Frequently Asked Questions

What IS that building on Mt. Umunhum?

The most prominent feature visible on Mt. Umunhum is a large white tower. Mt. Umunhum was the site of the Almaden Air Force Station from 1958 until 1980. This five story tall concrete building was the base for an early warning RADAR antenna which was used to detect incoming airplanes during the Cold War.

Is the Tower in danger?

The Tower has not yet been preserved, so yes. It has been declared historic by Santa Clara County, and its owner has agreed not to demolish it for now. But repairs necessary to preserve it have not yet been performed, and its condition is slowly degrading.

Who owns the Tower?

Today the summit of Mt. Umunhum, including the Tower, belongs to the Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space District (MidPen), which manages it as part of the Sierra Azul Regional Open Space Preserve. MROSD purchased the former Almaden Air Force Station atop Mt. Umunhum from the Federal Government in 1986.

How much money is required to preserve the Tower?

We don’t yet know. An engineering study is scheduled to be complete in late 2017. That study will identify specific repairs that must be performed. Once that list is known then the repairs can be priced.

Is the Tower historic?

Santa Clara County has placed the Tower on the county’s Heritage Resource Inventory. We hope to secure similar listings at the federal and state level.

What are the Conservancy’s plans for the Tower?

Our goal is to preserve the Tower in a sealed state. Repairs to the exterior of the Tower need to be made; cracks and other damage to the exterior of the building need to be fixed. The building must be painted. Once these repairs are accomplished, the building will be preserved in a sealed state; there will be no access to the interior.

Why not make the Tower into a museum?

The Tower’s owner, MidPen, is not willing to entertain the concept of opening the Tower to the public.

What happened to the rest of the Almaden Air Force Station?

The Almaden Air Force Station atop Mt. Umunhum consisted of dozens of buildings. Hundreds of people lived and worked on the mountain. MidPen has demolished all of these structures and has returned the Air Force Station to a natural state.

The only remaining structures from the Air Force Station are the Tower and the Station’s flagpole.

Is the Tower toxic? Does it need to be cleaned?

No. Cleanup and abatement of toxic hazards left behind by the Air Force Station has been completed. In November 2017 additional lead based paint was discovered. We expect it will be cleaned up quickly.

Are donations to the Conservancy tax deductible?

The Umunhum Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Donations are tax deductible as allowed by law.  The Conservancy’s EIN is 46-1438547.