Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Nike Ajax missile on the side of the road in the Sandy Hook unit of Gateway National Recreation Area.

Sandy Hook is known for its Lighthouse, the oldest operating lighthouse in the USA; for its beaches, including the largest clothing optional beach on the Atlantic coast; for the over 300 species of birds which can be found there (NJ Audubon Society has a bird observatory on the hook); and for being a military base Fort Hancock.

Today the only active military presence is the US Coast Guard, which occupies the very tip of the hook. The first fort was built during the War of 1812 and it went out of service in 1974. 

The Nike missiles are a relic of the cold war era and were operational starting in 1954 and decommissioned in 1974. The missile site is in a state of neglect and disrepair these days, but the park is planning to restore the area as a historical site.

I grew up less than five miles from here, and would occasionally ride my bike out to Sandy Hook. As I boy scout I went camping here. And a friend of mine's dad was in the military and we got to use the military beach and avoid the crowds. And all that time there were missiles poised to go off at a moments notice. (There were more next to my high school, on top of a hill overlooking the bay. That area is now a park as well, Hartshorne Woods.) 

It seems I had a very well defended childhood. And I haven't even mentioned the Earle Naval Weapons station, which was one town over in the other direction.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's really interesting, Steve. Part of the Cold War era I hadn't considered before.