This park occupies seven parcels of land in Montgomery county used by the U. S. Army for the air defense of Washington D.C. from the mid-1950's to the mid-1970'sIn the early days of the Cold War, the Soviet Union produced high-speed high-altitude bombers, similar to the U.S. B-29, capable of delivering nuclear weapons on targets in the United States. These advanced planes flew too high and fast to be stopped by the Army's anti-aircraft artillery of the day.
To counter this threat, the Army developed the Nike Ajax surface-to-air missile. By the late 1950's 260 Nike missile batteries encircled Washington and other major cities. Three batteries in Montgomery County — designated W-92, W-93 and W-94 — were among the 13 that protected the nation's capital.
A typical Nike site consisted of two parcels of land, a half mile apart. (Battery W-93 near Laytonville, consisted of three parcels. ) The battery control area contained the equipment needed to track enemy aircraft, fire the missiles and guide them to the targets. It also contained headquarters, barracks and other support buildings. This park is located on the site of battery W-94. The W-94 launch area is about a mile north of Snouffer School Road behind the Army Reserve Center.
In the 1960's, the Ajax missile was replaced by Nike Hercules, Ajax batteries W-93 and W-94 were phased out. Battery W.-92 near Rockville, was equipped with the new Hercules missiles and continued in service until the Nike program was discontinue in 1974.
The land for this park was acquired under the National Park Service's Federal Lands-to-Parks program in 1997.
See map at right for the Nike battery locations in Montgomery County.
Nike Ajax missiles like these (at Lorton Virginia) were based at 13 batteries around Washington, D.C.to protect the nation's capital from attack by air. Three Nike batteries were located in Montgomery County. This park occupies the site of the battery control area for Battery W-94,
The names used in the Nike missile program come from ancient Greek mythology. The Program itself was named after Nike, the winged Greek Goddess of victory. Ajax was a Greek hero of the Trojan War. Hercules was the son of Zeus, the supreme god of the ancient Greeks ,and possessed great strength.
This marker was provided by the Northern Area Recreation Advisory Board of Montgomery County (NARAB). This project was funded by a Montgomery County Community and Neighborhood Initiatives Grant , and made possible in part by the support of the Montgomery Parks Foundation, Inc. and Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC).
Design and Text: Jim Berard, Project Manager
Military Research: Bill Evans
Additional Research: Chrissy Beane, Sandy White
NARAB Chairman: Terry Fitzsimmons
Special Thanks to the U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery Center and School, Fort Bliss, Texas.