For a moment, close your eyes and imagine you’ve been stationed in an area that you’ve been told is the last line of defense against your country’s enemy. Imagine the kinetic energy in a place like that, packed with people tasked with that heavy responsibility. Now imagine that same place, decades later, totally abandoned and empty. What odd ghosts might still haunt its vacant grounds? What sort of crumbling artifacts line its cracked floors?
The abandoned Nike Nuclear Missile Site S-13/14 outside of Seattle is such a place. The launch site was established in Redmond, Washington, in 1957 as the last line of defense against the Soviet threat during the Cold War. The base was decommissioned by the U.S. Army in 1974 and has been slowly decomposing ever since.
Currently, the Lake Washington School District owns the site, but it remains largely abandoned. Small areas of the site have since been converted into the “Nike Park,” though the vast majority of the large, tree-spotted site is rundown, littered with trash, and overgrown with moss and vines.
There were nearly a dozen of these missile launchers in the Seattle area during the mid-20th century, as a precautionary point of attack against Russian missiles and aircrafts. They stored nuclear-tipped missiles that stood at the ready, some even in firing position for deployment.
The Redmond site, and many others, were decommissioned in the mid-70s as the technology and tactics of war changed. Now the historic site gets only a smattering of visitors, mostly graffiti artists or curious explorers who come to witness the spray can-painted messages written on crumbling posts and obsolete circuit boards beneath miscellaneous rubble.
Update January 2019: It recently was bulldozed, so only the foundations remain.
Know Before You Go
The site is old and crumbling, so beware of falling objects or areas that may trip you up along your path. Also keep in mind that it's technically closed to the public.