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Secret Nuclear Facility in New Jersey Now a Ghost Town of Tunnels



For nearly twenty years, Picatinny Arsenal, one of the most secret locations in the United States, was housed in New Jersey, an unusual location for a nuclear weapons site. During the Cold War, it changed from being a military research and development facility to a clandestine assembly and storage site for bombs, warheads, and missiles. It is empty now, the tunnels whispering about atomic mystery long ago.

The Origins of Picatinny Arsenal

Originally created in 1880 as a powder storage for the US Army, Picatinny Arsenal over time grew to include military technologies such as electronics, rockets, and explosives. Under the pretext of Project 76, it was secretly transformed into a nuclear weapons facility in 1951, a move coordinated by the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project (AFSWP) and the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC).

The Structure and Function of the Facility

The two different zones that made up Picatinny Arsenal were the administrative A area, which included offices, labs, and warehouses, and the secretive Q area, which was used for assembling, storing, and inspecting nuclear weapons. These areas, which were separated by both physical obstacles and concealment, perfectly captured the facility’s covert essence.

Picatinny Arsenal handled a variety of nuclear weapons, including bombs and warheads, and performed logistics, maintenance, and inspection work. The facility functioned with the strictest security and secrecy under the watchful eye of the AFSWP and AEC.

The Life and Legacy of the Facility

Employing hundreds, mostly from Rockaway and Dover, Picatinny Arsenal insisted on strict secrecy oaths and security clearances. Workers juggled the clandestine nature of their profession with everyday routines, navigating a paradoxical existence. The facility was operational until 1969, when it was decommissioned, ending its secret period. Declassified in the 1990s, it is nonetheless an abandoned relic that bears witness to the terrible legacy of the Cold War.


The hidden history of New Jersey is embodied in Picatinny Arsenal’s secret existence. It was essential to the US nuclear weapons program and ran in secret, with employees under strict security and quiet guidelines. It was abandoned in 1969, but it nevertheless stands as a mute reminder of an atomic tension-era.

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