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This is a site we didn't get to see.  But there is some history down there.   

First, Aerial Photography   1 2 3  (new images updated 7/20/09)  Google map

The closest we got to this site was a gate here:  41370 SW 232 Ave.  25.37923 N, 80.56597 W

From what we've heard and read, this was a Solid Rocket Booster Assembly plant.  It was used by a NASA contractor in the 1960's to build the solid rocket boosters used in the Apollo and other programs.   Why there?   Far from the public, not accessible except for just one road.  Distant from the public for two reasons:  The noise generated by the testing, and danger in case something blew up.   I can only image what would happen today if someone suggest such an installation today.   Explosive chemicals in the middle of the Everglades.  I have to wonder what type of residue was left behind by this work.   We know a lot more about the environment than we did back then.

The end product from this plant was too big to ship other than on a barge.  So this plant was made to be accessible by ship.  This required a 40' deep canal.  It looks like they built an East-West canal that then linked up with the C111 canal that was dredged to be deeper than normal.   A draw bridge was required for US1.   That's abandoned now.   I've been over that bridge many times and never wondered why a drainage canal needed a draw bridge.   It must have been interesting to wait for a bridge opening while parts for a Saturn 5 rocket went by.  

I found out from my father that there was a "Rockwell-Standard" ground breaking down there in 1967.  In fact, he attended.   Competitor to AeroJet?  Same project?

I would really like to hear from anyone who worked at this AeroJet facility.   Or anyone who has been in there.   


Found while searching the net for more info:

"Initially AFRPL had management and technical responsibility for both the 156" and 260" programs, and in 1963 parallel contracts were let to Aerojet and Thiokol for the development of 260" space boosters. The 1965 modification to the DoD/NASA agreement granted full responsibility for the 260" to NASA Lewis Research Center (LeRC), while development of smaller-sized boosters remained with the Air Force. Aerojet acquired a property in Florida 50 km south of Miami, adjacent to Homestead Air Force Base.  The site (74,335 acres, mostly in the Everglades) was accessible by barge so that the finished motors could be easily transported the 400 km north to Cape Canaveral. "

"If you visit S. Florida (Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Keys, etc.) take a trip south to see a couple of old sites that are located on government property. Head South towards the Keys on the Florida Turnpike. Once you reach the end of the Turnpike you will be in Florida City and enter back on US1. (This is about an hour from Ft. Lauderdale.) Heading south on US1 look for the sign marked "Card Sound Road"> It is an alternate route into the keys that will take you away from most traffic (it's marked on most detailed maps). You'll take this road about across the Card Sound Road bridge (about 12 miles) and continue to the flashing yellow light. At the light, turn right (South) and go approximately 4 miles until you see an overgrown radar installation on your left side. If you continue down the road approximately 2 more miles, you will see road on the right (now blocked) that will lead to a missile site. This site contains 3 earth bunkers, several outbuildings and two perimeter fences. This site was last used as a radar station and practice range for the DEA prior to Hurricane Andrew. Since that time, it has not been occupied. The problem with seeing both of these sites is that they are now inside a federal wildlife refuge that is clearly posted and does not allow for entry, parking, etc. The main road is patrolled regularly by Monroe County Sheriffs. You can avoid them and get to these sites by continuins south until you see the entrance to an old development. You can park their since this is the only place that you are allowed to enter the wildlife refuge. Just hike back down the road and duck in the bushes. Better yet, bring your rollerblades and it will be a lot quicker. I visited these sites several times in the past ten years and even knew the security guard at the old radar installation for (I spent my summers during college working at a nearby resort.) A word of caution, the police and locals are very suspicious of strangers in this area. These people live at the "North end" of Key La(Not a silo, but related and cool.) Their is also an old sight that was once owned by Aerojet General (make rockets and depleted uranium shells - check out their website if interested) in the general area. This is a bit harder to find. Take the road towards Everglades National Park (check a map). Once you make the left turn near the prison (yes, prison) you will go approximately 4 miles and on the left side (South Side) of the road will be a two lane paved road that seems to go forever. Down this road approximately 2 miles is the old aerojet facility. You had better hurry to see it. It was damaged during Hurricane Andrew and is now in the process of being cleaned up. The road also continue for several more miles to another facility that must be at or near the edge of the water. The problem is this road is blocked and it is a long, long walk."

I have searched the web, the library and Dade County records for information on this site. I can't find a word about it. Does anyone know what it was used for? It must have been very interesting since it was so remote (I found papers at the sight from the 60's). I asked the people at Aerojet and the only reply I got was, "Why do you want to know?" Please help."

"This is an answer to a question posted way back in the archives (Q&A 3) from titan, regarding the former Aerojet site in the Everglades. This site was used in the 1960s for testing (and ultimately, production) of solid rocket boosters developed under the Large Solid Motor Demonstration Program. These boosters were intended for uprated versions of the Saturn V and Saturn V follow-ons ("Post-Saturn"). A very significant series of tests of a 260-inch, 150-foot-long booster of 9 million pounds of thrust was conducted there in 1965-67."

rev 07/20/2009

    South Florida FM Association, 2003   


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