Category Archives: Cold War

Model 2302 Super Sniffer

On the corner of Ruby Hill Avenue and Monroe Street is the Eureka Sentinel Museum, housed in the old Eureka Sentinel newspaper building in Nevada.

Nuclear-Chicago’s Model 2302 Super Sniffer

An unassuming display case of artifacts from the Sentinel offices contains the 1954 Nuclear-Chicago Model 2302 Super Sniffer.

To capitalize on the uranium fever spreading across the West, Nuclear-Chicago created this low cost, general purpose instrument for the detection of x-rays, gammas, and high energy betas, specifically designed for uranium prospecting. Using standard flashlight batteries, it could be used continuously for up to 2 hours. The unit came with earphones, batteries, radioactive check source, a U.S. government prospecting book and instructions — all for $49.50.

Nuclear-Chicago was founded by Jim Schoke, and later joined by John Kuranz and Thomas Mitchell, in 1946. All three were members of the Army’s Special Engineer Detachment of the Corps of Engineers and worked on the Manhattan Project at the Metallurgical Laboratory (MetLab) at the University of Chicago working for the instrument group.

Enjoy the 1955 Warner Bros. short film, “Uranium Fever.”

Atomic Snapshots: Grandview Off Leash Dog Park

In SeaTac, Washington, you’ll find Grandview Off-Leash Dog Park with stunning views of Mount Rainier and the Kent Valley just south of Seattle. Complete with trails, an agility course, and open areas, the complex is a former Nike Missile Site.

Project Nike Missile Launch Site S-43 (Seattle Defense Area) began operation in 1956, one of 11 sites forming a ring around the Puget Sound region to protect Boeing and military installations. This site could launch 30 missiles carrying three high-yield warheads, each. The site was in service until 1963.

Nike missiles at Site S-43.

Site S-43 had Ajax conventional warhead missiles during its service, managed by both regular Army and National Guard members. Other sites in the area were converted to Hercules missiles with nuclear warheads. This was necessary to protect the Kent Valley which contained numerous Boeing facilities (one of which later developed the Lunar Roving Vehicle).

Enjoy the grand view!

Atomic Snapshots: Radar Hill

During the Cold War, three lines of defense protected North America from the “imminent” threat against Soviet long-range bombers. These consisted of radar stations along the DEW line (Distant Early Warning), the MCL (Mid-Canada Line), and the Pinetree Line. These joint ventures by Canada and the U.S. were staffed by U.S. Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force personnel from 1951 to 1991.

U.S. Navy diagram from All Hands magazine, September 1956 (Department of Defense).

With the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles by 1960, however, most of these defenses became obsolete and were gradually dismantled.

Radar Hill is part of Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The decommissioned RCAF Station Tofino provides hiking trails and scenic viewpoints. The site was operated as a Pinetree Line radar station from 1955 to 1958.

Remnants of the base are still visible, whether guy wire hooks, concrete pads, embedded radio tower piping, foundation walls, or the decking laid on top of the old building foundations.

The History Guy: The Distant Early Warning Line and Forgotten History