I went with my friend, Carol, on an overnight photo shoot to Homestead Miami. We were on a mission, so to speak. I had visited a Nike Missile site years ago, and wanted to return for photos. I had only a general idea of where it was. Thanks to our Bed and Breakfast hostess, whose exhusband had worked on one of the Nike sites, we were able to locate it. Since this was spur-of-the-moment, it was too late to get permission from the state, and we wondered if we would get arrested for trespassing. Carol, who is the smart one, brought some cash for bond money, just in case. As it turned out, though, the place is a favorite spot for paint ballers and, at its entrance, was a hot dog stand!
Our mission for this day’s “shoot” was to photograph derelict buildings… Here is a link — http://ed-thelen.org/loc-f.html
And a short bit about the Nike Missile Program — During the height of the Cold War in the mid-1950s, the U.S. Army began building the bases, which were to be the last line of defense against an enemy air attack. Rings of these bases, or batteries, were built in rural farmland around major metropolitan areas. The bases had two sections, separated by a half mile and sometimes in different towns. One section was the Control Area with radars and computers, a mess hall and administrative building. The other section was the launch section, where missile components were received and assembled. Once assembled, the missiles were fueled and stored in underground magazines. Both sections had barracks. The bases were guarded and operated around the clock.
There were two models of Nike missiles. The Nike-Ajax and the Nike-Hercules. The Ajax were 34 by 4 feet, with speeds up to 1,600 mph at 70,000 altitude. The Hercules reached speeds up to 3,200 mph at 100,000 feet, and could shoulder nuclear warheads.
The program was deactivated in 1974, but continued in some of the Florida bases through the 1970s.
I’m not sure that touring and photographing a missile site is for everyone, but we enjoyed the outing, as we visited other picturesque (non-missile) South FLorida sites as well. For those of you who have made a reservation at my vacation rental in Lake Worth and want to go on this day trip, I suggest that you make an early start and get there before the paint ballers. It’s also a good idea to call the State Parks and Recs ahead to ask for permission to visit the site.
2008-11-27 » Christine