Elrama Nike Site



Elrama Nike Missile Site - PI-43

Where: Elrama, PA

When: 2007

Status: Launch is used by the Hwy Dept, IFC is abandoned but locked up.


Elrama was the second site on my four site Pittsburgh area 'tour'. This one was a little better than Coraopolis... for starters, it hadn't been imploded. That was a good sign. Secondly, I was able to walk right in. There was nothing keeping me out with the exception of some barbed wire around the third battery for some reason. Going by the pavement around that battery, its possible that it was collapsing. The pavement was dipped, and even cracked near the elevator. Other than that, this place was wide open.

If you're not reading these in order, to fill you in quickly, the Nike program was a missile defense program from the 1950s. The missiles were stored underground in a battery, and then brought to the top to be fired if the Russians ever came our way. The program was never really used because the Russians wussed out... I made that up. Anyway, if you want to know a little more, go back to the first location... Coraopolis. For the most part, all you need to know is that there are two sites, a launch and a control. The launch is where the missiles were stored, assembled, etc, and the control is where the radar and control equipment was housed. They were typically about a mile or so apart from one another... give or take. Both were often in a high spot in the county. Many major Cities had a Nike Program.

Doors to the Underground battery.

So this site was apparently in use by the county or city department. I kept thinking someone would come by to yell at me, but I walked around for about 35 minutes with no questions. I didn't see another person the entire time and was even able to enter the generator building and the launch pad area.

Former Generator house.

The batteries were all locked up, so I didn't enter any of them. I assumed they'd be full of water like they typically are, but a later review of the picture I took through the space between the elevator and pavement shows that the battery is actually pretty dry. It does appear that it had some water at one point. I wish now I'd have tried all the stair ways to make sure that none were unlocked.

The generator house is the only building I actually entered. The power was rumored to be something unusual so that people couldn't us jamming deviced. I don't know if that's true, but the power on the control panels indicated 240v and 60amp (i think)?

The generators were all gone, but you can see in the above picture that they sat on cement pads and that there were wiring troughs in the floor. I believe these were just used for emergency/back up. The coolest thing about this building was that it was patched with signs regarding the dangerous rocket fuel.

I don't know exactly what it is about these Cold War relecs, but they're really neat to see in real life. I don't encourage anyone to be overly sneaky, but if you have one near you, it might be worth riding through some day. Its just amazing to me that these were essentially in people's back yards and no one really thought much of it. If I had a bunch of missiles near my house, it may concern me... actually, it might make me feel better as well. I'm rambling.

Long story short, you can imagine these places were a big deal at the time, yet no one local really seems to know much about them. I guess people just minded their own in those days and trusted the government. Today I'm sure you'd see tons of protests.

Overview of the third battery.

As I mentioned before, one of the batteries had a bunch of strands of old barbed wire around it on the ground. I don't know why, but it did appear that it was collapsing. I crossed the barbed wire, hoping it was there because the batter was unlocked, and I quickly became tangled in it. It was old razor wire. It was still sharp... like really sharp. In the future I will not cross razor wire. Lesson learned... until next time.

The control site was a bust. I arrived, and the gates were locked. I walked in to the woods a little to see if I could see anything better and I quickly realized I was in the company of bulls or cows or something big and brown and annoyed with me. I then promptly high tailed it out of there and went to the next site... Herminie.


Additional Photos

Elevtor controls. These are on the actual elvator platform.
Check the sign that was used to patch the door.
I think this was assembly or repair. The missles were fueled in the dips to the left to avoid accidents if the two fuels spilled.
Main Barraks
Elevator Doors from the middle battery.
I took this picture by holding the camera between the elevator doors and the ground. I couldn't see at the time, but now you can see that the battery is not full of water.
Guard Shack.
In the generator house.
Entrance with flagpole.
IFC site.
IFC site. You can see the radome platform to the left.


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Lots more 2007 pictures can be found in the gallery here.