Nike Missile Site in El Monte
By Richard Cortez
If I was to tell you that El Monte was the site of Nike missile launch site you would probably tell me that I was crazy. Crazy as I might be there was a fully functioning Nike missile site located off of Potereo Road next to the tennis courts at Legg Lake.
It was 1950 and the cold war was beginning, the US Army Regulars and National Guardsman were empowered by Air Defense Brigade to protect valuable key industrial, military and US cities using Nike missiles. The first launch site was located in the mountains above Malibu in 1954. There were 16 Nike missile launch sites surrounding Los Angeles from enemy bombers. Some of the sites were, Chatsworth, Newhall, Mount Gleeson, El Monte, Brea and Long Beach.
The El Monte location had their administration building on one side of Potereo Road which is now the Army Reserves base. The actual launch site is located somewhere next to the tennis courts. The bunker is still there, but hidden from the public view. In 1954 there would have been two or three launch areas containing an underground storage magazines, an elevator and four missile erectors with underground rails that moved the missiles to an elevator to bring up the missiles to launch. The radar and targeting building was located on the hills where the Rio Hondo College Police Academy is currently located. In 1971 the US Army Air defense decided to end the Nike missile project and by 1974 most of the sites were destroyed with exception of the El Monte location. The location is still owned by the US Army and is off limits to everyone.