Anchorage Hillside Star Memories
Did you know that the “Site Summit Star” was actually a gift to Anchorage? Discover the history of what has become an Anchorage icon.
Photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman James Richardson
Perched on the side of Mount Gordon Lyon in the Chugach mountains overlooking Anchorage, and illuminated during those long winter nights, the “Site Summit Star” was a gift to Anchorage from the soldiers at Site Summit.
Nike Site Summit
The U.S. Army established a Nike Hercules missile installation on Mount Gordon Lyon in the Chugach mountains overlooking Anchorage in 1958 to help protect the U.S. during the Cold War.
You can learn more by visiting Friends of Nike Site Summit and enjoy the history.
How the Star Began
Battery Commander, Captain Douglas Evert had an idea.
In 1958, he wanted to set up a 15 foot illuminated star on the Site Summit gate house as a holiday symbol that would be seen and enjoyed by all of Anchorage.
But the first star was too small.
So, a 117-foot star replaced the original in 1960.
An avalanche destroyed the star in 1989.
Later, the damaged star was replaced by a 300-foot wide star (it’s current size).
Compare that to the length of a football field, which is 360 feet.
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That’s a Lot of Bulbs
Photo by Crystal A. Jenkins, US Air Force
Can you guess how many bulbs it takes to light up a 300-foot star?
There were around 350 bulbs that required year round maintenance. Yes, those light sockets froze and the movement of snow caused damage as well.
In 2022, Rope Lights have now replaced the 300 light bulbs.
Water color courtesy of Alaskan artist Cindy Pendleton
According to a Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson publication, the star is lit every year on Thanksgiving and remains lit until the last Iditarod musher crosses the finish line in Nome – sometime in March.
The Nike Site Summit Star
Now, as the Site Summit Star shines its most welcome light for all of Anchorage to see and enjoy, we hope you will take a moment to tell us about your favorite Site Summit Star memories.
From our North Stars (that’s you)
“Always enjoy your weekly stories and history of Alaska!”
In the photo above from left to right are Anna, Sybil, Mike, and Tom.
Yes, Mike is the same Mike of Anchorage Memories. Only much younger than he is now. All of us love Christmas.
In the photo above, Mary of Anchorage Memories stands on the beach at Point Possession, her families commercial fishing site. Mary loves Christmas too.
In the photo above, Mary and Mike visit with Peter Bie, known as Jerry Rose when he was a popular Anchorage radio personality.
Did you enjoy our look at the Nike Site Summit Star?
We’d love to read your comments. You can also email us just to say, “hey, I remember Jerry Rose.”
You can reply to this email or Contact Us right now.
Until Next Time
Mike and Mary
Candee - great question. I think it's still the military, but I could be wrong.
Michael - you are very welcome - it's a fascinating story -