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

 

 

 

 

Happiest of Holidays from the New Jersey Pinelands

Winter Berries by Richard Lewis

Winter Berries by Richard Lewis 2013

Happiest of Holidays to all of you who celebrate at this time of year. Thank you so much for visiting, sharing, commenting and being a part of this blog. 

HAVE A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!

An Abandoned Bungalow

Creepiness in a Not-So-Old and Abandoned Home

Old and abandoned buildings are usually a ruin that results from age and abuse. Damage from water, mold, deterioration, and vandalism is commonplace and expected when entering one.  I recently photographed an old bungalow that was a bit different. Parts of the home were in pretty good shape. A little time with a broom and mop would make the place look like it was never abandoned.

It felt strange, creepy actually, being inside this house. Although it had been years since anyone lived there, I couldn’t help feeling like I was invading someone’s home.

The Living Room

The living room was in relatively good condition with cheery wallpaper and a need for a thorough cleaning. I was drawn to the old television set which was a throwback to another time. Even the idea of a TV as a common item in every home is diminishing as more people watch their visual entertainment on computers and mobile devices.

Bygone Entertainment by Richard Lewis

Bygone Entertainment by Richard Lewis 2015

It was interesting and a bit odd that amid the mess were decorations in good condition hanging on the walls.

Old Bungalow Hallway by Richard Lewis

Old Bungalow Hallway by Richard Lewis 2015

The Kitchen

The kitchen was deteriorating with peeling paint and disconnected plumbing. Yet the decorative objects, cleaners and dishes looking like they were recently used, gave a really creepy, lived-in, feeling. The title of this photograph, by the way, is the year on the old date book laying on top of the ironing board. I did look through it. Nothing was written inside, so it gave no insights as to when this bungalow ceased to be a home.

1976 by Richard Lewis

1976 by Richard Lewis 2015

The rest of the bungalow was more like one would expect an old and abandoned building to look like, yet the stairway to the basement still had a clean little knick-knack hanging on the wall.

Bungalow Bedroom by Richard Lewis

Bungalow Bedroom by Richard Lewis 2015

Bungalow Basement by Richard Lewis

Bungalow Basement by Richard Lewis 2015

I’m starting to feel more and more of an obligation to photograph and document some of our local old and abandoned places. As they all start to disappear, their histories and memories of them will also fade.

Enjoy

 

My Week In The New Jersey Pinelands

Shop Local is Good, But is Photograph Local Better?

Between commitments and our annual family reunion occurring during Thanksgiving, I decided to challenge myself and spend a week only creating photography in the New Jersey Pinelands. My self-imposed limits were to shoot within a 20 minute drive from my home and to hike no more than 1 mile after I got to a location.

To do this with a house full of guests required a little bit of strategy. For example, an afternoon scouting mission was disguised as a family hike. In addition, most of these photographs were made early in the morning before late rising family members even thought about getting out of bed.

I hope you enjoy the results of my little trip to the New Jersey Pinelands as much as I did.

Here are the results…

Morning Light in The Franklin Parker Preserve by Richard Lewis

Morning Light in The Franklin Parker Preserve by Richard Lewis 2015

Cedar Trees on Chatsworth Lake by Richard Lewis

Cedar Trees on Chatsworth Lake by Richard Lewis 2015

Dawn in An Old Bog by Richard Lewis

Dawn In An Old Bog by Richard Lewis 2015

Morning on Robert's Branch by Richard Lewis

Morning on Robert’s Branch by Richard Lewis 2015

Full Moon on Chatsworth Lake by Richard Lewis

Full Moon on Chatsworth Lake by Richard Lewis 2015

Morning on Chatsworth Lake by Richard Lewis

Morning on Chatsworth Lake by Richard Lewis 2015

Swampy Morning by Richard Lewis 2015

Swampy Morning by Richard Lewis 2015

The Pump House by Richard Lewis

The Pump House by Richard Lewis 2015

Full Moon Morning by Richard Lewis

Full Moon Morning by Richard Lewis 2015

Fiery Morning by Richard Lewis 2015

Fiery Morning by Richard Lewis 2015

I hope all of you who celebrate Thanksgiving had a great one.

 

Enjoy

 

Morning Magic Outside Of Phoenix, Arizona

Strange, Surreal, and Fantastic Light in the Arizona Desert

I’m going to depart from the rust, mold and decay of the abandoned places I’ve been photographing this Fall and return to our Arizona trip in October. This post reflects my first morning in the Copper State.

Every now and then a photographer is blessed with an amazing sunrise or sunset. I had an experience in Arizona that went way beyond that. While staying with some friends in Scottsdale, Arizona, I paid a visit to McDowell Mountain Regional Park to photograph the sunrise.

The forecast called for mostly cloudy skies and rain. That forecast delivered some amazing and surreal light, rain, clouds, and even a rainbow in the course of about 3 hours. I could have kept going but didn’t want to hold everyone else’s day up waiting for me. Driving back, regretfully, I kept seeing wonderful changes in the light, but consoled myself by thinking that we hadn’t seen these friends in many years. Sometimes you just have to put the camera away.

Here are the photographs from that wonderful morning.

Rainy Sunrise in Arizona by Richard Lewis McDowell Mountain Park

Rainy Sunrise in Arizona by Richard Lewis 2015

Rainy Sunrise in Arizona by Richard Lewis McDowell Mountain Park

Rainy Sunrise in Arizona 2 by Richard Lewis 2015

Desert Rainbow by Richard Lewis McDowell Mountain Park Arizona

Desert Rainbow by Richard Lewis

Fallen Cactus by Richard Lewis McDowell Mountain Park

Fallen Cactus by Richard Lewis 2015

Morning Light in the Arizona Desert by Richard Lewis McDowell Mountain Park

Morning Light in the Arizona Desert by Richard Lewis 2015

Morning Light in the Arizona Desert by Richard Lewis McDowell Mountain Park

Morning Light in the Arizona Desert 2 by Richard Lewis

Morning Cacti by Richard Lewis McDowell Mountain Park

Morning Cacti by Richard Lewis 2015

Glowing Cacti by Richard Lewis McDowell Mountain Park

Glowing Cacti by Richard Lewis 2015

I hope you enjoy this morning as much as I did.

Enjoy

Pennhurst Asylum

More photographs from Pennhurst,
the “Shame of Pennsylvania”

Pennhurst Deteriorated Exterior by Richard Lewis

Pennhurst Deteriorated Exterior by Richard Lewis 2015

Pennhurst Asylum by Richard Lewis

Pennhurst Asylum by Richard Lewis 2015

Pennhurst Wheelchair by Richard Lewis

Pennhurst Wheelchair by Richard Lewis 2015

Pennhurst Day Room by Richard Lewis

Pennhurst Day Room Couch by Richard Lewis 2015

Rags and Deterioration by Richard Lewis

Rags and Deterioration by Richard Lewis 2015

Pennhurst Medication Dispensary by Richard Lewis

Pennhurst Medication Dispensary by Richard Lewis 2015

Pennhurst Hospital Bed by Richard Lewis

Pennhurst Hospital Bed by Richard Lewis 2015

Above are some more images from my trip to Pennhurst Asylum on a Photography Workshop with Matthew Christopher. These images differ from my last post about Pennhurst because they examine the facility itself and its current condition instead of a reflection on what happened here to thousands of young patients that were housed here over the years.

Click here to see my previous post on Pennhurst

Enjoy