A Barn For All Seasons (Almost)

Three out of four isn’t bad, right?

We all have our favorite places and this is one of mine. I pass this old barn almost every day and its elegant, simple utilitarian architecture calls to me. Recently, I photographed the barn in the early Spring and realized that I now have images of it in three of the four seasons. Summer is absent because the barn is almost totally obscured by the trees, vegetation and crops growing around it.

All of these photographs were made from the roadside because I have not been able to get permission to approach the barn. It is an active farm and the very nice family that owns it has graciously denied my requests to walk across their field get closer.

Old New Jersey Barn in Fall by Richard Lewis

Old Barn In Fall by Richard Lewis 2013

Blue Hour Low Light Photography

Blue Hour by Richard Lewis 2014

Late Fall in Burlington New Jersey by Richard Lewis

Late Fall in Burlington by Richard Lewis 2015

Winter Textures in Burlington New Jersey by Richard Lewis

Winter Textures by Richard Lewis 2013

Burlington New Jersey Barn In Spring by Richard Lewis

An Old Barn In Spring by Richard Lewis 2016

In spite of only being able to photograph it from the side of the road, this old ramshackle barn offers several very nice compositions thanks to a 70-200mm telephoto lens. Even if I can’t get any closer for now, being able to show the barn in almost every season from similar vantage points creates a nice set of images. I hope you agree.

Enjoy

 

 

PH-58 Nike Missile Site in Woolwich Township

Neighborhood Nukes in South Jersey

In the rural Southern New Jersey community of Woolwich Township are the remains of another cold war relic, Nike Missile Battery PH-58. Unlike the Lumberton site, PH-23/25 from my previous post, when this site was decommissioned in 1974, it remained abandoned and was never repurposed. Now it stands as a dilapidated, overgrown memory of a time when our military needed to defend our major cities against an attack with nuclear warheads mounted on surface to air guided missiles.

I was pleasantly surprised when the Woolwich Township Committee agreed that this site needed to be preserved photographically and gave me permission to do so. My guide was one of the town’s Committeeman named Jordan Schlump. I owe him a lot of gratitude because he happily agreed to work a photographer’s schedule, starting before sunrise on several cold mornings.

Nike missile batteries were divided into two sections. One was the Integrated Fire Control (IFC) or radar section for tracking enemy aircraft and guiding the missiles. The other was the Launcher Area where the Nike missiles were stored, maintained and would have been launched if necessary. These two sections of a Nike battery were about a mile or more apart. There were technical reasons for this, but one result was that the personnel stationed at the IFC and the Launcher Area lived separately and sometimes developed a rivalry with each other. Why not? The radar guys must have been the geeks working on computers and radar scopes while the launcher crews were the mechanics who got their hands dirty keeping the Nikes in prime flying condition.

Another difference between this Nike missile site and the one in Lumberton is that the rural farm land around it is not much different than it would have been in the 1950’s and 60’s. As I walked around PH-58, I could imagine what it was like to be stationed here. These soldiers were carrying out an important, but probably monotonous duty watching the skies for Russian bombers that, thankfully, never came. Being stationed in a rural South Jersey must have also left little for these young men to do when off duty.

Integrated Fire Control (IFC) Radar Section

The layout of this section included four radar towers and control and generator buildings. Although the site was pretty well cleaned out, there were still quite a few leftover elements of its active duty days. The site is very overgrown making exterior photographs of the buildings and towers difficult, if not impossible.

Nike Battery PH-58 IFC Control Building by Richard Lewis

PH-58 IFC Control Building by Richard Lewis 2016

PH-58 Nike Missile Radar Towers by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Radar Towers by Richard Lewis 2016

PH-58 Nike Missile Radar Tower Base by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Radar Tower Base by Richard Lewis 2016

PH-58 Generator Building by Richard Lewis Nike Missile

PH-58 Generator Building by Richard Lewis 2016

PH58 Generator Building Interior by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Generator Building Interior by Richard Lewis 2016

Barracks and Administrative Buildings

Right next to the IFC is the barracks and administrative area which has three simple, one story buildings that contained the headquarters, mess hall, living quarters and other services for the soldiers stationed there. Again, overgrowth around the buildings made it impossible to photograph the exteriors.

