Friday, January 2, 2009

Cleveland Area Former Nike Missile Sites

Nike Ajax, Hercules, and Zeus Missiles
Photographer and Location Unknown

Somewhat by accident I found that only a few hundred feet from a company where I used to work in Eastlake Ohio, there was a Nike Missile site. No, I’m not talking about a type of shoe, but real honest-to-god missiles that are used for war and blow things up. I became curious about the subject and with a little digging, I found that at one time, there were several Nike missile sites in the Cleveland area.
Photo from Dana Ryan and Burke Lakefront Airport staff

The Nike missile program was named after Nike, the goddess of victory from Greek mythology. The program brought Nike Ajax and/or Nike Hercules missiles to the Cleveland area and other locations across the nation during the “Cold War” era to combat a perceived Soviet threat. The missiles were part of a “line-of-sight” anti-aircraft missile system. They were put in place in the mid-1950s, and remained in place until the early 1960s when most locations in the Cleveland area became obsolete and closed, with the exception of the Parma and Warrensville locations. All bases in the Cleveland area were closed by 1971, and all locations were eventually reconfigured to serve other purposes more useful to their communities.

At Burke Lakefront Airport
Photo by Howard L. Newmarker
The missile location in the confines of the actual city of Cleveland was at Burke Lakefront Airport. All locations in the Cleveland area were as follows:
CL-02 Bratenahl
CL-11 Painesville (Lake County)
CL-13 Willowick.Eastlake (Lake County)
CL-34DC Warrensville
CL-34 Warrensville/ Highland Hills
CL-48 Garfield Heights
CL-59 Parma/ Midpark Station
CL-67 Lakefront Airport (Burke)
CL-69 Lordstown Military Res/Fairview Park

You can find more detailed information about the program, and these Cleveland locations, in the links below.

By the way, I dug deep into my “archives” and found some old aerial photographs taken of the company where I worked in Eastlake. The photos were from the early 1960s – long before I worked there – but you can spot the location of the missile site in the photos.


Mike Golch said...

great posting.I guess that is why the park one pleasent vally road near Tri-c campass is called nike park.Of course there is no trace of the missle site at all.

Anonymous said...

I like your use of the word "percieved" in regards to a precieved military strike from the Soviets. Am I left tp presume as a reader that such treats were "percieved" and not real? Maybe it means nothing to point this out but words mean things and regretfully they have a big impact on how future generations "percieve" past events in history.

Anne Hamilton said...

I was interested in your list, since the house I lived in from 1951 till 1957 was 0.4 mile from the actual launching area at the Nike site in Fairview Park. I remember that there was opposition to the site (but I was a child, and had little understanding of what the fuss was about).

To "Anonymous" above: How many times can one misspell the word "perceive" or "perceived" in one short post? Answer: 4.

Anonymous said...

I lived on Concord Drive, just north of the Warrensville Control site, from 1957 to 1966. Several of the radar platforms were easily viewed from Richmond Road. I joined the rest of the neighborhood kids and routinely snuck onto the base to visit a creek for tadpoles. The double bladed 'banana choppers' frequented the base. The flights of these helicopters were so common that we didn't bother looking up when their engines were heard. The Cuban Missile crisis prompted my family to leave the area and camp far from the city. I also recall another sign of the Cold War. We heard sonic booms from the military jets overhead.

Richard Johnson said...

I was a Company and Battalion clerk on the Bratenal site. Back in 1959,60 and 61.

iac said...

As a kid I lived on Saxon Dr, a street away from Garfield Hts Site CL-48; now the Board of Education. I still remember climbing the 2 remaining empty radar towers; now gone.

Russell Sova said...

I have the only photo of the Willowick Nike radar site that accompanied the Eastlake missle site. I took the picture out our front window on Arnold Rd. I worked at the abandoned missle site in Eastlake at the Willoughby-Eastlake bus garage. At the time, they used the old missle elevators to take busses underground to paint them. It was cool watching the busses disappear as they went down the elevators.

Tracy Cox said...

I lived in Willowick as a child from 1954 to 1968 and actually attended fourth grade at CL-13 when it was used for classrooms by the Willoughby-Eastlake School District. Ultimately it was turned into city park named after a Willowick native by the name of Bob Manry who single-handed a small sailboat called Tinkerbell across the Atlantic. I still remember passing through the gates and seeing the radar tower on the school bus. Didn't really understand what it was all about back then, but I find the history fascinating now.

Mimi Sefcik said...

My father worked there after you . During those years he was working near Pittsburgh. Were you very young then or closer to retiring?

All Things Cleveland said...

@Mimi Sefcik - where exactly did your father work and whne?

Unknown said...

My aunt and uncle live directly across from the Nike base on W. Pleasant Valley Rd. I would spend A week every summer with them every morning my aunt would take me and my brother across the street to the Bobwire fence that surrounded by missiles it was fascinating

William Blevins said...

We moved to Euclid the year the Cuyahoga river caught fire the last time. My father
worked at a couple of the Lakefront Nike Hercules sites until they were closed. People would have freaked if they'd known there were tactical nukes down there... I didn't figure it out until after my dad retired in the 80's and I asked about all of the different jobs he had done.

Some idiot decided using tactical nukes would be a good idea because they could knock down a whole group of soviet bombers at once. The trouble with the idea was that if the wind was blowing to the south when they were detonated, the fallout would have ended up in the very places they were trying to protect. A U.C. study of the Nike Hercules sites on the California coast near San Francisco (where the wind almost always blows from the ocean to the land) estimated 30% of the population would have died of radiation within a month of their use.

M Bomber said...

I was stationed at the Warrensville Repair site from Nov.1970 through June of 71 when they closed it down and I got an early out!
Easy duty for a radar repairman.
Had to live off base in Maple Heights and ride my Enduro bike to the base daily. Coldest winter I've ever experienced...and later in the spring the Cuyahoga river caught on fire!!
Fond memories however!

William Blevins said...

Yeah - those lake effect snow storms, partial thaw and re-freeze days were fun, weren't they? I was a skinny little bean pole in 7th grade then - Delivering the Cleveland Press after school was fun --- I wasn't heavy enough to break through the ice layer, so I spent most of the time on my butt and then gathering papers up again. We lived at 26922 Tungsten Rd. in Euclid when my dad was at Bratenahl. I was going to Forest Park Jr. High - the only school I went to (and there were 22 on 3 continents) that had a print shop --- setting moveable type, silk screening, ……