During the cold war, America’s ICBM program was the key to America’s safety. The certainty that if our nation’s enemies decided to unleash nuclear hell within our shores, we possessed the arsenal and willpower to decimate those enemies was a tenuous, but powerful, way to assure a public that grew up with the threat of nuclear war looming over their heads. In a perfect world, American children wouldn’t have grown up practicing for nuclear war, hiding beneath their desks and chanting “duck and cover,” but in our imperfect reality, mutually assured destruction was the preferable alternative to nuclear winter and the end of mankind as we knew it.
In order to ensure America could strike back at foreign enemies even after the bombs had hit, nuclear bunkers and ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) silos were constructed all throughout the country. Often, these massive structures were housed entire beneath the surface of the ground, hidden from American citizen and enemy spy alike. They were designed for their sparse crews to survive nuclear detonations on American soil, return fire, and sustain themselves within the bunkers long enough to hopefully begin rebuilding the American nation. This somber duty came with a single saving grace: the understanding that one’s position within the nuclear arsenal guaranteed you a place among the survivors, and possibly one of the few remaining roles in the American government or military.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, America’s nuclear arsenal began to change shape. Smaller, tactical warheads were favored over giant sky scrapers of national destruction (at least to an extent) and many of these hardened facilities found themselves without a missile to house, and further, without an impending nuclear threat to warrant its continued, and expensive maintenance. Many were left empty and unattended for decades, only to be rediscovered in recent years by real estate developers.
My recent article about what not to do in a zombie apocalypse prompted some well thought out and intelligent discussions not only about the logistics of a real emergency situation, but the psychology behind the seemingly uniquely millennial fervor for a world ending of some sort. Our popular culture is saturated with various forms of Armageddon, and it’s created a subculture in America that wants to purchase supplies, equipment, and even real estate to ensure they are prepared for the worst.
These “preppers” are often the subject of some light-hearted mockery, but for many people in the veteran community, not everything these preppers say and do comes off as unwarranted or wacky… in the marketing Venn diagram of prepper paranoia and veteran concerns about security, a fairly large swath of sales and services appeal to both parties for one reason or another. Sometimes it’s a genuinely creative and ingenious solution to a common field problem, sometimes it’s a piece of weaponry that’s more powerful or reliable existing platforms… and sometimes it’s appealing to both parties because it’s just too awesome not to be. Sometimes, just sometimes, it’s an ICBM missile silo that’s been turned into a house… and then put up for sale.
A little web research will reveal that there are actually a number of former missile silos for sale in the United States. Often, they are little more than stripped office space and a concrete silo beneath a serene patch of grass, but occasionally someone with the funding and propensity for Bond villainy purchases such a fixer upper. Elaborate houses, some with their own private airfields, sit atop multiple stories of secure, enforced and impenetrable living space hidden beneath the earth. Some of these silos are equipped for continued use as a fallout shelter in the event of the very war the silo was built to protect against, complete with functioning air and water purification equipment and supplies to weather the nuclear storm. The truly incredible silos have met those tactical standards and exceeded them by installing housing featured below the ground that can leave a guest unsure as to whether they are in a subterranean weapon’s silo or a well-appointed residential home.
I’ll readily admit that, although my wife and I are like minded, she has occasionally met my “I need another gun for this specific, if unlikely, scenario!” planning with rolled eyes and a sigh, but even she can’t help but agree that there’s something to be said for having a library appointed with dark wood shelving and fully stocked bar fifty feet below our mailbox and behind a three-foot blast door.
There are websites devoted to finding your perfect missile silo. Whether you’re a penny pinching handyman looking for a fixer upper or an executive with deep pockets and a taste forthe finer things, you can likely find the right silo for you somewhere in the United States.
The only question remains, who’s down to help me move my couch down eleven flights of stairs?
Images courtesy of Realtor.com and New Atlas