PH-58 Nike Missile Armory by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Arms Locker by Richard Lewis 2016

PH-58 Launcher Area Administrative Building by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Administrative Building by Richard Lewis 2016

PH-58 Nike Missile Headquarters by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Headquarters Lobby by Richard Lewis 2016

Ph-58 Nike Missile Barracks by Richard Lewis

Ph-58 Barracks by Richard Lewis 2016

PH-58 Barracks Latrine by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Barracks Latrine by Richard Lewis 2016

PH-58 Nike Missile Base Mess Hall by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Mess Hall by Richard Lewis 2016

The Launcher Section – Magazines

The Nike missiles were stored underground in large missile magazines. They would have been brought up to the surface for launching on large elevators. Security around the magazines was tight. In addition to armed soldiers, guard dogs roamed the area at night.

PH58 Missile Magazine Door by Richard Lewis 2016

PH58 Missile Magazine Elevator by Richard Lewis 2016

PH58 Nike Missile Blast Plate by Richard Lewis

PH58 Nike Missile Blast Plate by Richard Lewis 2016

PH-58 Nike Missile Electrical Connections by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Nike Missile Electrical Connections by Richard Lewis 2016

PH-58 Nike Missile Magazine Guard House by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Missile Magazine Guard House by Richard Lewis 2016

PH-58 Nike Missile Guard Dog Kennel by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Guard Dog Kennel by Richard Lewis 2016

The Launcher Section – Missile Assembly Building

This building would have been where the Nikes were assembled and maintained. They would then be moved to the Warhead building to be armed.

PH58 Nike Missile Assembly Building Exterior by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Nike Missile Assembly Building Exterior by Richard Lewis 2016

Nike Missile Battery PH-58 Missile Assembly Building by Richard Lewis

Nike Missile Battery PH-58 Missile Assembly Building by Richard Lewis 2016

The Launcher Section – The Warhead Building

This simple building would be used to arm the missiles. It was surrounded by a high dirt berm in order to help contain an accidental explosion. While that berm would have worked in the early days of the Nike missile program, one wonders how much help that berm would have been once the Nikes went nuclear.

PH-58 Nike Missile Warhead Building by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Warhead Building by Richard Lewis 2016

PH-58 Nike Missile Warhead Building by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Warhead Building Interior by Richard Lewis 2016

 

PH-58 Overgrown Nike Missile Warhead Building by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Overgrown Missile Warhead Building by Richard Lewis 2016

The Launcher Section – Other Buildings

There were other buildings in the launcher section including a Ready Building with rooms for meetings, arms storage and one of the few restrooms. There was also a barracks, generator building, chemical storage building and a water filtration plant.

PH-58 Nike Missile Base Ready Room Caution Signs by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Ready Building Caution Signs by Richard Lewis 2016

Nike Missile Battery PH-58 Launcher Administration Building by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Launcher Ready Building by Richard Lewis 2016

PH-58 Nike Missile Launcher Area Ready Building Interior by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Launcher Area Ready Building Interior by Richard Lewis 2016

PH-58 Nike Missile Fuel Storage Building by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Fuel Storage Building by Richard Lewis 2016

PH-58 Nike Missile Fuel Storage Building by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Fuel Storage Building at Sunset by Richard Lewis 2016

PH-58 Nike Missle Base No Smoking by Richard Lewis

PH-58 No Smoking by Richard Lewis 2016

PH-58 Nike Missile Launcher Area Barracks by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Launcher Area Barracks by Richard Lewis 2016

PH-58 Nike Missile Generator Building by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Launcher Area Generator Building by Richard Lewis 2016

PH-58 Nike Missile Base Water Filtration Plant by Richard Lewis

PH-58 Water Filtration Plant by Richard Lewis 2016

Honoring Our Cold War Veterans

The soldiers of the cold war were tasked to defend our nation against the threat of a nuclear holocaust that was unprecedented in world history. The Nike missilemen at PH-58 and other missile batteries were the last line of defense. Using sophisticated radar and nuclear guided missiles they guarded our cities and industrial centers from Russian bombers carrying atomic bombs. The fact that our military was willing to detonate a nuclear device over US soil shows how desperate we were during the cold war to defend our country. If these soldiers were called to actually practice their craft, the world would have been in the gravest of situations.

Enjoy 

Click Here for more photographs of this and other Nike missile sites

McNeal Mansion Total Devastation in the McNeal Mansion by Richard Lewis

The McNeal Mansion Total Devastation – Part 1

A Sad History That Goes From Glory To Gory.

