CAMP KROME

Nike Missile Base HM-95, D Battery

The abandoned missile site turned graffiti gallery in southwest Miami

Camp Krome | Photo © 2015 Sugarbomb

Formerly known as Nike Missile Site HM-95, Battery D, the site was built in 1965 in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis. When U.S. spy planes discovered Soviet nuclear missiles on the island of Cuba, the site was one of several designed to protect Miami against Soviet or Cuban attack. HM-95 belonged to a family of over 200 bases for the U.S. Army's Project Nike, the United States' first operational anti-aircraft missile system.

 

This area was the IFC - or Integrated Fire Control - area of the facility, responsible for targeting and fire control. The HM-95 site was comprised of two separate areas about a mile apart; the IFC Site and the Launcher Site. The companion to this area, the former Launcher site, is located at what is now the Krome INS Facility and included launch pads for Nike and Hercules missiles. Had an enemy attack been detected, IFC personnel, along with personnel at other similar sites to the north, west and south, would have fired anti-aircraft missiles, some of which reportedly had been nuclear-tipped.

 

After being decommissioned in 1979, the site remained under the control of the US government and in the mid-1980s was reused as a CIA Office of Communications high frequency radio transmitter site. In 1992, the site sustained damage from Hurricane Andrew, and was stripped and abandoned shortly after.

Camp Krome |Photo © 2010 Sugarbomb

After its abandonment, it became one of the most well-known graffiti penits as well as a frequent haunt for paintballers and people looking for a scare. Somehow, the story that these old buildings were once a mental asylum caught on, as did a number of ghost stories ranging from that of a woman in white roaming the dilapidated halls asking for help to a homicidal machete-wielding spirit out for blood.

 

Of the number of times I've visited the site over the years, I have never encountered any of these reported entities. In fact, the closest thing to a machete wielding maniac I've seen at Camp Krome was Kaine and the only things rustling through the darkness at night were wild boars - which is actually more concerning than a murderous spirit.

Kaine of the Glades in his natural environment | Photo © 2012 Sugarbomb

I will say that the mood and energy of the place changes pretty dramatically at twilight. The most paranormal action my friends and I ever got there was a growl coming from thin air in an empty room - to which Kaine responded by looking at spot incredulously and asking "Really? REALLY?!" And the growling stopped. Maybe the lady in white and machete murderer never came at us because we're so unimpressed. Who knows?

 

Though it was never the mental asylum that people imagined it to be, the former HM-95 site did gain an unexpected reincarnation as an unofficial open-air museum for street art. Every surface, inside and out, is covered in an ever-changing gallery of graffiti. Every time you return, you're sure to find something new painted on a wall - or floor or ceiling. Far from being your usual collection of hastily spray painted dicks and bad tags, the walls of Camp Krome are adorned with every color imaginable, forming gorgeous works of organic street art. If you ever walked through the halls of the barracks and thought "I wonder who painted that giant, 7-foot tall Diglett?" Just know that it was me. My horoscope one day said; "Create something of beauty and others will appreciate it generously." So I painted a Diglett.

The creation of Giant Diglett | Photo © 2015 Kayla

Federal officials decided that the old structures had become "a hazard" conveniently around the same time that they decided to widen Krome Avenue from Okeechobee Road to Homestead. Krome Avenue was originally a two lane road, with one lane going in either direction and gained a reputation as one of the most dangerous roads in South Florida, so much so that they added giant morbidly hilarious signs reporting the number of fatalities that year on the road. It was supposed to warn drivers to slow down and drive more carefully, but it probably just caused more accidents because people were paying attention to the giant death sign rather than the road.

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The plan for Krome was to expand the two lane road to have two lanes going in both directions with a median in the middle, effectively tripling the size of the original road. In order to accomplish this, demolition crews and bulldozers began descending on the HM-95 site in July 2015 and by August were nearly finished with the demolition of the entire property, further proving that shitty Miami drivers are the reason we can't have nice things.

 

Sometimes I wonder what happened when the workers and machines began ripping into the former boiler building behind the barracks. This building in particular was seldom photographed and even less frequently ventured into because of the sheer amount of bees that had turned the entirety of the inside of the walls into one giant building-wide hive. The enormity of the bee population in that building alone was awe-inspiring, so great in quantity and fierce in defending their building-hive that it even led some poor soul that had no doubt tried to venture inside to spitefully spray paint "FUCK BEES" nearby.

Fuck Bees | Photo © 2013 Kayla

The moment they tried tearing into that building they were no doubt swarmed straight to hell before they knew what hit them. I almost feel bad about that, until I remember that they demoed my awesome 7-foot Diglett.

 

The land that once housed Nike Missile Site HM-95, D Battery is now south bound Krome Avenue.

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