Smithton businessman buys former missile site

News-DemocratJuly 12, 2014 

The old Nike anti-aircraft missile site just south of Hecker was sold Saturday during an auction for $227,000, according to media reports.

A Smithton businessman bought the land, according to a reporter on KSDK-Channel 5, which did not release his name. The Republic-Times in Monroe County identified him as Ron Mertens.

Known as Hecker SL-40, it was the home for Nike missiles that weighed five tons apiece and were as long as school buses. They were designed to fire 1,100-pound warheads jammed with high explosives at Soviet bombers headed for the St. Louis region. The military closed the site in 1968.

The Career Center of Southern Illinois, formerly known as the Beck Vocational Center, took over the site and used its 5,000-square-foot bunkers as classrooms for its auto body and diesel engine repair courses. But those programs were moved elsewhere more than 20 years ago.

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