The “Hole in the Donut” along with Everglades Nike Site or Missile Base were all names for the Nike-Hercules missile base in Homestead, Florida. The site was located on Long Pine Key in Everglades National Park. It opened in 1964 with 22 buildings and closed in 1979 when the government turned it over to the National Park Service.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Homestead-Miami Defense Area was established. It was the last fixed air defense missile system to remain in operation in the continental United States. Intended to protect from missiles fired from Cuba, made the South Florida site unique. Nuclear warheads were armed on a portion of the district’s missiles.
From 1962 to 1965 the battery was temporarily stationed outside the park entrance near State Road 9336. Battery A was completed in 1964. This was the portion of the park known as the “Hole in the Donut,” and was formerly occupied by the Lori Farms.
There were three above-ground launch units in each launch site with four missiles. Due to the high water table, above ground units were required in the Everglades. Coverage was provided by a mobile HIPAR radar unit. Located to the north was a fire control station and is now used by the Park Service as the Daniel Beard Research Center.
On July 27, 2004, Battery A/HM-69 was added to the U. S. National Register of Historic Places. Structures that remain include a missile assembly building, three missile shelters, barracks, and a guard dog kennel. There is also a restored Nike-Hercules missile on display at the site.
Touring the facility
The facility has only been open to the public for a few years. Tours are conducted from December 15thto March 31st, each year. The tour is 90 minutes long, and in order to keep the site secure, you can only visit it on a tour. It is suggested that you schedule your tour before you arrive. According to Ranger Leon Howell, since the tours began at the Nike base, the park has been “overwhelmed by the interest.” The cost for the tour is $30 per car. If you are over 62, get the lifetime senior pass for all national parks for $80. You can get into the park for free on the weekends if you take the Homestead national parks trolley system.
Back when the base was built, Bob Dylan was singing “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” and daily weather reports included information on radiation levels in the atmosphere. Many people were building “fallout shelters” in their backyards, and school children were doing “duck-and-cover drills.”