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Old 04-02-2009, 11:04 AM   #1
Questor OP
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Questor visits a Nike Missile site in the Everglades

Hello all.

In my continuing efforts to see as many missile sites as I can, I made my way from Connecticut to southern Florida to see the Nike Hercules missile site that was recently opened to visitors.
(Actually, I was just sick of the cold of New England and this was a good excuse to go south. )

The site was included on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. The missiles were dismantled and removed, but visitors can see the site's administration building, the tiny missile assembly shed, the missile barns and protective berms.

So after touring the Outer Banks of NC, and the coast of Georgia I found my way to the Everglades National Park in Florida.

At the height of the Cold War, antiaircraft missiles stood at the ready in Florida's swamplands, protecting the South from a potential Soviet nuclear bomber attack launched from Cuba. These surface to air missiles could reach mach 4 and and take out many planes at once when they exploded and released shrapnel.

So first we met at the administration building and met our guide.

He told us of the history of the site and the role it played in the cold war.
Here's a picture of what it looked like 40 years ago, from the air.

Here's what the administration builing looks like today.

There used to be five radar towers behind the administration building.

Here's a view of the Administration building and the area around it, as seen from the air.

And behind the radar towers, about a half mile away, were the bunkers where the nine missiles were kept. You can see the three bunkers on the horizon in this picture.

We then went about a half mile to the area where the missiles were kept. After going though the gate, we were given a bit more information about the history of this part of the base.
Here's our guide showing us the flag used by this division.

And here's what the area around the missile part of the base looked like from the air. In front of each missile barn you can see three missiles in the launch area, and if you look closely, you can see one missile being moved into position near the center of the picture.

As you can see, there were three bunkers, each of which held three Nike missiles, and a shed to keep them in until they were rolled out before launching. There was also a building where they assembed the missiles after shipping them to the site.

As I said before, this base is now listed as an Historic Site.

Here's what the Missile Assembly Building looks like now.
(Of course my bike "Beastie" had to get its picture taken there.
That scruffy guy in the background is me. )

More pictures of the assembly building and the missile bunkers in the background.

The assembly building again. We could not go inside due to the lead paint and asbestos ceiling tiles.

A look inside...

Then we went to where the completed missiles were kept.
Three missiles were kept in these sheds, and they could be rolled out to the launch positions outside when needed in a few minutes. Once outside and in position, the missile and the launcher were anchored into place.

Here's what a completed missile looked like.
It was a warhead with a solid rocket booster.

Here's Beastie in front of the misslie hangar.

A simmilar shot without the bike. You can see three pads on the right in front of the storage building where the missiles were achored prior to launch.

A closeup of a launch pad.

Then we went inside the missile hangar. The red areas on the floor indicated where the missles were kept when not on alert status.

More pictures of the interior of the missile building.

The original signs from the base perimeter.

Here's what the missile building looks like again, but here you can see the protective berms that surround the building on three sides.

Then we saw the bunker that the missileers used when they launched the missiles. (We could not go inside) But the bunker was built into the protective berm that surrounded the missile launch area. It was only about 100 feet from where the missile launched from. It must have been one heck of a noise.

So that's my report on the Nike Missile base in the Everglades National Park.
I hope you enjoyed it.

Questor screwed with this post 04-02-2009 at 11:46 AM
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Old 04-02-2009, 11:10 AM   #2
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Very interesting

Interesting to see where our tax dollers were spent. "Beastie" is a great looking ride. The scruffy guy, not so great looking.

Thanks for posting.
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Old 04-02-2009, 11:18 AM   #3
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Looks good!! Did you plant the flag?!!! Thanks for the tour
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Old 04-02-2009, 11:53 AM   #4
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Great report, Q! I really need to take you up to the abandoned radar base sometime, you'd love it.

Enjoy the rest of your trip!

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Old 04-02-2009, 07:12 PM   #5
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Thanks for another great report. Enjoyed reading this along with your other missile silo rides.
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Old 04-02-2009, 07:28 PM   #6
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Great report. We have a bunch of those over here in NJ as I'm sure you can imagine.
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Old 04-02-2009, 08:37 PM   #7
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Great report and pics - thanks for sharing and for the history lesson.
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Old 04-03-2009, 08:40 PM   #8
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Hi Edward, did you guys stay dry after leaving Florida?
Here's hoping for a safe and dry trip. Tell Lisa we said HI.

Charlie & Anne
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Old 04-04-2009, 07:34 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by CPOPE
Hi Edward, did you guys stay dry after leaving Florida?
Here's hoping for a safe and dry trip. Tell Lisa we said HI.

Charlie & Anne
I Charlie.

Yes, we stayed dry. In fact the weather was perfect, low 70's and low humidity. Some places we rode though had recieved 9" of rain the night before. Central Florida was beautiful. Thanks for the routing advice.
We made good time until we got to Atlanta. I knew about the bad traffic, but WOW what a mess. There were at least seven wrecks around the city, and the highways were at a total standstill. We made it to Suches GA by 7:30pm. (Were at TWO right now.) 11 hours total ride time. It was a long day, but now we are in the mountains and the roads are great. I'd almost forgotten how to ride twisties.
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Old 04-04-2009, 08:02 AM   #10
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Great report and some interesting stuff. I remember those days as a teenager and twenty-something. Amazing how many little bits of military history sit just out of sight all over the country. I'm glad that one has become a National Historic Place and opened to visitors.
Mark J
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Old 04-04-2009, 12:51 PM   #11
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Very cool. Looking forward to the next gem!
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Old 04-04-2009, 06:23 PM   #12
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thanks for sharing. it's interesting to see a variety of reports!
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Old 04-07-2009, 09:12 AM   #13
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Hey Questor

I wanted to check out your thread after bumping into you guys in Key West.

The silo report was great and I'm glad to hear you had good weather. I got good & wet in north Florida, Alabama & Tennessee - I might have been a day or two ahead of you. As usual, it all worked out and I had great weather after Friday noon.

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Old 04-07-2009, 12:07 PM   #14
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Love these reports questor
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Old 04-08-2009, 09:01 AM   #15
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Very nice report. I've never seen a Nike site, hope to try and find one when I'm in South Dakota for Sturgis in August.

I don't know if you saw it but I'm also a "missile hunter." Since we don't have many SAMs here in the Western part of the US, I mostly find old ICBM silos. Here's an account of a trip that included a tour of an Atlas E silo in Northern Colorado:

I see you're located in Connecticut. Of course, there are lots of Nike sites in the Northeast, but there are also a dozen Atlas F ICBM silos just a little to your Northwest. They are the only ICBMs ever deployed East of the Mississippi river and they are centered around Plattsburgh, NY. 10 of the sites are in NY and 2 are in Vermont. As far as I know all of them are privately owned and at least one has been turned into a home.

Best internet resource for old ICBMs can be found here:
Martin (AKA ZappBranigan)
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