My friends accuse me of making some of these little facts about Northern Virginia up. Nope the stories are all real....well okay the one about the hook hanging on the car door at Lake Accotink....not so much.
However the story of the Lorton Prison being the site of the Army's premier showcase for the nationwide Nike program unveiled in 1954 is true. One of the big issues that the government faced when it was trying to build defenses against the threat of a nuclear attack was acquiring the land necessary to develop the missile defense sites. Most people think of the missiles being stored in remote destinations out west but not in Fairfax County VA.
Since the Army was tasked with finding sites that we already government owned the Lorton Prison site on 3200 acres just 25 miles south of DC was a logical choice. The Army carved out a 30 acre parcel on the prison grounds and began fortifying the site to protect it from intruders. Up until this time the Lorton Prison had been considered an "open campus" prison and the addition of Nike Missiles caused officials to move prisoners to a more secure environment.
The Army added new guard towers to the prison, began patrols of the grounds with guard dogs and added intrusion alarms to the perimeter fences. As the 1950's drew to a close and the threat of a nuclear war diminished the Army began to dismantle some of the other local sites. The National Guard took control of the missile site at Lorton and kept it as a training site until 1973 when the Secretary of the Army James Schlesinger ordered the site closed and destroyed.
Today the only way you would know that the site existed is by the one historical marker that you find on Furnace Road. As part of the master plan for the revitalization of the Lorton Prison site an area has been set aside for a National Cold War Museum. Whether the museum will actually come to fruition is unknown at this time, as it would need to be built with private not public funds..
So there you have it. Who would make this stuff up? Prisoners and Nike Missiles in Lorton VA. My how times have changed.
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Military Relocation Specialist serving military families relocating to and from the Pentagon, Fort Belvoir, Quantico MCB and all of the Military District of Washington installations.
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