Geiger Manual Direction Center SM-172

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Geiger Manual Direction Center SM-172 (1954-1958) - A Cold War Manual System Direction Center that was first established in 1954 on Geiger Field, Spokane, Spokane County, Washington. Named after the location. Assigned a Permanent System ID of SM-172. Deactivated as a Manual Direction Center in 1958.


Established in 1954 and became operational on 8 Oct 1954 as the Geiger Manual Direction Center SM-172.

The Manual System Command Centers were based on the standardized AC&W infrastructure site design of the Chicago design firm of Holabird, Root & Burgee. These designs dated to 1949 but construction did not begin on any facilities until after the beginning of the Korean War. At system completion, 16 of these command centers were built. The Command Center was designated as a Type 4 Site while the most common operations center configuration at the AC&W radar sites was the Type 2. The Type 2 Operations Center had similar characteristics to the Type 4 Direction Center except the operations centers were single story. The site designs included, where appropriate, a power plant, an administrative building and one or two radomes all incorporated into a secure compound. The Command Centers and the Operations Centers can be easily identified by a small louvered ventilation tower that rises above the roof.

Key features of the Type 4 Manual Control Center
  • Reinforced concrete column-and-beam structure, oversized columns and thick beams
  • Flat, reinforced concrete roof (thick)
  • Double concrete-block exterior walls, with intervening airspace
  • Four-inch thick interior concrete-block walls
  • Heavily protected communications cable trenches
  • Exterior pilasters (reinforcing strengthening)
  • Windowless
  • Outer- and inner-lock rooms
  • Air baffles and chemical filter banks
  • Pressurized interior air system (air conditioning)
  • Ventilation shaft (tower)
  • Clean- and contaminated-clothes areas, with disinfector
  • Decontamination showers
  • Gas-proof clothes chutes
  • Communications, code equipment, and message rooms
  • Two-story, open central operations room with balcony glassed-in observation cubicles
  • War room
  • Associated administrative building (type 3 station), power plant, and radomes

The Manual System Direction Centers did not survive the transition into the SAGE System because they were far too small for the massive SAGE computers and consoles and did not have big enough power or HVAC plants. The radar site Type 2 operations centers did survive into the SAGE System but each one required the construction of an attached SAGE Annex for the large FST-2 computer system and later additions were necessary for those chosen as BUIC Sites.

The Geiger Manual Direction Center SM-172 remained operational until 15 Aug 1958 when the Larson SAGE Direction Center DC-15 at Larson Air Force Base became operational.

Geiger Manual Direction Center SM-172 Radar Sites (edit list)
Location Type State Unit ADC NORAD JSS From To GPS Notes
Condon AFS OR 636th P-32 Z-32 1954-10-08 1958-08-15 45.23667,
To Larson DC-15
Othello AFS WA 637th P-40 Z-40 1954-10-08 1958-08-15 46.72139,
To Larson DC-15
Baker AFS OR 821st SM-149 Z-149 1954-10-08 1958-08-15 44.58639,
Mica Peak AFS WA 823rd SM-151 Z-151 J-79 1954-10-08 1958-08-15 47.57406,
To McChord MDC P-4
To Larson DC-15
Curlew AFS WA 638th P-06 1954-10-08 1958-08-15 48.87722,
Colville AFS WA 760th P-60 1954-10-08 1958-08-15 48.59083,
To Larson DC-15
Yaak AFS MT 680th P-11 1953-02-16 1958-08-15 48.86222,
To McChord MDC P-4

Current Status

No Remains although some older satellite images still show the building.

Location: Geiger Field is now Spokane International Airport near Spokane in Spokane County, Washington.

Maps & Images

Lat: 47.62306 Long: -117.51444

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 2,385'

GPS Locations:

See Also:


  • Cornett, Lloyd H. & Johnson, Mildred W., A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization (1946-1980), Office of History ADC, Peterson AFB, Colorado, 31 Dec 1980, 179 pages, Pdf, page 53.
  • Weitze, Karen J., Ph.D., Cold War Infrastructure for Air Defense: The Fighter and Command Missions, Prepared for Headquarters, Air Combat Command Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, Nov 1999, Contract DACA63-98-P-1363 United States Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District, 167 pages, Pdf


Fortification ID:

  • WA0158 - Geiger Manual Direction Center SM-172

Visited: 23 Jul 2015

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