Andrew McNeal built his dream home in 1890 on the site of his very successful foundry that made cast iron pipes. McNeal only enjoyed his mansion for a few years because in 1899 he sold his company to the US Pipe company.

This poor mansion was never to be a mansion again. At 10,000 square feet, it was the largest home in the county. The house became the headquarters of US Pipe. Over the years as the company grew, the building was expanded and eventually became a regional office after US Pipe moved its headquarters.

In 1975 the mansion/office building was abandoned by US Pipe and it sat mostly unoccupied. Several developers had big plans for it, and one actually started renovations, but mostly the mansion has deteriorated. Fire, weather and neglect has played havoc on the poor place.

When I entered the mansion to start this photographic project I was shocked that the devastation. Although it is extremely well built, most of the important architectural features are beyond use. Even the few renovations that were done have fallen into disrepair. I have never seen a building in this bad a shape. It literally looks like it survived a war.

The Interior

McNeal Mansion 3rd Floor Interior Stairwell by Richard Lewis 2016

McNeal Mansion 3rd Floor Interior Stairwell by Richard Lewis 2016

McNeal Mansion Interior View by Richard Lewis

McNeal Mansion Interior View 3 by Richard Lewis 2016

McNeal Mansion Interior Curved Wall by Richard Lewis

McNeal Mansion Interior Curved Wall by Richard Lewis 2016

McNeal Mansion Total Devastation in the McNeal Mansion by Richard Lewis

Total Devastation in the McNeal Mansion by Richard Lewis 2016

McNeal Mansion Looking Out by Richard Lewis

Looking Out by Richard Lewis 2016

McNeal Mansion Interior by Richard Lewis

McNeal Mansion Interior by Richard Lewis 2016

The Office

At one point US Pipe added 3 wings on to the mansion and these areas look more like office space than a cozy sprawling mansion.

McNeal Mansion Office Space by Richard Lewis

McNeal Mansion Office Space by Richard Lewis 2016

Devastation up close

I tend to like wide angle photographs of abandoned interiors. However the textures and colors of this place invited me to focus a lot closer on the details.

McNeal Mansion Window View by Richard Lewis

Window View by Richard Lewis 2016

 

McNeal Mansion Doorway to Devastation by Richard Lewis

Doorway to Devastation by Richard Lewis 2016

McNeal Mansion Window View by Richard Lewis

Window View by Richard Lewis 2016

The Best Made Plans

For a period in the 1990’s it looked like the mansion was on it’s way back. The rusting signs below advertised high hopes. All that remains of these hopes are a deteriorated riverside restaurant deck.

McNeal Mansion High Hopes and Big Plans by Richard Lewis

High Hopes and Big Plans by Richard Lewis 2016

McNeal Mansion Riverside Dining by Richard Lewis

Riverside Dining by Richard Lewis 2016

After the restaurant and redevelopment plans failed, a fire and further neglect has left this property in total devastation. Still there is still talk of restoring the the McNeal mansion. Can it be done?

What do you think?

 

 

Nike Missiles… Our Neighborhood Nukes

Nike missiles go viral (sort of)

My blog post about the former Nike missile site in Lumberton New Jersey received an overwhelming response. Not only did this post receive as much traffic in a few days as my blog gets in an entire year, the people who are contacting me about it are different than my usual blog followers. In addition to the photographers and artists I usually communicate with, veterans, historical groups and even the National Park Service are offering all sorts of great information and opportunities.

An exhibition of my work during the month of April. 

Neighborhood-Nukes-Flyer

A local organization called the Burlington County Lyceum of History and Natural Sciences asked me to do an exhibition of my Lumberton Nike site photography in the month of April. We are calling it Neighborhood Nukes because many of these Nike missile batteries were armed with nuclear missiles. This was not disclosed to the surrounding community. There will be a reception on April 9th from 1 to 3pm, including a presentation by yours truly.  I’d love to see you there!

Representatives form the National Park Service invited me to photograph NY-56, a Nike missile site they are preserving in the Sandy Hook National Recreation Area in New Jersey. I also recently received permission to photograph an abandoned Nike missile site in Southern New Jersey called PH-58. I’ll be posting more of these photographs soon, but thought I would share a few here.

