11 October 2015

Nike Missile Site SF-93A/L/C - San Rafael, California: 11 October 2015

 I spoke with an Army veteran who described his experiences when he was stationed at Nike Missile Site SF-93L in San Rafael, California. I had little knowledge of the San Rafael Nike site, and listening to the veteran describe his time at the site convinced me that I should locate and view both the launching site and the radar site. After reviewing some maps of the area, and recording the necessary latitude and longitude coordinates on my GPS, I was ready to do some exploring!

Click on an image to view the full-size photograph.

A view of SF-93A, the Nike Missile Site Administration Area. It is now occupied by a drug and alcohol detox center. 

This photo was taken sometime between 1956 and 1971 when the missile site was active. A view of the Administration Area (SF-93A) is seen in the foreground and the Launcher Area is on the top of the hill  (SF-93L). The Launching Area is at an elevation of 97 feet, and the Administration Area is at an elevation of 10 feet. This view is looking southeast. That is San Francisco Bay at the upper left of the photo (GGNRA).

A Google Earth view of the launching site. The red line shows the route I took as I explored the area. The blue circle indicates where the missile launchers were located. US Route 101 (aka Redwood Highway) can be seen on the left. 

Here is a view of the SF-93L Launching Site. The view is looking northeast. The three launching areas and underground missile storage areas each had the ability to launch four missiles simultaneously. They have all been covered with up to seven feet of dirt. A little concrete and asphalt are the only indication of what once was here; it is not an easy place to locate. 

The launching site, looking west. Mount Tamalpais is in the distance. 

I left the SF-93L launching site and drove a few miles south to a trailhead on San Pedro Mountain. My plan was to ascend single-track hiking trails and dirt fire roads to an elevation of 984 feet, the elevation of SF-93C, the radar site. This picture was taken during my hike up Gold Hill Trail on San Pedro Mountain. Downtown San Rafael is conspicuous, with beautiful Mount Tamalpais gracefully overlooking the scene. The view is looking southwest. 

This view is looking south. San Rafael Creek is visible, as is the industrial/warehouse area of San Rafael. 

Here is a Google Earth view of the route I took to and from the radar site. The approximate distance traveled was 5.3 miles. The approximate cumulative elevation gain was 1,249 feet. The blue circle depicts the location of the radar site. 

A graph of the elevation changes encountered in the route. 

SF-93C radar site. 

I noticed this survey marker at the radar site. The marker was installed by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1975. 

SF-93C radar site. 

Hamilton Airfield was initiated in 1932 as an Army airfield. It then became an Air Force airfield and finally reverted to an Army airfield. In January 1976 it was placed in US Government caretaker status. The airfield was located just above sea level as seen in this photo. This photo was taken from the SF-93C radar site. The view is looking north. 

The Marin County Civic Center was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Construction began in 1960, and the building was completed in 1962. This view is from the Scettrini Fire Road on San Pedro Mountain. The view is looking northwest. 
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"A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.” Dorothea Lang 

"Photography has not changed since its origin except in its technical aspects, which for me are not important." Henri Carter-Bresson

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"The important thing is not the camera but the eye." Alfred Eisenstaedt

The first volume of the San Francisco Bay Area Photo Blog contains galleries of photographs that were posted on the Internet between 2002 and 2011. Click Here to view those photos.

Question or comment? I may be reached at neil@mishalov.com