Mt Umunhum (Formerly Almaden Air Force Station)
Mount Umunhum is part of the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve in Santa Clara County, which stretches 18,000 acres. It was acquired in the late 1950’s, by the government, so the military could build a radar station. This became the Almaden Air Force Station, which served as a radar warning station during the Cold War. It was in service from 1957 – 1980. .
Backstory and Context
Originally home to over 70 Native American tribes, prior to the Great Migration and gold rush.
Mount Umunhum was acquired in the late 1950’s by the government, so the military could build a radar station. This became known as the Almaden Air Force Station, which served as a radar warning station and part of a larger network of stations, used to keep a close watch over the nation's airspace, during the Cold War.
Mount Umunhum is now a national preserve, owned by Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD), which is a special non-enterprise district in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area.
In 2016, it became registered as a Historic site, and was added to the Santa Clara County Heritage Resource Inventory.
1. Mount Umunhum: Former mountain-top military base opens this week to public
For my first article for Mount Umunhum, I chose an article from a local newspaper in San Jose, called The Mercury News. The article is about Mount Umunhum opening to the public. 37 years after the air force radar station was decommissioned, the mountain is finally opened to the public. The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, which owns the property, spent 8 years and over 25 million dollars on the project. Locals can now drive up to the summit for free from Sunrise to Sunset. This article is pertinent because it discusses the news regarding Mount Umunhum finally becoming available to the public.
2. Herhold: How the Mt. Umunhum radar tower was saved
My second article also comes from the Mercury News but discusses the radar tower on top of Mount Umunhum. More specifically, it discusses the long battle of keeping the radar tower at the top of the mountain. This article is pertinent to my CLIO entry as this mountain is easily identifiable, only because of the Radar station sitting on the top of it. Politicians initially sided to raze the tower, however, due to petitions and a strong support from the people, the tower became a local landmark. After petitions gained over 2,100 signatures (From myself included), it showed the board of directors from the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District that it was a beloved landmark. After many hearings, the board agreed to give national preservationists time to raise money to save the tower. This spawned the Umunhum Conservancy. The Conservancy fought a good battle and involved the City Hall of Santa Clara County. The county in which the tower is highly visible, voted to protect it. The county planners made a very big decision by allowing a consulting firm to evaluate and conclude that the tower should be registered as a national historical landmark, due to its occupation and ties during the cold war.
- Rogers, P. (2017, September 12). Mount Umunhum: Former mountain-top military base opens this week to public. Retrieved February 28, 2020, from https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/09/11/mount-umunhum-former-mountain-top-military-base-opens-this-week-to-public/
- Herhold, S. (2016, September 22). Herhold: How the Mt. Umunhum radar tower was saved. Retrieved February 28, 2020, from https://www.mercurynews.com/2016/06/11/herhold-how-the-mt-umunhum-radar-tower-was-saved/
- Mount Umunhum - Sierra Azul. (n.d.). Retrieved February 3, 2020, from https://www.openspace.org/mount-umunhum-sierra-azul
- Cbs. (2016, May 10). Mt. Umunhum Radar Tower Declared Historic Landmark. Retrieved February 3, 2020, from https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/05/10/mt-umunhum-radar-tower-historic-landmark/