With the Lumberton site, only the Radar, or Integrated Fire Control (IFC) was able to be photographed. This is where enemy bombers would have been tracked and the missiles launched to blow them up would have been controlled. All Nike missile batteries had a separate launcher area with an underground magazine for missile storage, launch pads and buildings for administration and missile maintenance. Some of these photographs show the launcher section of these Nike missile sites.

Nike Battery NY-56

This site was one of many Nike missile batteries that defended New York City. It is in the Sandy Hook National Recreation Area and is being restored by an extremely dedicated group of volunteers, most of whom are veterans that served in the Nike missile program.

Nike Battery NY-56 Generator Building by Richard Lewis

Nike Battery NY-56 Generator Building by Richard Lewis 2016

Nike Battery NY-56 Barracks Area by Richard Lewis

Nike Battery NY-56 Barracks Area by Richard Lewis 2016

Nike Battery NY-56 Radar Tracking Trailer by Richard Lewis

Nike Battery NY-56 Radar Tracking Trailer by Richard Lewis 2016

Nike Ajax Missiles Awaiting Restoration by Richard Lewis

Nike Ajax Missiles Awaiting Restoration by Richard Lewis 2016

Nike Battery PH-58

PH-58 was the southern most battery in New Jersey and was part of Philadelphia’s Ring of Steel defense network. It is currently in a bad state of decay. While the Integrated Fire Control (IFC) area is slated for redevelopment, the launcher area cannot due to various environmental conditions. The town hopes to turn that part into a park.

Nike Battery PH-58 IFC Control Building by Richard Lewis

Nike Battery PH-58 IFC Control Building by Richard Lewis 2016

Nike Missile Battery PH-58 Missile Assembly Building by Richard Lewis

Nike Missile Battery PH-58 Missile Assembly Building by Richard Lewis 2016

Nike Battery PH-58 Missile Magazine by Richard Lewis

Nike Battery PH-58 Missile Magazine by Richard Lewis 2016

Nike Missile Battery PH-58 Launcher Administration Building by Richard Lewis

Nike Missile Battery PH-58 Launcher Administration Building by Richard Lewis 2016

It is a humbling experience when one’s artistic work transcends simply being a piece art and becomes meaningful to a great many people on different levels. The power of photography is limitless and when driven by a clear vision and purpose, its power can add to our collective memory. These Nike missile batteries were America’s last line of defense in the Cold War that saw two world powers develop the ability to wield unimaginable destruction.

If the work I’m doing now can honor the Nike Missilemen who diligently protected our country during the time they served then I’ve done the job I started out to do. 

Enjoy

Office View of Court Yard by Richard Lewis

An Abandoned Laboratory

Bad Business Leads To Artistic Opportunities

Finding this abandoned laboratory was an odd discovery. It is a large complex that dates to the early 1960’s when the National Lead Company built it to formulate lead compounds for use in paint and other products.

Talk about bad timing. In the 1960’s latex based paints became widely available as an easier and safer alternative to toxic lead based paints. National Lead eventually changed their name to NL Industries and started producing other products that did not include lead. The company closed this lab facility in the 1980’s.

If this was a business blog, the story of National Lead’s survival as a business dating back to the 18th century would be an interesting case study. But, this is a photography blog and my interest as a photographer was the dilapidated structures that stood before me on a cloudy winter afternoon. On that afternoon the remains of a stylish 1960’s building with a repeating arched roof line peeked through a very overgrown landscape.

It’s a bit strange to see a relatively new building in such terrible shape. Since the company’s closure in the 1980’s, vandalism along with neglect and the weather have taken its toll on the place. Large plate glass windows have been smashed and most of the roof looks like it just dissolved, in turn exposing the interior to the elements.

The Exterior of National Lead

NationalLeadOldPhoto

National Lead Lab just after opening (uncredited photograph)

This building was a nice example of mid-century modern concrete and glass architecture. One has to wonder what it was like to work here, particularly in the beginning when this building was brand new and its facilities were state of the art. The large glass windows must have provided a nice view and let in plenty of light. Now that the windows are gone, there is nothing stopping the weather, or intruders, from wreaking havoc on the building’s interior.

