Inside a Titan 1 Missile Base

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By Jonathan H

Access Tunnel at Deer Trail Titan Base
Titan bases contain over 2,500 feet of underground passages, built to withstand a nuclear attack as close as 3,000 feet away (photo copyright Jon Haeber).

Over 1/2-mile of underground passageways; three 150-foot-deep launch silos; PCBs, lead paint, zinc, cadmium, mercury — it’s a toxic soup, stagnant for over 40 years.

3D Diagram of the Titan 1
Photo courtesy

In 1962, these gigantic underground complexes began to take shape. Menacing images of power domes 150 feet across and two stories high put anyone lucky enough to see these underground cities in awe. They were said to support a 150-man army for 30 days. They could withstand a nuclear blast from less than 3,000 feet away.

Inside the Titan Silo
Photo copyright Jon Haeber

And today, frozen icicles of contaminated groundwater hang from its rusticated quonset-hut-like ceilings. Breathing the air inside of a Titan base is not recommended. One breath will make you wonder how anything could survive within it.

The U.S. had 54 of these silos dotting the Midwest and West Coast. From Beale A.F.B in California to Lowry A.F.B. outside of Denver, CO these places were once the bargaining chips in a Cold War standoff with the Soviet Union. These were missiles that could travel across the upper atmosphere at speeds 25 times the speed of sound. They could hit targets over 6,000 miles away and deploy a 4 megaton nuclear warhead, a yield of destructive force that is theoretically 200 times the 20 Kt bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Latrine Door at ICBM Base
Photo copyright Jon Haeber

Today, only an empty shell remains. Some are filled in with water, others turned into tourist destinations; and still others on the market as potential “wine cellars or underground rock climbing gyms”

Titan Tunnel Branch
Photo copyright Jon Haeber

There’s one thing this author knows: Walking through an abandoned Titan missile base is a life-altering experience. Straddling the precarious catwalks and 2,500 feet of underground passages, looking down into the abyss of the 155-foot launch silo, and donning a P95 respirator to protect yourself from the toxic fumes — all of it makes you feel as if you’re walking in an alien environment and that you’re one of the few lucky people to have seen this modern wonder. At one time, these places were the landmark sites of the U.S. military industrial complex. Today, they only represent the incredible amount of money spent (wasted?) on the U.S. war machine.

Further Research

59 comments on “Inside a Titan 1 Missile Base

  1. Hugh Wade on said:

    Al friend of mine now deceased was an army officer at a missile site near St. Louis, MO in the early
    1960’s. Can anyone tell me the name of that site.

  2. dennis merr on said:

    There are NO titan I sites out there- possibly a Titan II or Atlas F this is the address to a list of most missile site locations- hope it helps

  3. dennis merr on said:

    sorry, wordpress wont allow me to send a link on here- shoot me an email

  4. dennis merr on said:

    male41ca at yahoo dot com

  5. Matt on said:

    Dennis….. I live a mile from Complex 1A. I assure you….. there are Titan 1 sites still in existance.

  6. Dennis Merr on said:

    Matt- i have toured one in California, and have pictures of nearly all the rest– BUT- there are NONE in Missouri, which was my point

  7. So which ones can you get into? I been inside the Dear Trail one in CO, I have some YouTube videos. Looking to see if others have a way in to document?

  8. Dennis Merr on said:

    Mark- good to hear you got into Deer Trail before it got closed up-
    there is one site in Washington state that offers paid tours, the rest require some illegal rope work to access

  9. Mike on said:

    Now that sucks it got closed up. Maybe in the future. I would love to own that site. Now that would be amazing thing for me. My eyes become big as saucers. It will have to remain a dream. I’m glad you guys got go inside it. I think they did it. Inorder to keep out trespassers. I remember my step daddy telling me. If got in trouble of stealing. They would take him home. The next day they went to guy. He picked watermelons for a whole day. The watermelons were heavy. Then he got to take one home. But after that he never stole again. Once again I’m glad you guys got go inside one. ????????.

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