Explosive Discovery

A Cold War missile silo, in a sleepy suburb

nikePhoto: Christopher A. Richards

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here’s a little-known vestige of the Cold War deep inside a public forest in Needham called Ridge Hill: the ruins of Nike antiaircraft missile battery B-63. (The “B” was for “Boston.”) Here, on 18 acres, were hidden three of the nation’s 1,000 Nike Ajax missiles, deployed beginning in 1953 as a last line of defense against enemy aircraft, presumably carrying nuclear weapons. The Nike sites were decommissioned after the SALT I treaty with the former Soviet Union. Today the site is owned by the School Department, another “Nike” has conquered the world, and the only battle going on today at Ridge Hill is between gardeners and dog-walkers. It’s a nice place to hike.

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Needham’s Nike missile silo wasn’t exactly a secret when it was in operation. It was an odd local point of pride, and the reason high school teams are called the Rockets.

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