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National Lead Facade by Richard Lewis 2016 (iPhone)

National Lead Main Entrance by Richard Lewis

National Lead Main Entrance by Richard Lewis 2016

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National Lead Laboratory Hallway by Richard Lewis 2016

Office View of Court Yard by Richard Lewis

Office View of Courtyard by Richard Lewis 2016

The National Lead Office Area

Walking through the interior spaces I wondered about the people who worked here. Were confidences high when the products of this lab were in vogue? How did that confidence erode when the company’s fortunes started to change?

National Lead Reception Area by Richard Lewis

National Lead Reception Area by Richard Lewis 2016

Office Hallway by Richard Lewis

Office Hallway by Richard Lewis 2016

National Lead Lab Office by Richard Lewis

National Lead Lab Office by Richard Lewis 2016

Hallway With Desk, National Lead by Richard Lewis

Hallway With Desk, National Lead by Richard Lewis 2016

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National Lead Office Area by Richard Lewis 2016

Cafeteria by Richard Lewis

Cafeteria by Richard Lewis 2016

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No Heat by Richard Lewis 2016

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Modern Building At National Lead Site by Richard Lewis 2016

The Labs at National Lead

The laboratories were in two wings off the front of the building. The roof over them was made with a material that has deteriorated to a point where there are large holes exposing the labs to the environment. What was once expensive lab equipment is now a bunch of rusted hulks.

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National Lead Laboratory #2 by Richard Lewis 2016

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National Lead Laboratory #3 by Richard Lewis 2016

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National Lead Ruined Lab by Richard Lewis 2016

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National Lead Overgrown Laboratory by Richard Lewis 2016

National Lead Laboratory Hallway by Richard Lewis

National Lead Laboratory Hallway by Richard Lewis 2016

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National Lead Lab Office by Richard Lewis 2016

My trip through the the old National Lead laboratory was an unfortunate example of how a business that has been successful can fall apart when it doesn’t keep up with the changing world. This is a story that has repeated itself time and time again. This abandoned multi-million dollar lab facility is a fine physical remnant of bad business planning.

Enjoy

POSTSCRIPT 3/12/16: Recently my friend and fellow photographer, Mike Pillows posted his take on this place. Mike saw this place solely as art and has created a unique set of photographs that are very different than these. Click here to see his work at National Lead.

 

Nike Missile Battery PH23/25 Radar Section by Richard Lewis

Lumberton New Jersey’s Nike Missile Battery PH23/25

Honoring and Preserving a Cold War Legacy

When passing through the idyllic and peaceful countryside around Lumberton, New Jersey, one would never expect to come across a fearsome relic of the Cold War. Yet, until recently, just outside of town, were the remains of a Nike missile battery built in 1956 and designated with the catchy name name PH-23/25.

In the 1950’s and 60’s the army built these batteries around major major cities armed with Nike surface-to-air missiles to defend them against Soviet bombers. The name PH23/25 meant that it intended to defend Philadelphia (PH). The numbers indicated that it was a double battery which functioned as two separate missile bases in one place.*

As military technology advanced, these Nike missile batteries became obsolete and most were torn down. This one survived after it was decommissioned in 1974 because it was adapted for other uses.

I’ve lived near this battery for over 30 years and always meant to photograph it one day. That day came recently when I heard that the site was slated for demolition to make way for a new local government building and a housing development.

By the time I found out about the demolition, only one of the three sections was somewhat untouched. Fortunately, it was the most interesting section, the command and control center with the remains of radar towers that many have mistakenly thought were missile silos.

This old and deteriorating base might have been a local eyesore, but it was also an important physical remnant of our nation’s history. It reminded us that, not long ago, we faced what could have been a devastating nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Growing up during the Cold War, I remember that underlying fear of a nuclear conflict.

These missile defenses, while formidable looking, probably would have done little to stop squadrons of enemy bombers or rockets with atomic warheads. When these batteries were active, it was a time when our nation, and our world, was vulnerable to unimaginable destruction.

Nike missile batteries have a place in 20th century history as some of the last defensive fortifications in the United States against an invading enemy. Just like the costal canon batteries that were built in the 18th and 19th centuries to defend against an attack from the sea, these missile batteries were built to counter an attack from the sky.

Nike Missile Battery Radar Towers

The radar towers were often mistaken for old missile silos. They are not only the most military and unusual looking structures on the site, they are also artistic and iconic shapes.

