An open house at the Nike missile base in Everglades National Park is a highlight of the park’s upcoming fee-free Veterans Day weekend (Nov. 9-11, 2013).
The missile base open house will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.
Accessible from the park’s Homestead entrance, the base is a well-preserved relic of the Cold War in Florida, and the best remaining example of the U.S. missile defense system close to Cuba. It remains virtually the same as it was when official use of the site ended.
Located just 160 miles from the Cuban coast, the base was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1963, when national security against Soviet attack was America’s main priority after the Cuban Missile Crisis of October, 1962. The base was listed as a Historic District on the U. S. Department of the Interior’s National Register of Historic Places on July 27, 2004.
The area comprises 22 buildings and structures, including three missile barns built to contain 41-foot missiles (some with nuclear warheads), a missile assembly building, a guard-dog kennel, barracks, and control centers within berms that served as blast protection. Also present on the site is a Nike Hercules missile that the park acquired in 2012.
Regular tours of the Nike missile base will begin the following weekend, November 16. For additional information about the base, visit the park’s Web site. For schedule information through the end of 2013, visit the Royal Palm schedule page or call 305-242-7700.
The rest of the park
The Nike missile base occupies just a small portion of Everglades National Park’s 1.5 million acres, a unique subtropical realm encompassing hardwood hammocks, pinelands, sawgrass prairie, mangrove swamps, and the coastal prairie at the extreme southern tip of the Florida peninsula.
You can enter the park at Homestead-Florida City south of Miami, along Tamiami Trail (U.S. Highway 41) west of Miami, and at Everglades City south of Naples.
Activities available in the Everglades include ranger-guided walks, miles of hiking trails to explore on your own, and boat and tram tours. Visitors are welcome to bring their own bicycles to ride on park roads, and canoes to penetrate the vast mangrove swamp. To help you decide what to do there, visit the park’s Plan Your Visit Web page.
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