Abandoned Mount Umunhum Cube (Defunct CA Radar Base Opens to Public)

The abandoned Mount Umunhum Cube radar tower near Los Gatos, California, is now part of a tourist attraction. (Image: Jason Hickey. The abandoned Mount Umunhum Cube near )

As we move towards the third decade of the 21st century, the West Coast of the Continental United States seems a world away from the threat of air strikes that hung like a dark cloud over Europe during the decades of the Cold War. But the long-abandoned Mount Umunhum Cube serves as a reminder of just how seriously such threats were taken.

Mount Umunhum Cube was part of a Cold War early warning station built around 1957 and abandoned in 1980. (Image: Dawn Ellner)

Dominating the summit of California’s Mount Umunhum, the fourth highest peak in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the stark concrete “Cube” is actually a disused radar tower that once formed part of Almaden Air Force Station, a Cold War early warning base that operated between 1957 and 1980.

The Mount Um Cube (or Mount Umunhum Cube Box) once supported a large radar that scanned the Bay Area skies for hostile Soviet aircraft. (Image: Rairden)

Also known as “the Box”, the five-storey Mount Umunhum Cube cuts a foreboding shadow over the mountain, and according to Atlas Obscura has become a well-known Bay Area landmark. The Cube was built in 1962 as part of the General Surveillance Radar station, six miles southeast of Los Gatos, California.

Example of a Avco AN/FPS-24 Radar. (Image: USAF. Example of an AN/FPS-24 Radar.)

Tasked with monitoring the skies for hostile Soviet aircraft during the tense days of the Cold War, the abandoned concrete structure once supported a long range AN/FPS-24 Search Radar. The early warning station was one of many built by the West in the decades after World War Two.

(Image: Derek Wolfgram)

But the Mount Umunhum Cube was left to fall into ruin when Almaden Air Force Station was eventually closed down in 1980. In the years since, this unmistakable local landmark has been boarded up, its eerie concrete form becoming increasingly neglected and off-limits to curious members of the public.

(Image: Don DeBold)

After years of decay, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted in May 2016 to add the Mount Umunhum Box to the County Heritage Resource Inventory, protecting it from demolition and ridding the area around it of hazardous materials and the crumbling vestiges of the mountain’s military past.

(Image: Thomson20192)

The summit of Mount Umunhum (Mount Um to locals) reopened to the public on September 18th for the first time in decades. As Atlas Obscura writes, visitors can now “drive to the summit and park near the Cube, as well as enjoy new trails and a ceremonial space honoring the site’s Native American history.”

(Image: rulenumberone2)

Related: Cold Warning: The Abandoned Radar Stations of the Arctic Circle

 
 


 
 
 

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