Indiana’s Nike Missiles Eclipse Operation Skywatch

In 1954, the US military established a national radar net and decommissioned the watchtower. Soon batteries of anti-aircraft Nike missiles joined the radar defenses. Indiana housed several of these Nike missile installations, mostly in Northwest Indiana. These are now repurposed or abandoned places in Indiana. 

These strategic missile batteries were on hand to protect against enemy aircraft approaching Chicago or the industrial belt of steel mills along Lake Michigan. The days of long-range nuclear bombers are gone. Those Nike missiles are equally obsolete, replaced by the subterranean horrors of ICBMs.

The importance of the Cairo Skywatch Tower, both as a relic of the Cold War and as a symbol of American civil defense, led to its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. Nearby is a limestone statue honoring the numerous volunteers of Operation Skywatch, who looked to the skies…

And, thankfully, never saw anything.