Nov 092011

In September I took a trip to Wyoming for a week.  Although not exactly full of epic locations we did find a few places that were worth a look.

In the windy high prairie around Cheyenne lie the remains of several intercontinental ballistic missile bases.  Visiting a missile base is something that I always wanted to do.  There are a few bases that have been turned into historical sites The Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Site for example is one that I plan to visit someday however for now I wanted to see the remains of the one that isn’t a museum.

Base Overview from Google Maps

I had a list of about 4 of them that looked possible however it was mid afternoon before we even made it to the area.  We checked out the first one via the back roads and found that it was buried deep inside private property where even the county roads where private and posted with many no trespassing signs.  We then headed to the main entrance and saw someone opening the gate to the base.  We decided to try the asking for permission approach.  As we approached he saw us and he quickly closed the gate behind him and jumped into his SUV and took off which I have to say was strange.  We then decided to head to another facility all together.  It was quite a bit further than we expected and found it too was fenced off and didn’t exactly look too inviting.  We decided to go back to the first one and just risk entering it from the back roads as we were running out of daylight and didn’t have time to look at the other two – it was now or never.

We approached the base and decided if we were confronted to use the ignorant Canadian tourist angle however that wasn’t necessary as we made it in and out unscathed.  The base is an Atlas D base that utilized a semi hard facility in which the missile was stored above ground horizontally.  There is a 400 ton overhead door that would be opened and the missile would be raised to a vertical position and then fueled to be ready for launch.  This facility went on operational alert on September 2, 1960 and was inactivated on March 25, 1965.  I found it hard to believe that this impressive facility was only used for such a short time period.  It was replaced by titan II facilities that didn’t involve the extra time of lifting the missile before it was ready to launch.  All the overhead doors are left open and I wonder if that was done when they were closed or after.  I know some of the treaties for removing missiles required the doors to be left open to prove there wasn’t a missile inside however I believe those treaties were long after 1965.

Base overview with location labels

We explored the closest launcher we could get to and then realized that the vehicle I had seen earlier at the gate was parked at one of the other launchers along with another vehicle – I think they were just hunters but I didn’t want to risk it and be seen by them so we only explored the single launcher however all 3 would be identical.  The most interesting thing about the launchers in my opinion was the fact they still had the missile cradle/erector in them.  From the launcher we checked out the mostly pillaged power plant – almost all the original equipment was long gone.  We then moved on to the guidance control / launch facility which was heavily vandalized in the 46 years since it was closed.  It still contained many racks in the original computer / server room.  The amount of money that must have been spent building this facility is staggering.  I hope you enjoy the photos and a look at a location that is uniquely American.

One of the Missile Launchers
The missile launcher as we made our approach

Missile Cradle
The launcher with the intact missile cradle

Looking down the blast channel for the exhaust from the rocket
Looking down the blast / exhaust channel

Another shot of the cradle
Another view of the missile cradle

Another launcher with vehicles from what I believe were hunters
Looking at another launcher with the vehicles that I believe belonged to the hunters

Stripped power / heating plant
The stripped power / heating plant

Entrance to the guidance control / launch facility
Looking inside the door of the guidance control / launch facility

Remains of the guidance / launch computers - lots of racks!
The remains of the guidance / launch computer room

Remains of the bathrooms in guidance control / launch facility
Bathrooms in the guidance / launch facility

Outside of the guidance / launch facility
Outside view of the guidance / launch facility

Looking back at the power plant as we made our exit
Looking back at the power plant as we made our exit

After exploring this base we headed to one of the other facilities on our list and it looked very doable as a location but we were tired and the sun was setting and we had a 3 hour drive ahead of us to the city we planned on spending the night. So next time we go we have a potential location to see.

 Posted by at 21:55