Nike Missile Battery PH23/25 Radar Section by Richard Lewis

Nike Missile Battery Radar Section by Richard Lewis 2015

Nike Missile Base Radar Towers by Richard Lewis

Nike Missile Base Radar Towers by Richard Lewis 2015

Nike Missile Base 18 by Richard Lewis

Nike Missile Battery by Richard Lewis 2015

Radar Towers and Control Building by Richard Lewis

Radar Towers and Control Building by Richard Lewis 2015

Nike Missile Base PH23/25 by Richard Lewis

Nike Missile Base Radar Towers and Old Control Building by Richard Lewis 2015

Nike Missile Battery Aerial View by Richard Lewis

Nike Missile Battery Aerial View from a drone by Richard Lewis 2015

Nike Missile Battery Radar Towers by Richard Lewis

Nike Missile Battery Radar Towers by Richard Lewis 2015

The following three photographs were made just after the final demolition started. In the background the trees have been removed and the barracks and administrative areas is visible from the radar section and visa versa.

Nike Battery PH23/25 Main Radar Tower by Richard Lewis

Nike Battery PH23/25 HIPAR Radar Tower by Richard Lewis 2015

Nike Battery PH23/25 Radar Towers by Richard Lewis

Nike Battery PH23/25 Radar Towers by Richard Lewis 2015

Nike Missile Battery PH23/25 by Richard Lewis

View of Radar Command and Control from Administrative Area by Richard Lewis 2015

Nike Missile Battery Grounds and Buildings

The overgrown landscape and dilapidated buildings help date this site and illustrate what happens to places that are abandoned. Most of the community may have looked at this as an eyesore, but I can’t help seeing a place to merge history and art.

Nike Missile Base PHL23/25 by Richard Lewis

Overgrown Building with HIPAR Radar Structure by Richard Lewis 2015

Nike Missile Base by Richard Lewis

Nike Missile Battery Control Buildings and Moon by Richard Lewis 2015

Nike Missile Battery PH23/25 by Richard Lewis

PH23/25 Old Control Building and Radar Tower by Richard Lewis 2015

Nike Missile Battery PHL23/25 by Richard Lewis

Nike Missile Battery Buildings by Richard Lewis 2015

Nike Missile Battery PH23/25 Radar Control Area by Richard Lewis

Nike Missile Battery Radar Control Area by Richard Lewis 2015

Nike Missile Battery PH23/25 Barracks Area by Richard Lewis

PH23/25 Barracks and Administrative Area by Richard Lewis 2015

 

Nike Missile Battery Interior Spaces

Many of the building interiors had undergone some restoration over the years. The property was used for various purposes from a school to storage space. The only room I found that looked unchanged from its original military use is the last image in this group.

Nike Missile Battery PHL23/25 by Richard Lewis

Nike Missile Battery Interior Space by Richard Lewis 2015

Nike Missile Base PHL23/25 by Richard Lewis

Nike Missile Base Old Workshop by Richard Lewis 2015

Nike Missile Battery Barracks Interior by Richard Lewis

Nike Missile Battery Administrative or Barracks Interior by Richard Lewis 2015

The Office Nike Battery PH23/25 by Richard Lewis 2015

The Office Nike Battery PH23/25 by Richard Lewis

Nike Missile Battery Barracks Turned Into A School by Richard Lewis

Nike Missile Battery Became A School by Richard Lewis 2015

School Library by Richard Lewis Nike Missile Battery PH23/25

School Library by Richard Lewis 2015

Nike Missile Battery Administration/Barracks Interior by Richard Lewis 2015

Nike Missile Battery Administration/Barracks Interior by Richard Lewis 2015

Nike Missile Base PHL23/25 by Richard Lewis

Nike Missile Base Interior Room by Richard Lewis 2015

Demolition of Nike Missile Battery PH23/25

On one of my last trips to the base I got to see the demolition in progress. Now all that is left of PH23/25 are some military records and these and maybe a few other photographs. I feel a huge sense of responsibility knowing that my photographs are probably the only extensive visual record of an important place that no longer exists.

Demolition of Nike Missile Battery PH23/25 by Richard Lewis

Demolition of Nike Missile Battery PH23/25 by Richard Lewis

Nike Battery PH23/25 Administration Building by Richard Lewis

Nike Battery PH23/25 Administration Building by Richard Lewis 2015

Honoring Our Original High Technology Warriors

What do I hope to accomplish with these images? My goal is to preserve the memory of the Cold War relic artistically. This particular missile battery is important because it has a place in my history as well as local and even national history. The missile men of the 1950’s and 60’s may not have been front line soldiers racking up medals and war stories, but they did earn an honored place in history. They were some of the original high-tech soldiers defending our nation with new and unproven technology at a time when military destructive capabilities rose to a global level.

