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Published on Aug 4, 2008
The Nike Missile Base in the Marin Headlands of San Francisco Bay known as SF-88 is one of the few remaining missile bases built in the early 1960s as part of the NATO missile defense system during the Cold War. These bases were under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army. The base is open 12:30-3:30pm week days and open house like this is on the 1st Saturday of each month. Each base typically had 3 missile magazine bunkers eacg with a hydraulic launching platform elevator to bring the missile up to ground level and tilt it vertically for firing. Each magazine held 6 Hercules missiles, these were primarily for defense by shooting down enemy bombers and missiles except for 2 missiles per base that were reserved for nuclear purposes. Missiles were ready to fire within 2 minutes notice or less, and could fly from San Francisco to a target in Sacramento in 17 seconds. Each missile is tipped with a guidance system cone, the middle portion is the actual bomb (housed in large white containers to prevent rust when not in the magazine), and the rear of the missile is made of 4 combined rockets. Radar search and targeting equipment and thier monitoring booths can be seen just outside the perimeter fence. Hundreds of feet of cable were used to connect everything that required difficult maintenance when exposed to water along the sea coast. The sentry post was for 1 guard plus German Shepard. No Smoking was permited on base for safety reasons, long ago a guard at the time inside the fenceline was shot for failing to comply. The Assembly & Service Building maintained and assembled the missiles using large circuit boards to check all the onboard wiring. A wench hanging on the wall ran along a track in the ceiling to transport the missile from the table to the tractor trailers outside. A-Frames lifted the missile onto the rail-tracks next to the launch magazine to slide it into the hydraulic elevator to lower into the holding magazine ready for fire. To find this base...traveling south on route 101, take the last exit (Sausalito) before the Golden Gate Bridge, turn right onto Frontage Road, cut through the mountain tunnel continuing west on Bunker Road for 2.5 miles the at the fork veer left onto Field Road where you will soon see the Marin Headlands Visitor Center and 200 yards ahead is the base itself.