Everglades National Park soon will have its very own nuclear missile. A decommissioned one, that is.
The 41-foot-long missile, once its rust has been scrubbed free, a fresh coat of paint is applied, and military markings restored, is destined for a once-active missile pad in the Everglades that now is part of the national park.
The missile base was one of four the United States built in south Florida during the Cuban Missile Crisis that was sparked in 1962 when the Soviet Union and Cuba were spotted building missile launch facilities on the island nation.
Military use of the Everglades site ended in 1979 and the facility, dubbed HM69 Nike Missile Base, was turned over to the NPS. In January 2009 the Park Service began offering visitor tours of the Everglades base.
The obsolete Nike missile was obtained from the Anniston Army Depot in Alabama. This past week it was delivered to a Miami high school where students were to begin work on cleaning up the missile. It is expected to be at the Everglades' site in time for the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October.
Public tours of the site are expected to resume in December.