three Kitsap County batteries. The building is still there, medium-sized cinderblock with a covered loading dock on one side. It also belongs to the North Kitsap School District.

I waited by the road a few minutes and within short order Craig, Dan Rowbottom and our escort from Olhava Associates, Kent Berryman, arrived. We met at the gate, exchanged greetings, and then proceeded up the road to the former launcher area.

The site is intact but heavily overgrown and moldy; the barracks and other support buildings (well house, assembly building, maintenance shop) were vandalized over the years and are a wreck. The three magazines are stacked in a row and terraced. According to our guide, all three are full of water, which is no surprise.

We walked here and there for about an hour, getting our photos and comparing notes. A couple of items stood out; one was the former generator building at the extreme southwest corner of the installation. It was the only wood frame building on the site and was in very poor condition. I may be wrong, but I don't recall seeing too many frame structures at any of the Nike sites I've visited.

Secondly, Craig stumbled (?) across a large boulder parked by the launcher access road across from the barracks. We walked past once, noted the yellow paint and graffiti (a mushroom, among other things), and poind no mind. Craig took another look on the way out, and lo and behold, underneath the mushroom is a faded Nike ajax and "Bty D" in red paint. We pointed it out to Kent and suggested his company find an appropriate home for this artifact before they start bulldozing the site.

Overall, I'd rate S-81C&L as one of the most intact Nike sites in the Puget Sound. Unfortunately, following the requisite public hearings, the launch are will be bulldozed/filled and converted to other uses. At least we got to see it before it goes away (03 Jan 98).

S-82 Winslow - Control site is south of town at 4900 Rose Ave; partially intact, i.e., a couple of buildings. Current use is Eagledale Park, Bainbridge Parks District. I talked to the caretaker and he said the remaining buildings and plats had been taken out two years ago. Launch is west of town on High School Road and is now Strawberry Hill Park. Again, a few buildings remain; the launcher area was leveled and covered and now serves as playing fields (1 Jan 89).

S-90DC Fort Lawton - If you're a member of CAMP, you should be familiar with the ongoing uproar over this former post...if I remember correctly, Lawton was the first permanent Army post in the Puget Sound; during the course of its operations it served as an infantry and cavalry installation, headquarters for coast defenses, and finally as the AADCP for the Seattle Defenses.

When the Army closed out active operations in 1974, it turned the fort over to the city of Seattle, with the understanding that Seattle would maintain the historic old post buildings. Seattle turned the post into Discovery Wilderness Park, flattening several buildings. Last year, in violation of the agreement, the city started bulldozing the remaining buildings.

Fortunately, an injunction was delivered and further demolition was prevented. The attitude of the city towards the violation of the agreement and the destruction of this historic site ranged from "It's our land and to do with as we see fit," to "We don't want this symbol of militarism in the middle of our fair city." Groan...

Access to the fort is by south or east gates, both leading to parking areas and trails. The park headquarters is near the east gate; the remaining Army Reserve and housing areas are no the hill above headquarters. The road leading into this area is marked "authorized personnel only/violators will be cited." Excuse me while ex-LT Mrogan inadvertently wanders in...

The total remaining buildings number about 15, and are utilized by the 174th General Support Group and the 124th Engineering Battalion. There are two Ajax's mounted in front of the headquarters building. Further up the hill are the FAA air traffic control radar and the former Missile Master/BIRDIE blockhouse. ARADCOM's operations at Fort Lawton included headquarters ops of the 26th and 49th Artillery groups and headquarters of the 4/4th (3/64-9/72) and 1/4th 99/72-7/74) (02 Jan 90).

Been there, done that; see Texas Across the SkagitTours 89-90 for previous comments on this former major Army post. The Army Reserve still occupies a portion of the fort, the city's apparently given up trying to bulldoze the remaining historic Army buildings, and I got another shot of the AN/GSG-5 BIRDIE blockhouse. I was also able to get a better look at the former Air Force radar site, now used by the FAA. The squadron assigned was the 635th RADS (SAGE) (6/61- /62). The buildings appear to be intact.

The CAMP event for the post was the traditional flag raising, on the hill overlooking the remaining structures. We then heard a talk by Sue Jennings of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation; her group played a major role in saving the remainder of the fort from the right-thinking people of Seattle (28 Apr 94).

S-92 Kingston - Control site is north of Kingston at 27044 Ohio Avenue, is intact including the radar plats, and belongs to AGC Laborers Training, whatever that is. Launch site is west of town at 8998 Kingston Road; owner is the North Kitsap County School District and it serves as the Spectrum Alternative Center (special ed center). From what I could see by standing on the top of the truck, the site is intact (1 Jan89).

