Nike Missile Sites

Bay Area Nike Missile Sites

They’re everywhere.

I had my first contact with a Nike missile site a few years ago, riding in the Marin Headlands. Thought it was interesting and novel.

We had another contact this last weekend on Angel Island, where there’s a launch and control site pair, which got me doing research. There are five launch/control site pairs (10 sites total) within San Francisco, Angel Island, and the Marin Headlands. On my first ride up Mt Sutro a few months ago, I wandered to the top of the mountain, found an empty-ish site with fresh landscaping, later found vague text about it being a military radar site. Turns out it was SF-89C, the radar control site for launch site SF-89L in the Presidio, just a few blocks from Patricia’s place.

Another launch site is at Fort Funston, controlled from a site on San Bruno Mt, where I was riding last week. I spent time staring at the map before the ride, trying to figure out what the site was, since it seemed anomalous.

Another standard ride up to Hawk Hill crests at another control site, paired to a launch site at Fort Cronkhite. There are actually two launch sites in this Marin Headlands valley, on each side of the lagoon. I ride by the southern one.

I think I care partly because they’re way more common than I thought, partly because the original Nike Atlas missiles were later upgraded to the Nike Hercules, capable of carrying nuclear warheads. I’m startled by the realization that we potentially (probably) had nuclear warheads and short-range missiles stationed so close to major metropolitan areas.

And that I can now walk up to and stand on the launch bay doors of multiple launch sites short rides away.

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