Site Summit, near Anchorage, Alaska, is an exceptionally well preserved Cold war-era Nike-Hercules missile installation and an important physical representation of U.S. military strategy during the Cold War. During World War II the U.S. Army recognized that advancements in Germany's aircraft and missile technology had made America's existing conventional artillery obsolete. In response, Army ordnance studies focused on developing a surface-to-air guided missile system that could intercept and destroy attacking airplanes. The Nike and Nike-Hercules missile systems were essential components of the United States' military defense system during the Cold War period. Established in response to the increasing threat of long range Soviet bombers carrying nuclear and conventional weapons, the Nike program provided an important surface-to-air missile system capable of destroying incoming enemy aircraft. More than 250 Nike-Hercules missile batteries were built across the United States during the late 1950s and early 1960s, protecting strategic military and civilian targets.
A total of eight Nike batteries were erected in Alaska. Because of its proximity to the Soviet mainland, Alaska was considered a pivotal location in the United States' first line of defense from anticipated Soviet aggression. Alaska's eight Nike installations were critical to the overall military strategy for the air defense of the country, representing crucial components in the military network of detection, identification, interception, and destruction. Site Summit, located atop Mount Gordo Lyon just
On November 20, 1960, General J.H. "Iron Mike" Michaelis, Commander of the U.S. Army Alaska, told spectators gathered at the first live Nike missile test firing from Site Summit that "live-fire exercises were invaluable training in firing from actual combat sites and at the same time demonstrated to the citizens of Alaska and the Nation the power of this modern weapon." Annual firings from Site Summit continued during the months of November and December for four years until 1963. In July 1964, the Army canceled practice firings from Site Summit because population growth in the flight range area made the firings unsafe.
Site Summit is located atop Mount Gordo Lyon 12.5 miles east of downtown Anchorage. It is not accessible to the public.
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