Three of the 11 batteries in the Seattle Defense were modified for Nike Hercules between June 1958 and March 1961: S-92 was the west side site. It had two magazines/eight launchers, was equipped with HIPAR, and manned by C/513th (/56-9/58), C/4/4th 99/58-9/72),and C/1/4th (9/72-3/74).

And yes, there have been substantial changes since my last visit in 1989. We hit the control site first, at 27055 Ohio Avenue; it continues to serve as the Laborer Training Center for the Associated General Contractors of Washington (i.e., "AGC"). I rated the site as intact in 1989, but over the intervening years the towers have been removed and only a couple of small Army structures remain. The rest of the site is now covered with large brick and tile office/classroom buildings.

Craig and Dan followed me back through town and out on West Kingston Road, booming past the former Army housing in the process (intact, excellent condition, marked for the US government). After getting briefly crossed up ("Typical Morgan goat-rope," as I put it), we found the launcher area. Aha! The gate's open! Aha! There's even less here now than nine years ago.

Sierra Nine-Two Lima is located at 8998 West Kingston and still serves as the North Kitsap School District's Spectrum School. The Army structures at the gate and the assembly building are intact, in good shape and in use, although there have been some new construction and other modifications. The two magazines, however, are buried underneath a huge glass and steel schoolbus maintenance facility (03 Jan 98).

T-10 Elmira - This one took some looking to find; fortunately, Mike Binder expressed the local topos before i left. Launch is 2S of Elmira, at the intersection of Hay and Lewis Road, is intact and privately owned. Control is 1E on Hay Road and mostly intact, though decrepit. Current use is low income housing (22 Dec 88).

T-33 Lambie - Control site is on Lambie Road, approx 4 ESE Travis AFB. Pretty much intact with the exception o of the radar plats. Current owner is State of California Department of Health Services; a youth correctional facility is adjacent. Launch area is approx 1 NNW, off Bithell Lane; no sign of the launcher area, no buildings, only some old embankments. Multiple owners, primarily farm and construction equipment (22 Dec 88).

T-53 Potrero Hills - Got the complete tour here, courtesy of the president of Explosives Technology, the current owner. ET manufactures explosive devices for use as canopy separation equipment, stores separation,etc. The site is 2.5 S of Travis and is near completely intact. Two oft admin area buildings are part of the main complex. The control area has its buildings and the launch area is clean and features oeprating elevators (22 Dec 88).

T-86 Fairfield - N Fairfield; launcher/admin area is on Lcay Bank Road and intact. Admin is now the Solano County Detention Center and Animal Shelter, launcher area is adjacent and owned by the Suisun Unified School District as a school bus manta yard. Control is on Cement Hill on a private road (22 Dec 88).

Vandenberg AFB/BOMARC - Further up the road from the (Atlas D) coffins (north-central base) are two BOMARC shelters; early BOMARC deployment plans included a complete squadron at Vandenberg. The shelters arils used for storage (15 Apr 89).

From Mark Morgan March 22 2001
responding to
"I have recently purchased nike missiel site DY-10 located in Jones County Texas do you have any information on this site ?
Cliff Hallford
Cliff: Congrats on your purchase! Wish I had the wherewithal to buy one (then again, if I had the money I'd probably go after an old Atlas silo, and there are several of those around Abilene too).
The original flurry of Nike construction occured between 1955-1957 and concentrated on the defense of the major cities and industrial areas. In 1959 Army Air Defense Command started a second round of construction with the emphasis on Strategic Air Command Bases; the installation of the two sites near Dyess was one result, in this case to protect the B-47s and KC-97s of the 96th and 341st Bomb Wings.
The Dyess Defense Area operated with two Nike Hercules sites from 1960 through 1966. The assigned battalion was the 5/517th Artillery; the Army Air Defense Command Post was 37 miles west at Sweetwater AFS (Avenger Field). Each of the battery sites had three above-ground launch areas enclosed in berms with 12 Nike Hercules missiles; DY-10C, the control site, had five radars: a HIPAR or High-Power Acquisition Radar, LOPAR (low-power acquisition), Target Tracking Radar (TTR), Missile Tracking Radar (MTR) and Target Ranging Radar (TRR).
I managed to visit the two components of DY-10 back in 1990 when I was living in Fort Worth; at the time the launch fac was under private ownership and the control site was owned by the Abilene Independent School District.

If you have comments or suggestions, Send e-mail to Ed Thelen

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Last updated Sept 5, 1999