Filmmaker Hopes Project Will Heal Mt. Tam’s Cold War Scars
MARIN COUNTY (KPIX 5) — During the Cold War, Mount Tamalpais was altered to make way for nuclear missiles.
The climate of fear that supported construction of a Nike Missile base on top of the mountain is the subject of a new documentary called “The Invisible Peak.” Using special effects, it shows how the mountain’s west peak was leveled and a hundred acres bulldozed to make room for the military base.
Now, a unique collaboration of federal, state and local agencies will try to begin fixing the damage with a multimillion dollar project.
Volunteer fire lookout Gary Yost spent more than a year shooting, writing and editing the video of the mountain and the damage left behind after the government decommissioned the Nike base.
“The Invisible Peak,” is narrated by Marin county resident and actor Peter Coyote and includes interviews with former radar airplane spotters. They tell how they were ready 24 hours a day to release short range nuclear tipped missiles from atop the mountain if Soviet bombers were discovered headed for the west coast.
The base was decommissioned in the early 1970s, when Soviet conventional bombers were replaced by intercontinental ballistic missiles. The military abandoned the mountain and left behind a mess that has remained for decades.
Yost said he produced the documentary to support efforts to clean up the old base and open the mountain’s most magnificent views to the million hikers and other visitors who come to there each year.