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Old 10-22-2007, 04:27 AM   #1
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Questor visits an Atlas F Nuclear Missile Silo

Hello fellow ADVriders.

I’ve been to a place that I want to share with you all.

But first a bit of history, to set the scene.

In 1960, the Cold War was a reality. Complete nuclear annihilation was a daily possibility. The US military began to build Atlas F Missiles and “super hardened” missile launch facilities to protect them, at the cost of 18 million each in 1961 dollars. Children were taught to “duck and cover” under their desks for their protection.

My generation grew up with the knowledge that we could be vaporized by an Enemy “Nuke” at any time. It was part of society, and almost daily conversation. I remember movies like Dr. Strangelove, Red Dawn, The Next Day, A Boy and His Dog, and other movies of nuclear apocalypse.

So I guess, in the back of my mind, I have always fantasized about the idea of living in a restored Missile Silo. I’m not super social, and the idea of just “closing the blast doors” and being alone for a week or two is appealing – so long as I can have my high speed Internet connection.

I had known of these Cold War Silos for a while, and began doing research.
It turns out there is a “ring” of 12 Silos around Plattsburg Air Force Base.
It also turns out that one has been restored and converted to a private residence.
The person who owns it actually lives in Australia, so I made contact with him via E-mail, and made arrangements to visit him the next time he was in the US at his Silo.
I mean how could I not!


OK.
More history…
By the end of 1962, the US Strategic Air Commend had deployed squadrons all over the US. Each of the three missile variants, the Atlas D, E, and F series, were based in progressively more secure launchers. For example, the three Atlas D squadrons, two near F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming and one at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, were based in above-ground launchers that provided blast protection against overpressures of only 5 pounds-per-square-inch (psi).
In comparison the Atlas E squadrons at Fairchild AFB, Washington; Forbes AFB, Kansas; and F.E. Warren were also deployed horizontally, but the majority of the launcher was buried underground. These launchers were designed to withstand overpressures of 25 psi. The six Atlas F squadrons based near Shilling AFB, Kansas; Lincoln AFB, Nebraska; Altus AFB, Oklahoma; Dyess AFB, Texas; Walker AFB, New Mexico; and Plattsburgh AFB, New York were the first ICBMs to be stored vertically in "super hardened" underground silos.
The Atlas-F was deployed in a 175 foot deep underground missile silo that were "hardened" against all but a direct nuclear hit. Made of steel reinforced concrete and ring beams, these concrete cylinders would hold a metal cradle that would be suspended from a suspension system, to protect the whole “cradle” from vibration in case of a nuclear attack. These “cradles” would house the entire missile and the machines needed to fuel and fire it. Each silo had its own Launch and Control Center, which was likewise suspended. An Atlas F site could take an over pressure of 100 psi and lateral ground movement of 1 foot, and survive all but a direct nuclear hit.

Construction began on the site in Lewis NY, known as Boquett 556-5 in June 1960. Throughout the next year, hundreds of workers dug the 12,174-foot-deep, 54-foot-wide holes into the solid rock.

The first missile arrived in April 1962, and the silos were declared operational in December.



More to come...
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Questor screwed with this post 10-22-2007 at 04:52 AM
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Old 10-22-2007, 04:35 AM   #2
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So this past Sunday, I met up with Markbvt, a fellow ADVrider, who you might remember from his great Ride Report on the Mountain Top NORAD Radar site in North Central VT.

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=271024

It was a wonderful, clear, 70 degree day.
The leaves were all yellow, and red, and were quite hypnotic as we rode to the site.
The roads were nice and twisty too.



My mind was back in the 60's. Thinking of a time when these hills were being targeted by the Russians. The US was building underground missile silos, and getting ready for possible Nuclear Attacks. Such a scenic place for all that insanity. For now we ride...

After about two hours we arrive at the predetermined GPS coordinates, and see the gate.


We head up the road and park inside the gates.



When I saw the main Silo doors open, I was already amazed.



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Old 10-22-2007, 04:41 AM   #3
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Old 10-22-2007, 04:48 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Questor

So I guess, in the back of my mind, I have always fantasized about the idea of living in a restored Missile Silo.
But that would mean you'd have to buy furniture





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Old 10-22-2007, 04:50 AM   #5
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OK.

So here's the standard layout.


General Layout: These sites consist of several general elements: Command Building: Two stories 40 feet in diameter. Access was by stairs and through two blast proof doors. Approximately 2,363 square feet of floor space not including stairway or vestibule. Due to the insulation of the earth, heating and cooling needs were minimal.
Missile Silo: The missile silo was a huge structure 50 feet in diameter and approximately 185 feet deep. Access was from a 40 foot tunnel leading from the command building stairway. Missile silo had an approximate volume of 363,062 cubic feet.
Land: Land typically was 19-21 acres. Originally, the inner 5 acres of these sites were surrounded by a barbed wire topped chain link fence.

The Missle: Standing on the launch pad the Atlas was 82 feet tall and weighed 267,000 pounds when fueled. Depending on the model and payload, the missile had a range of 6,400 to 9,400 miles. It was armed with a l-megaton thermonuclear warhead and was guided to its target by either a radio-inertial or all-inertial guidance system accurate to within 1.5 miles.


