About This Lesson
This lesson is based primarily on the National Register of Historic Places registration file “Site Summit” (with photos) and primary sources detailing the Cold War in Alaska. This lesson plan was a collaborative effort of archeologist Phyllys Callina, the Friends of Nike Site Summit, the Alaska Historical Society, and the U.S. Air Force. It was edited by the Teaching with Historic Places staff. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into the classrooms across the country.
Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: The lesson could be used in U.S. history, social studies, and geography courses in units related to the Cold War.
Time period: Late 1950s to early 1990s
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find Your State's History Standards for Grades Pre-K-12
Objectives for students
1) To explain Alaska’s role in the Cold War and how the military used its geographically-strategic position;
2) To identify the challenges and the strategic advantages of Site Summit to the U.S. military;
3) To describe the Nike-Hercules missile system and its purpose during the Cold War;
4) To explain the effects of the Cold War on Alaska’s economy and demographics;
5) To evaluate how the Cold War affected the lives of Americans in their own communities.
Materials for students
The materials listed below can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a smaller, low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger version.
1) Two maps including one of Nike sites in Alaska during the Cold War and one of Site Summit;
2) Three readings about the Cold War, Alaska during the Cold War, Nike program in Alaska and Site Summit;
3) Six Photos of life, landscape, and military operations at Site Summit.
Visiting the site
Site Summit is located in a regulated area of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska. Military clearance is required to visit the site. The only way to visit Site Summit is with a guided tour. Tours are conducted from June through September by the volunteer group Friends of Nike Site Summit. Visit their website for contact and scheduling information.
Site Point is more easily accessible. It is now Kincaid Park in Anchorage, Alaska: a public recreation area operated by the Municipality of Anchorage. One of the Nike Hercules missile silos and a bunker were used in the construction of the Kincaid Outdoor Center. This park is open to the public year-round.