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Contact: Linda Friar, 305-242-7714
HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA -- Superintendent Dan Kimball is pleased to announce that the National Park Service has opened the historic Nike Hercules Missile Base HM-69 located in Everglades National Park to the public for the first time since it was turned over to the park in 1979.
The park is offering guided tours of one of the best preserved relics of the Cold War in Florida. This significant historical site is physically the best overall example of the Nation’s missile defense system close to Cuba and remains virtually the same as it was when official use of the site was terminated in 1979.
This Missile Base was built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers in 1963 at the height of the Cold War, 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, located 160 miles from the Cuban coast, to build a missile site.
The base was listed on the U. S. Department of the Interior’s National Register of Historic Places on July 27, 2004 as a Historic District. The area includes 22 contributing buildings and structures associated with events that have made a significant contribution to American history and embodies distinctive characteristics of the period. Some of the structures that are part of the tour include three missile barns built to contain 41-foot missiles (some with nuclear warheads) a missile assembly building, a guard dog kennel, barracks, control centers within berms that served as blast protection, and a number of other features.
This base is one of four that were built in South Florida; one in north Key Largo (now Key Largo Hammocks State Park), one in Miramar (now a Publix shopping center), one that is now the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Krome Detention Center, and the site in Everglades National Park.
The interpretive tours will be held every Saturday at 2:00 p.m. through March 28, 2009. The tours are free but park entrance fees apply. In order to join the tour, please reserve a space by signing up at the parks Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center, or by calling 305-242-7700. Reservations will be taken up to 30 minutes before each tour. The Ernest Coe Visitor Center is located 9 miles southwest of Homestead on State Road 9336. Tours will be by car caravan. Participants must arrive in the park by 1:30 p.m. and be prepared to drive 14 miles round trip from the visitor center.