River Bend Park in Utica sits along the Clinton River. It has baseball fields, soccer fields and a shooting range. Near the middle of the park is a historical marker that stands as a reminder of what the park used to be. The property was originally developed in 1955 by the military as a Nike missile base. Fifteen such bases were placed around Detroit to defend the city in an attack. Ajax missiles were used to shoot down any enemy aircraft that could drop a nuclear bomb on the city.
By the 1970s the Soviets had intercontinental ballistic missiles and the Nike bases were not capable of shooting them down. In 1974 the bases were deactivated. The missile silos were filled in and the buildings were demolished. The property was given to the Michigan DNR. All that remains of the old base are a few foundations from the buildings and one small building that is being used as a storage shed.
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