US Army photographs from the 1950’s: (left) Nike missile battery crew from Sandy Hook, NJ, (center) Nike Ajax missiles, (right) Army Air Defense Command shoulder patch.

Missile Crew in Sandy Hook NJ   Nike Ajax Missiles    Nike Missile Battery Unit Patch

See more images of Nike Missile Battery PHL23/25in the Abandonment Gallery on my website

Enjoy

*Reference: Lumberton’s Cold War Legacy by Donald E. Bender

Joshua Tree National Park

Strange Trees, Stranger Rock Formations and That Beautiful Desert Moon

A few years ago a visit to Joshua Tree National Park was a photographic bust for me. Part of it was timing. We were only there for 2 days, the weather was really hot, blah blah blah. In retrospect, mediocre vision on my part was the real reason my work wasn’t what it should be. As a result I avoided Joshua Tree in favor of the sexier Death Valley landscape for my desert travels and photography.

While Death Valley National Park is a tough desert to beat with its diverse scenery, Joshua Tree National Park has a charm all of its own. The name makes you think that those strange little Joshua Trees, which look like a cactus but act like a tree, are the main feature of the park. The name comes for the early Mormon settlers who thought that the tree looked like Joshua raising his arms to the heavens. Those Mormons may have been a bit dehydrated by the desert environment when they came up with that one. This park has a lot more than Joshua Trees. There are even stranger rock formations that look like they were made by a bizarre abstract sculptor.

Joshua Tree National Park contains two deserts, the Sonoran and Mojave which are very different from each other. We only spent our time in the Mojave which arguably is the more scenic. The Sonoran is quite severe by comparison and we will probably spend time in that part on our next trip out there.

Oh that Light!

Some well-placed clouds made for beautiful mornings and evenings. Add to that the thrill of being out in the desert at these peaceful times of day and the experience becomes much more than an opportunity to make photographs.

Dawn on the Boy Scout Trail by Richard Lewis

Dawn on the Boy Scout Trail by Richard Lewis 2015

Wonderland of Rocks at Dawn by Richard Lewis

Wonderland of Rocks at Dawn by Richard Lewis 2015

Sunset in the Wonderland of Rocks by Richard Lewis

Sunset in the Wonderland of Rocks by Richard Lewis 2015

Arch Rock by Richard Lewis

Arch Rock by Richard Lewis 2015

Mountain Light by Richard LewisMountain Light by Richard Lewis 2015

Oh those Rocks!

Sometimes the strange rock formations in Joshua Tree National Park look like abstract clay sculptures. Sometimes they look like some giant dumped  a rock collection randomly on the landscape.  Either way, hiking through them is like being on another planet. You expect to see aliens or even Luke Skywalker around every bend.

Wonderland of Rocks by Richard Lewis

Wonderland of Rocks 1 by Richard Lewis 2015

Joshua Tree Rock Formation 2 by Richard Lewis

Joshua Tree Rock Formation 2 by Richard Lewis 2015

Joshua Tree Rock Formation 1 by Richard Lewis

Joshua Tree Rock Formation 1 by Richard Lewis 2015

Early Light on a Rocky Land by Richard Lewis

Early Light on a Rocky Land by Richard Lewis 2015

Oh That Moon!

We were in Joshua Tree National Park when the full moon was illuminating the sky. What a way to make a great place even greater! The first photograph in this group was a real treat. Being able to watch a moon rise or set is really magical. We see many beautiful sunrises and sunsets in our lives, but the moon rising and setting is much more elusive.

Moonset in Joshua Tree by Richard Lewis

Moonset in Joshua Tree by Richard Lewis 2015

Moonset at Dawn by Richard Lewis

Moonset at Dawn by Richard Lewis 2015

Full Moon at Dawn by Richard Lewis

Full Moon at Dawn by Richard Lewis 2015

On this trip, my eyes finally opened to the magic of Joshua Tree National Park. The great morning and evening light really helped, along with a full moon hanging around. Also contributing was an open mind and a desire to embrace this unusual little piece of the world.

Enjoy