Everglades National Park is the home of one of the best preserved relics of the Cold War in Florida. A historic Nike Hercules Missile Base, dubbed HM-69, remains virtually the same as it was when official use of the site terminated in 1979.
The United States Army Corps of Engineers completed the missile base in 1964, at the height of the Cold War, and immediately following the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. At a time when national security against Soviet attack was America's main priority, the United States Army chose this strategic site within Everglades National Park, 160 miles from the Cuban coast, to build an anti-aircraft missile site.
Nike Missile Site HM-69 was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on July 27, 2004, as a historic district. The Launch Area and the Battery Control Area include 22 buildings and structures associated with events that have made a significant contribution to American history. Some of the extant buildings and structures include three missile barns, a missile assembly building, a guard dog kennel, barracks and a number of other features.
This site was part of a larger missile defense system built in South Florida in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis. There were four Hercules missile sites throughout Florida: B Battery in north Key Largo (now Key Largo Hammocks State Park), C Battery in Miramar, D Battery (now the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Krome Detention Center), and A Battery the Everglades National Park and known as HM-69.
HM-69 was significant because of the technologies it employed. The South Florida missile defenses were integrated with HAWK missile sites to provide an all-altitude defense capability around South Florida. Approximately 140 crew members operated the three aboveground missile barns and guarded against attacks from Cuban air strikes. The personnel of A Battery received an Army Meritorious Unit commendation, presented for a Cold War deterrence mission.
Today visitors can explore the place where radar towers once stood and the launch area where the missiles were prepared. Visitors can see the missile assembly building and a Section Barn which once housed three to six Nike missiles. Visitors can also peek into the Bunker, where soldiers spent many hours waiting. To find out more about the history of Nike Missile Site HM-69, visit the Everglades National Park website: http://www.nps.gov/ever/historyculture/hm69.htm.
The Nike Missile Site HM-69 (A Battery) is located within the Everglades National Park. Ranger guided tours are offered December-April and depart from the Dan Beard Research Center. The Research Center is approximately a 15 minute drive from the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center. Check the events calendar: http://www.nps.gov/ever/planyourvisit/events.htm for specific tour times, or call 305-242-7015.
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