Bell Laboratories began the Nike missile project in 1945. The project was intended to provide a viable line of site anti-aircraft gun replacement that was capable of keeping up with jet aircraft. Traditional anti-aircraft guns could not match the speed and altitude at which jet aircraft were flying. The first missile system, Nike Ajax, was delivered in 1953.
Nike missile batteries were deployed around large cities and Strategic Air Command bases that were home to long-range bombers (such as Loring AFB). The Nike sites would be placed in a defensive perimeter around whichever city or base they were to protect.
The Limestone site, L31, was positioned to the southeast of Loring AFB, approximately five miles away. L31 was only active from September of 1957 through September of 1958.
To reach the Limestone Nike site from Bangor, take I95 north to Houlton and then take Route 1 north to Mars Hill. Go straight (right) at the fork and take Route 1 north to Limestone. Just before the left turn to Route 89, which leads to Loring, there is a small side street called Grand Falls Rd. Turn right onto Grand Falls Rd and head towards Canada. The missile site is on Nike Rd on the right hand side.
Many of the buildings and much of the original fencing still remains. It appears as though someone is living in one of the buildings and operating a body shop/auto repair shop out of one of the buildings. The buildings are all nicely painted and the lawns are all well maintained. I knocked on the door at the garage and could hear a radio playing, but no one answered.
After having visited the Connor site and finding it in horrible condition, it was a pleasure to visit the Limestone site and find that the missile launchers were in dry, clean condition inside. I can only assume that the current owner is keeping the facility up. I was able to gain access to a missile launcher via one of the escape hatches on the east side of the site, near a classic gas pump. Once inside, I found the missile launcher to be clean with very little standing water or mold. I also found that the staircase that would have been used for regular access was in good working order.
Even though there were rows upon rows of junk cars and snowmobiles, they were neatly lined up and none were leaking fuel or oil onto the ground. As a car guy, I also picked out some classic International pickups, some 1960's Mustangs and a couple of Studebakers. If you're into Cold War relics and classic cars, this is a neat site indeed.
These pictures were taken during an August 2010 visit to Limestone.
The picture at top left comes from the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance website.