For pictures I would goto this link:
http://www.missilebases.com/atlasF/atlas.htm#

As a result of Defense Secretary McNamara's 1964 directive to decommission Atlas and Titan I missile squadrons, the Atlas F missiles were removed and the 556th Strategic Missile Squadron was deactivated on ate Month="6" Day="25" Year="1965">June 25, 1965ate>. The Atlas and Titan I systems needed to be fueled outside the launch silo. Things changed with the introduction of the US Titan II and the Soviet UR-100 missile series. Both used new liquid fuels that could be stored in the missiles, thereby allowing for a more rapid launch. These were later supersceded by the Minuteman, a solid fuel rocket.

So basically, they spend $18 million (1960 dollars) in two years.
Put a missile in this fortress between 1962 and 1964, and then leave the silo behind. Sweet.... right?

These Silo Doors are about 25 tons each if my memory serves me correctly.
When activated, the doors could be opened in 28 seconds.



The metal roof and railings are there to stop things like rain and people from falling 185 feet into a pit full of rusted metal and who knows what else.



Very cool so far...
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Old 10-22-2007, 05:03 AM   #6
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So, obviously, if it is an underground missile silo, theres not much to see up top. There's a nice lawn that Alexander (the owner) is working on. I guess it will be nice to look at from the video cameras and monitors when he's down below.

The red and white striped pole was a nuclear detonation detector, and the cement stub and metal door to it's left would house the antenna, that could be quickly raised and lowered. (next to the white propane tank in this pictuire.)



The entrance to the Launch and Conrtol Center.


Detail of the "Emergency Escape Hatch".

(Question: Where are you going to go, now that the world is a nuclear wasteland?")
Or...
(I'm not going outside today, too much radiation. Besides, I'm cozy down here...)

And of course, all Military Bases need some cool vehicles.




And here again. You can see the Silo Doors and the entrance to the LCC in the background.




Want to know more?
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Old 10-22-2007, 05:06 AM   #7
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Old 10-22-2007, 05:06 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beerjonny
But that would mean you'd have to buy furniture





Nice. You hit a nerve on the first shot...
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Old 10-22-2007, 05:15 AM   #9
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Quote:
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Nice. You hit a nerve on the first shot...
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Looks good man, keep it coming.
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Old 10-22-2007, 05:44 AM   #10
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OK.

Let's head down...
The entrance.
Notice the TV dish. Gotta have an 'uplink' to the world...




Alex, our host at the entryway.



Decending the first flight of stairs to the first blast doors.
Looking down.


Looking back up.


You turn right, walk 10 feet, turn left, walk 10 feet, turn right and you see this. Blast Door #1.



When you pull open this 600 pound metal door...





You come to the second Blast Door.



And enter the top of a three level stairway. Keep in mind we have already decended about 30 feet below gound, been through 2 huge blast doors and Containment areas, and now we look down and see more.




Let's go check out Level 1 of the LCC.
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Old 10-22-2007, 05:52 AM   #11
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Fascinating, keep 'em coming!!!
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Old 10-22-2007, 06:15 AM   #12
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Old 10-22-2007, 06:30 AM   #13
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Wow .....

What a flashback to my school years and the Civil Defense drills of the 60's.

..."Put your head between your legs ... And kiss your goodbye"...



Can't wait for the rest of the tour


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Old 10-22-2007, 06:30 AM   #14
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Awesome. Can't wait to see the rest of the pics. Great story.
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Old 10-22-2007, 06:34 AM   #15
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The first thing you notice as you enter the chamber is the center pillar.
Remember that this "room" is actually a 40ft diameter steel reinforced cylinder burried about 100 feet underground. It consists of two "rings" that "hang" from air assited shock absorbers. The two levels are in the same "space" hanging there from big chains and airshocks. It's a big room, and you have no idea that you are so far underground.

Also notice that all the lighting fixtures in the ceiling are hanging from big springs.

Here's the cental pillar that goes from the ground floor in Level 2 through the floor, and to the ceiling of Level 1.



Here you can see the curved wall and one of the four suspension units.




Currently Level 1 is an office and Living room with multiple monitors. There is also a bathroom, kitchen and storage area.

Alexander has quite a few historical pictures of the site as well. When he bought the silo nearly 10 years ago, many of the original fixtures were still there. He has kept most of them and made them into cabinets or furniture. I was facinated, and amazed to be there. I mean really.






Alex told us the story behind all the clocks. He once arrived here from his ultra-long flight from Australia. 30 some odd hours of travleling, plus the drive to the remote location of his silo. He went to sleep. When he awoke, he had no idea what time it was or how long had passed. He was completely disoriented with the combination of the jet-lag and the underground location. He went "up top" only to find it was the middle of the night. The next morning he went and bought a whole bunch of clocks.

So when on Level 1, if you look in the ceiling you see this.


It's the emergency escape hatch.
Remember the center pillar, well if you pull the handle there, this door pops open, and emptys itself of four tons of sand. Once the sand drains, you would climb up the ladder into...???



Pretty cool huh?

On to Level 2 of the LCC.
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