Several days and a few hundred miles from my ultimate destination, a Titan missile silo complex in Colorado still open for exploration, I had a raging case of ICBM fever. Hoping for temporary relief, I stopped to check out a partially unearthed Titan II in Southeastern Arizona.
The morning after my ride into Tucson, I enjoyed a hearty breakfast at Mother Hubbard’s Cafe. The waitress seemed to be having a rough morning, so I tried to brighten her day by being extra polite and smiling a lot. I must have given her the wrong impression because as I was leaving she slipped me her number. It happened so fast that I didn't get a chance to tell her that I'm already spoken for and that I'm not into women. I sure did appreciate the compliment though. Hopefully she wasn't too heartbroken when I never called.
I navigated a series of rural highways until I reached a little dirt road out in the middle of nowhere. There was a simple gate of two thick metal bars to keep vehicles out, but no signs warning away trespassers.
I jumped the gate and wandered the property with a few interesting features, including a rusty metal thingamajig,
An odd cement bucket thing,
a monolithic concrete cube,
several giant concrete cylinders protruding from the ground,
and a rusting metal dome.
I climbed onto one of the cylinders, hoping there might be a way into the subterranean complex, and wasn't too surprised to find that the hatches had all been sealed.
During the height of the Cold War, Arizona's Davis-Monthan Air Force Base was home to 18 Titan II nuclear ICBMs. The three-phase construction began in 1960 and was completed in 1963 after one million man-days of labor were spent on the project.
In October 1981, President Reagan announced that all Titan II systems would be decommissioned as part of a modernization program.
During Operation Rivet Cap in 1983, the ICBMs at Davis-Monthan AFB were removed from their silos and shipped to Norton AFB in California to be dismantled.
I had finished taking pictures and was about to head back to my car, when a white police pickup truck pulled up. The cop, a guy of retirement age with a grown-out crew cut, was quite friendly.
I told him I was there to take a few pictures and didn't realize I was on private property. He said that people often steal the no trespassing signs, which is why none were posted. We talked for a while and he told me he’d like to own a missile silo, but they’re ridiculously expensive because they’ve become collectors’ items. He said I should check out the Titan Missile Museum in Sahuarita, Arizona. I was tempted to check it out, but didn't have enough time if I wanted to be in New Mexico by the day's end.
Next stop: a creepy miniature golf course outside Willcox, AZ.
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