Nike Missiles… Our Neighborhood Nukes

Nike Missiles… Our Neighborhood Nukes

Nike missiles go viral (sort of)

My blog post about the former Nike missile site in Lumberton New Jersey received an overwhelming response. Not only did this post receive as much traffic in a few days as my blog gets in an entire year, the people who are contacting me about it are different than my usual blog followers. In addition to the photographers and artists I usually communicate with, veterans, historical groups and even the National Park Service are offering all sorts of great information and opportunities.

An exhibition of my work during the month of April. 

Neighborhood-Nukes-Flyer

A local organization called the Burlington County Lyceum of History and Natural Sciences asked me to do an exhibition of my Lumberton Nike site photography in the month of April. We are calling it Neighborhood Nukes because many of these Nike missile batteries were armed with nuclear missiles. This was not disclosed to the surrounding community. There will be a reception on April 9th from 1 to 3pm, including a presentation by yours truly.  I’d love to see you there!

Representatives form the National Park Service invited me to photograph NY-56, a Nike missile site they are preserving in the Sandy Hook National Recreation Area in New Jersey. I also recently received permission to photograph an abandoned Nike missile site in Southern New Jersey called PH-58. I’ll be posting more of these photographs soon, but thought I would share a few here.

With the Lumberton site, only the Radar, or Integrated Fire Control (IFC) was able to be photographed. This is where enemy bombers would have been tracked and the missiles launched to blow them up would have been controlled. All Nike missile batteries had a separate launcher area with an underground magazine for missile storage, launch pads and buildings for administration and missile maintenance. Some of these photographs show the launcher section of these Nike missile sites.

Nike Battery NY-56

This site was one of many Nike missile batteries that defended New York City. It is in the Sandy Hook National Recreation Area and is being restored by an extremely dedicated group of volunteers, most of whom are veterans that served in the Nike missile program.

Nike Battery NY-56 Generator Building by Richard Lewis

Nike Battery NY-56 Generator Building by Richard Lewis 2016

Nike Battery NY-56 Barracks Area by Richard Lewis

Nike Battery NY-56 Barracks Area by Richard Lewis 2016

Nike Battery NY-56 Radar Tracking Trailer by Richard Lewis

Nike Battery NY-56 Radar Tracking Trailer by Richard Lewis 2016

Nike Ajax Missiles Awaiting Restoration by Richard Lewis

Nike Ajax Missiles Awaiting Restoration by Richard Lewis 2016

Nike Battery PH-58

PH-58 was the southern most battery in New Jersey and was part of Philadelphia’s Ring of Steel defense network. It is currently in a bad state of decay. While the Integrated Fire Control (IFC) area is slated for redevelopment, the launcher area cannot due to various environmental conditions. The town hopes to turn that part into a park.

Nike Battery PH-58 IFC Control Building by Richard Lewis

Nike Battery PH-58 IFC Control Building by Richard Lewis 2016

Nike Missile Battery PH-58 Missile Assembly Building by Richard Lewis

Nike Missile Battery PH-58 Missile Assembly Building by Richard Lewis 2016

Nike Battery PH-58 Missile Magazine by Richard Lewis

Nike Battery PH-58 Missile Magazine by Richard Lewis 2016

Nike Missile Battery PH-58 Launcher Administration Building by Richard Lewis

Nike Missile Battery PH-58 Launcher Administration Building by Richard Lewis 2016

It is a humbling experience when one’s artistic work transcends simply being a piece art and becomes meaningful to a great many people on different levels. The power of photography is limitless and when driven by a clear vision and purpose, its power can add to our collective memory. These Nike missile batteries were America’s last line of defense in the Cold War that saw two world powers develop the ability to wield unimaginable destruction.

If the work I’m doing now can honor the Nike Missilemen who diligently protected our country during the time they served then I’ve done the job I started out to do. 

Enjoy

2017-05-19T10:35:50+00:00 March 10th, 2016|15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Travels with Hollie White March 10, 2016 at 4:59 am - Reply

    Good read! There’s a Nike missile site near me I’ve been wanting to explore.

    • Rich Lewis March 10, 2016 at 11:26 am - Reply

      Thanks Holly. If you ever get to that site. post some photographs.

  2. Ralph Berglund March 10, 2016 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    Great work, Rich! A new career.

    • Rich Lewis March 11, 2016 at 12:57 am - Reply

      Thanks Ralph. Who would have thought I’d be the unofficial photographer of the Cold War.

  3. denisebushphoto March 10, 2016 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    Another informative and visually interesting post! Congrats on your upcoming exhibit.

    • Rich Lewis March 11, 2016 at 12:58 am - Reply

      Thanks Denise, I’m glad you found this informative. It has been an interesting journey that is for sure.

  4. Laura (PA Pict) March 10, 2016 at 8:00 pm - Reply

    All wonderful stuff, Richard. Well done!

  5. kristiaadams March 14, 2016 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    Congratulations on your exhibit! Love the photos too. Such an interesting time in NJ history that not many people know about.

    • Rich Lewis March 15, 2016 at 11:28 am - Reply

      Thank you Kristia. I started out taking a few photographs and now am finding the history of the cold war era to be quite fascinating. You are right how few people know about what was going on in their own back yards.

  6. Anonymous July 20, 2016 at 10:23 am - Reply

    Thanks for your photos. I was stationed at a Nike Site in Pine Hill, NJ from 1971-1974 as a LCT operator. I think it is a housing development now now.

  7. Rob July 20, 2016 at 10:28 am - Reply

    Thanks for your pics. I was stationed at a Nike site in Clementon, NJ. back in the early 70’s.

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