New Riverview resident Sean says: My wife and I just moved here from Ohio and noticed the bump in the ground where the kids play soccer between the City Hall and the Riverview Fire Station.
My neighbor told me that the area was once a NIke Missile site. He said there was a missile and a plaque located there and that you could tell me more.
Thanks for the opportunity, Sean. Your neighbor is correct, that area was a former U.S. Army Nike Missile site.
To give you a little history of the site, if you notice there is a large farm house near the site. This was once the Vreeland Farm home built in 1876. The farm consisted of many acres on both the north and south sides of Sibley Road, formerly known as Mud Street. The farm remained basically the same for many years with the exception of some of the acreage being sold off.
In the 1950s, the Soviet Union was thought to have nuclear-weapon equipped bombers and was a perceived threat to the areas around Detroit, which was known as the Arsenal of Democracy.
In response, the U.S. Department of Defense developed a surface-to-air rocket called NIKE and deployed this defensive weapon in a number of places around the United States.
Twenty-five acres of the Vreeland Farm was purchased by the U.S. government where they built a rocket-launching site called Riverview, Michigan Site 54.
The missile you see near the fire station is an unarmed nuclear training rocket called the Nike Hercules. It was never part of the stockpile of rockets located in Riverview. A smaller rocket called the Nike Ajax was deployed in the Riverview location.
The launcher part of the base is the large bump in the ground you see in the soccer field area. It consisted of six silos, each 120 feet long, 60 feet wide and 20 feet deep. Five of the six silos are still there under three feet of soil and grass. The sixth silo was demolished and buried.
There is a cinderblock building on the sire, now called the community building. During the 1950s, it was the bunkhouse for soldiers, complete with beds, a kitchen and bathroom facilities.
The Riverview base, built in 1055, was deactivated in 1962. The entire 25 acres was given to the city of Riverview with the stipulation that it always remain in use as a recreational area.
On a sad note, after the site was given to the city it became an off limits, but attractive place for kids to play. However, electrical service to the site – through to have been deactivated – was not and a young lad was electrocuted there.
The city built the fire station on the site in deference to the agreement with the U.S. Government and was forced to buy more of the Vreeland Farm land of offset the area that the fire station now occupies. The site is now home to ball fields to the west of the Vreeland Home.
An interesting side note: The area that is now occupied by Rivergate Nursing Facility on Pennsylvania Road was the headquarters and Radar site for the whole Nike complex. That was also given to the city of Riverview in 1962 and late sold to the Rivergate company.
Hope this covers in the information you were looking for.