Coraopolis Nike Site
Coraopolis/Beacon Nike Missile Site - PI-71
Where: Coraopolis/Beacon, PA
Status: Launch Destroyed, IFC reused.
So once I got a taste of the whole Nike site thing by visiting Wilmington, I couldn't get enough. I go in phases like this. I get something in my head, then I focus on it until I've completely run it in to the ground. Anyway, I decided to check out a few more of the former Nike sites, and I was pleased with what I found. I spent a chilly October day driving around the Pittsburgh area and it ended up paying off. I visited four former sites that day. This was the first. Elrama was the second. Herminie was the thrid, and Irwin was the final.
My expectations were somewhat low for the first site, but it was the closest. My concerns proved true for the former launch site, but there were some cool remains at the former IFC. To bring you up to speed if you nothing about the Nike program, basically Nike bases consisted of two separate locations. The Launch Site which has the missile storage, launch area, etc, and the IFC, which is the control, radar, etc. They were sometimes a mile or so apart, and sometimes a little closer. In this case, they were now very far apart in terms of driving, thanks to a highway that had been since built between them.
The base of a former radome with nike era building next to it.
The Launch site had been bulldozed. All that remained was a large cement pad, some foundations, and some grates in the ground that likely went to the drainage system and nothing more. Some of the housing outside the base appeared to possibly have been military housing originally. Other than that, no much remained. The site was 100% unused and now serves as a nature preserve.
Nike Era building at the IFC site.
As for the IFC, the site is now being used by the City crew or state road crew or something of that nature. I was supprised to see the radar foundations still standing. They must have been relatively well built because no one has bothered to tear them down. They appear to be using one of them as a storage shed. The buildings are all correct for an IFC as well with the communications building apparently being used for storage. Surprisingly no one seemed to question why I was here taking picutres of their buildings. I assume they know what the buildings were once used for and don't mind people coming by to appreciate some local history.
Speaking of history, back to that. The Nike program was a missile defense program from the 1950ish time frame. Basically it was air defense. If those dirty commies decided to send planes to attack the US, the Nike Missles served the purpose of taking them out. The idea was to fire the missile in to the center of an airplane formation, and the blast would take the planes out. There were a few different types of missile over the years... more on that later. The batteries were at the launch site, and were basically underground bunker type buildings that held six missiles. They had an elevator that took the missiles to the surface where they were then able to be launched. There was a system of tracks that the missiles were moved on and launched from. Here are two examples that I found on the web...
If you look toward the rear of the above photo, you can see the elevator in the center, then the track that the missiles could then be pushed to. In the front of the photo closest to you milliles on a track already. Most launch sites had several batteries, which means several tracks, elevators, etc. Notice the doors to the undergroun open in the picture. They are on the hump in the cement toward the right/middle of the picture facing away.
In the above photo, the missile on the left is on top of an elevator, which also could be used for launch. The missile on the right is at the end of the track on a launch. Notice the yellow metal brace that sits behind the missile. You'll see that in many of the photos of the various sites (although not this site). The tracks are gone from all of the sites. Other things that yuo will see are the vents and hatch doors.
Radome platform Nike Era building. Similar to the communications building at the Brookfield Radar site I went to.
The launch site. The launch site.
Former controls cut off at the ground. I think this may have been to catch fuel. Drainage on the launch site. The path leading back to the launch site. I did not stop. I went.
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