For nearly three decades the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District has owned the top of Mount Umunhum and its Cold War relic: the Almaden Air Force Station.
The station was in operation between 1958 and 1980 and it wasn't until the early 1970s that the Air Force started having "open house" events up there on Armed Forces Day (the last one on May 19, 1979).
Since then, the public has continued to wonder what's up there and what it's all about.
The truth is we all lived under a blanket of peace and comfort provided to us by the men and women of the US Air Force who manned these Cold War stations keeping a constant watch of the skies during what were very tense times back then.
Yet despite the iconic landmark that remains, the MROSD wants to tear it all down and leave nothing in its wake. This, for lack of better words, is a travesty.
If you visit any other prominent peak in the Bay Area (Tamalpais, Hamilton, and Diablo), they all have "something" there at the top besides just the powerful views. They have museums, visitor centers, and more. There's history there and it's preserved...and not just in the form of "interpretive display panels." There's tangible history you can touch, feel, and enjoy. Most importantly, our children can learn from them.
The MROSD wants to tear down the one main reason why people have waited patiently for nearly three decades for this site to open.
The district is already going to tear down all the other support structures that comprise the station. How many "small town America" cities do you know that have been purposely wiped off the face of the Earth without regard for the historical significance of their past being preserved in some way?
This site is about to be another one of those sites. Don't let our children go all the way up to a mountaintop to "read" about history. Let them experience it with educational programs, docent-led tours, a museum, and a visitor center.
Let's take the opportunity to do this right. The district needs to think outside its little box and really strive to make a difference with this site. Think of all the positive PR that could come from it...or the negative PR that would ensue if they tore down this site, which the landslide majority of the public wants to remain.
Please help us to save this landmark radar tower as a memorial to the Cold War and what it meant to us here in the Bay Area. Without the watchful eyes of those men and women who manned this remote outpost, we all might not be here! Sign the petition to save the Mount Umunhum Radar Tower.
Basim Jaber is a historian/archivist for the Almaden Air Force Station as well as the founder of the USAF 682nd Radar Squadron Veterans Association.