Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Titan Missile Museum, Green Valley, AZ. This is only a test.

We were invited on a private tour of southern Arizona, so we grabbed our leashes and waited by the truck.

 This is a test of the Emergency Broadcasting System

We had one special request on the way, to see the Titan Missile Museum in Green Valley, AZ.


Being a dovish Cold War child, I wasn't sure I'd like this place at all. 
That's why I'm in the commander's chair.
Drunk again, Captain Janeway?
Just to the right of my wobbly head is one of many shock isolation springs that were designed to buffer the facility from the physical shock of a nuclear blast.

There were 54 of these Titan missile silos in the US.


Chuck and I confirmed a legitimate launch code, and together we finished up the annihilation of our planet. Chuck was one of four crew members in one of these facilities. Each crew of four had a 24-hour shift. No one was allowed to be alone, except in crew's quarters.

Titans were intended to be a retaliatory weapon in a program of Mutually Assured Destruction. Each site was programmed for three target sites, which are still classified. No one in any of the crews knew which city they would be obliterating with a 9 megaton payload. Once the keys were turned, the trigger could not be unpulled. The propellants would mix and combustion would be underway. Within 58 seconds the missile would launch.

The target sites are still top-secret, because they may still be active target sites today.

These men (and women, after 1978) knew that if they were launching their intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a nearby strike was likely. They had 30 days worth of food and 15 days worth of recirculated air. At that time, the crew commander would have to decide whether they stayed and suffocated, or emerged into a nuclear world 45 vehicle-less miles across a mountain range from the nearest rally point.


If you're older than 30, all this stuff is permanently part of your psyche. A tour group of teenagers followed us, and I wished I could be in their heads.

When I was very young I kept my eye open for these buildings:

fallout shelter

This on the TV could ruin my day.

  Titan II ICBM

All of the Titans are decommissioned and deactivated. The Minuteman III is still very much alive. It delivers a mere 170 kiloton blast (2% of the Titans' power), but it can ring the doorbell in three locations at once. There are 450 active Minutemen in three bases in the Midwest. It's harder to get a tour of these sites.

Titan II ICBM in silo

I recommend seeing this; it's worth your $10. I was sobered, but not for long. We went directly to Tubac for margaritas.


Pin It


Kimbopolo said...

I must say you looked perfectly comfortable controlling the fate of the planet.

My dad was a Minute-Man. No jokes please, as my mom would say.

Lynne (WinnieViews) said...

Hysterical-- those pics of you and Chuck "finishing up the annihilation of the planet" are priceless! You Ducks never cease to amaze us readers with the little-known roadside attractions you find. Glad you enjoyed your Southern AZ tour!

Pat said...

The Titan museum and Tubac, now there's opposite ends of the spectrum. I love looking at all the artsy stuff in Tubac.

klbexplores said...

I should never be surprised by the exploits of the ducks... A fun and very different post today. Well done!

Grace said...

How nice to get a tour!
That museum is definitely sobering. Sure brings back cold war memories. I'm very glad that was an experience we didn't have!
There are a couple great bead stores in Tubac. Even better after a margarita.
I see you came back up through Patagonia and Sonoita. What did you think of that area?
I can't wait to see what you do next.
Grace (in Tuscon) oops!

JO said...

Love Tubac. And this weekend is the 4TH Avenue Street Fair in Tucson. I left you guys a voice mail the other day. Guess you still haven't found your phone. LOL

Gaelyn said...

Back to the black days of duck and cover.

Bob said...

I think I'd be needing a drink or six after that visit.
Kind of sobering, even with the "coolness" factor.

And *ahem*, I wouldn't know, but I hear it only "takes a minute".

The Odd Essay said...

We took that tour... or rather Bill took the entire tour... I couldn't handle the claustrophobia I felt underground and immediately was brought back to the top. Interesting times, weren't they?

Karen and Al said...

What an interesting tour. It sure brought back memories.

Cj Cozygirl said...

TUBAC - oh ya!!!! Still have my favorite mesquite cutting board and favorite print by an artist of a train and fairy in Bisbee from there more than 15 years ago! Wondered if still small and quaint or a mega shopping area now.

Soaring Sun said...

TV Guide version of your blog post: In this episode, the Ducks go on a missile tour and then go get bombed.

Anonymous said...

Crazy—I didn't know there were any Titan missile silos that far south. That was back in the day when sheer megatonnage made up for lack of accuracy.

The number of warheads in the Minuteman III ICBMs was recently reduced to one apiece, in accordance with a treaty with Russia (either START II or the Treaty of Moscow, but since Congress and the Russian Duma are so slow to ratify these treaties, I'm not sure which one is being observed in this case).

Allison said...

Excellent travel report on the missile silo. I may go there one of these days. Did you make it to Tumacacori while you were down south? It's an old, very interesting mission.
Has anyone mentioned Kartchner Caverns? You have to make an appointment to go through them, but it's a living cave and is supposed to be pretty cool. It can be done as a (long) day trip.

Roxanne said...

Allison, we didn't go to Tumacacori (I just heard of it right now!). I didn't know you needed reservations for Kartchner, either - good to know.

Interesting, Rob. So, there are only three now?

HAHA Sue! That's a blast.

CJ, I would say it's still quaint.

Karen, the experience was more visceral than I predicted.

Sharon, I can imagine. My problem was the open stairs.

Bob, you are a master of efficiency. Like Kim's dad (that wasn't a joke, I swear, Kim!).

Gaelyn, it was evocative.

Jo, I'm so sorry! I went back and found your message buried in my inbox. I texted (do you text?)

BEAD STORES??? I'm either grief-stricken or relieved that I didn't see them. No, I'm grief-stricken. Annie is relieved. We didn't stay long in Patagonia or Sonoita, so I didn't get a feel for the towns, but the approach was pretty. Still, we were glad to get back to TUCSON. :D

Thanks, Karen! Ducks like the advantage of surprise.

Roxanne said...

Pat, they were a little different. Tubac is cute.

It's a dirty job Chuck and I had, Lynne, but someone had to destroy Earth.

Joke? What joke? [tee hee]

Suzanne said...

You look like "Moneypenny" in that chair. LOL!

The Good Luck Duck said...

Haha Suzanne! Are you sure you don't mean M?

Cherie said...

I so miss the west and exploring areas around there!! The missile experience seems pretty 'rad' :)

Did you get down to Nogales, as shown on your map? That's where our bus served is service life in the 60s/70s - we totally need to take her back there in her RV-fied glory.

Brenda A. said...

We never made it to the Titan Missile Museum during our six years in Tucson. Just never got around to it. Should we just turn around and go back to see it??? Nah....will add it to our to-do list for next year when we come back through what will always be home to us. :)

Roxanne said...

Cherie, we did go to Nogales, or through it on the run. We had an ambitious tour guide! I love the idea that a vehicle as old as I am is still queen of the road. And, HIGH FIVE on the "rad" reference!

Brenda, you almost had a chance to stay for a visit! It's better that you move on, though.

Theresa Kim said...

I think maybe Annie might have done something crazy with our planet over the last two days. Did something just shake???

Anonymous said...

Oh very cooool...THEY LET YOU TOUCH THE CONTROLS....ahahahaha (think count Dracula laugh here). Must do this ourselves.

Roxanne said...

Think nothing of it, Terri. Please move quickly and calmly to your fallout shelter. What?

Nina, I was thinking Dr. Strangelove.

bhikkhu john said...

You wrote, " can ring the doorbell...." I'm going to have to steal that.

Really miss you guys!

The Good Luck Duck said...

We miss you, too, John, and you frequently frequent our conversations. I'll send you a picture of the last time that happened.