Embracing a Healthy Family: Historical Indiana Nike Missile Site C-47

Historical Indiana Nike Missile Site C-47

Employee at Gate in Munster, Indiana Site

I was rather surprised to find out upon driving home a few weeks ago to learn about how the cold war impacted northwest Indiana many years ago. I grew up in this area and spent 18 years never knowing anything that lurked so close as to all the memories I made before moving away.  There isn't just one Nike Missile Site within the vicinity of where I live rather there are three.  The closes one is the Nike Missile Site C-47 was a former missile site near Portage, Indiana. The Nike defense system was a Cold War-era missile system in the United States. The Nike missiles were radar guided, supersonic anti-aircraft missiles. 

Nike missile sites were constructed in defensive rings around major urban and industrial areas. Chicago was likely selected because of its population, the presence of several military bases, and the Gary, Indiana, steel industry. Nike C-47 near Portage designed with two units nearly a mile apart. The first section was the Launcher Area and is located on the south side of County Road 700 North, approximately 1/4 west of County Road 500 West, in Porter County, Indiana. The second area was the Control Area, located on the north side of County Road 600 North, near Wheeler. Sometimes called Administration Area. The base was operational by 1956, construction begun in 1954. The  pictures below depict the remains of the area in Portage.

Part of the site (in Hobart) has been converted to a paintball park.

More information from NikeMissile.org:

The "Hercules" were nuclear capable and could destroy fleets of Soviet bombers over a wide area. These were deployed at a few selected sites. The Hercules could reach Soviet airspace to intercept aircraft. Hercules missiles had the potential to be used against ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles). C-47 was one of the first Nike sites to receive the Hercules missiles.
The Nike system protected the United States until 1972. The bases were closed in accord with the SALT treaty limits, and the onset of "d├ętente".


To be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, Nike sites should be exceptional historically and retain a high degree of integrity, including all three major components: (1) administration, (2) radar, and (3) launch functions. There are fifteen Nike sites in Illinois that are part of the Chicago-Gary Defense Area. Several have some buildings and launch areas. C-84 Palatine, Illinois was the last substantial site to be redeveloped.
Five of the bases in the Chicago ring were in Indiana. C-47 is the only site to retain all three functions. A few buildings remain at several of the bases in Indiana. The National Park Service uses several buildings from a base near the Chellberg Farm for offices and service buildings at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. As elsewhere, they are remnants of bases, not complete units. The early use of nuclear missiles on the site furthermore makes C-47 rare and exceptional site.
A Nike Ajax and Hercules are on display in front of the VFW post in Cedar Lake, Indiana
A Nike Ajax is on display near the Toledo Rockets Glass Bowl Stadium on the campus of the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio.

The other sites:
C-44 Nike 2B, 4C/60A/24L-AA - Hegewisch /Wolf Lake, Illinois (dual site) - Abandoned and overgrown at the south end of recreation area. The access road entrance is at Ave J & 133 Street largely obliterated. The launch site is also abandoned. It is on the north shore of the lake, where S. Wolf Lake Blvd. becomes S. State Line Rd. The buildings are gone but foundations remain.
C-45 Nike 2B/20A/8L-A - Gary Municipal Airport, Indiana - Redeveloped area at the north tip of the airport. A general aviation hangar, parking lot and ramp area for aircraft parking were created. The former launch site is across Industrial Highway. The launch site was razed but remnants are still visible.
C-46 Nike 1B, 1C/12H, 20A/12L-U, (8L-H)
Munster, Indiana - Redeveloped into an industrial park. It is on the west side of Calumet Ave. N of 45th St. The launch site is on west side of Columbia Ave. It was razed in 2008, now in private ownership.
C-48 Nike 2B/20A/8L-A - Gary, Indiana - Redeveloped and abandoned from as an automobile dealership on Grant Street. The launch site was redeveloped into commercial/industrial site near NW corner of 35th Avenue and Grant Street.

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