Moorestown, New Jersey: Cornfield Cruiser - USS Rancocas (LS-1)

Formerly a US Air Force Space Command site, it still looks as if a battleship has beached itself off of the New Jersey Turnpike.
Address:
300 Moorestown Centerton Rd, Moorestown, NJ
Directions:
I-295 exits 43 or 43B. Take Creek Rd west to the first light and make a left. Cross Hartford; it will be about a quarter of a mile on your left.
Hours:
No tours, visible from highway.
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Visitor Tips and News About Cornfield Cruiser - USS Rancocas (LS-1)

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USS Rancocas - Cornfield Cruiser

My family once owned property adjacent to the USS Rancocas. It is located close to the intersection of Hartford Road and Centerton Road next to I-295, and the New Jersey Turnpike. My grandparents lived very close to the site, within walking distance, and my mother remembers when it was built. Nike missile sites also dot the area, and RCA had their engineering complex close by, which is now owned by McDonnell-Douglas.

Up until the very early 1970s, prior to the big residential construction boom in the area, the USS Rancocas was one of the only large structures in the area. The area used to be a hotbed of activity during the cold war years. The RCA complex and its people were responsible for devising top secret equipment for the military, and many of the world's top engineers were working there.

Prior to 9/11, the complex was relatively borderless, but heightened security concerns caused them to build a tall chain link fence around the entire facility. I can only imagine what technologies were devised there. Clearly, RCA and AEGIS were connected at one time, which is why the USS Rancocas is in a location closely adjacent to what is now McDonnell-Douglas. Without question, this area was ground zero for military intelligence and technology for the entire country at one time. It's fascinating to me to have been raised so close to it. In the early 1990s, it was possible to tour the AEGIS facility/USS Rancocas. I did so as a Boy Scout, and it was a very interesting experience. It was full of enlisted Navy personnel, and was the test site for the newest radar technology available. It's a training facility, and internally, it is basically a landlocked functional battleship.

The days of touring that facility are long gone, given its strategic and military significance in a post 9/11 world, but I feel fortunate to have seen it when I did.

[Brian Eastburn, 07/04/2013]
Cornfield Cruiser

The "Cornfield Cruiser" is actually located in Moorestown, on the Mt. Laurel border. Located in what was a remote, little populated part of Moorestown, it has slowly been built up in the area (by the Toll Brothers). After September 11th, they have built a fence and have guards admit workers. It's been there for as long as I can remember (my aunt lived in Moorestown in the early to mid-'70s and I have been a resident since 1975).

[Sandi Kolbeck, 07/20/2003]
Cornfield cruiser. Cornfield Cruiser - USS Rancocas

Thought you might like a picture of the USS Rancocas, the "Cornfield Cruiser", located in Rancocas (Moorestown?) NJ. I spent many hours there (equally balanced with time spent at Ott's Tavern just down the road). Back in the early '70s it was a US Air Force Space Command site. It had a huge radome (golf ball) on it. The Navy took over the site for Aegis weapon system testing and crew training.

[Hans Schneider, 01/20/2001]
Interior view of Cornfield Cruiser. Cornfield Cruiser

Having worked at the "Cornfield Cruiser," or "Ship in the Cornfield," here's what goes on there:

It is the test facility for the U.S. Navy's AEGIS Fleet Defense System. The facility is commissioned as: USS Rancocas.

The USS Rancocas does have a designator (BB=Battleship;CL=Light Cruiser, etc.) but I don't remember what it is. It may be LBT (Land Based Test facility), LLS (Land Locked Ship), or LBS (Land Based Ship)?

It is in a cornfield because the land upon which it is built is owned by a farmer that still grows corn there. The owners of the facility have a 99-year lease. Upgrades developed at this facility are then installed on the USS Norton Sound for testing at sea. The final product is then transfered to combat ships, USS Ticonderoga for example.

Every year, on the first Saturday in December, the Rancocas is decorated with flags that read "GO NAVY" and "BEAT ARMY."

[Phil Willows, 03/11/1999]

Photo of interior provided by Hans Schneider. August 2007 - Tipster "Stuart" writes about the official designation: "I was stationed there and it is USS Rancocas (LS-1). LS-1 is land site one."

Cornfield Cruiser

Visible off on western side of the New Jersey Turnpike around mile marker 39, seemingly rising out of the fields, is a building, painted battleship grey, that is topped with a full-size replica of the superstructure of a naval vessel. A sign out front declares that this is "Surface Warfare Systems." Friends of mine all refer to it as the Cornfield Cruiser.

[Jeff Dunne, 11/24/1998]

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