Weird. Cool. But weird. The headline is exactly where I went today. It wasn’t the only place I went – in fact – I just happened to find it because the first place I visited – which really deserves to be written about (Biosphere 2) only was a couple of hours of a tour and I had time to spend on something else and I googled “What to do in Tucson” and I found out that the Titan Nuclear Missile Museum was nearby and so I figured that sounded interesting. The writeup said that it was on the site of one of the decommissioned Nuclear Missiles from the cold war and I found that pretty intriguing.
Well that’s exactly what this is. They turned the actual silo – with the nuclear missile – into a museum. Sure, we’ve all been to museums where they use the original building but have to recreate aspects – or – the type where in a museum they try to rebuild x,y or z and then they populate it with artifacts. Not the case here. When the U.S. government signed the treaty to destroy a large number of our ICBM’s they literally imploded most of them (removing the actual warheads from the missiles) but – they asked Tucson if Tucson wanted to maintain this one as a museum – and Tucson said yes.
So you actually go down 55 flights of stairs, into a steel reinforced, 8 foot thick fortified concrete bunker where all of the pipes are floated on springs to withstand shock and the entire control room is floated on springs and they tell you how the life of the 4 people who were in that bunker waiting to get an order to end the world lived their lives and none of it has been rebuilt or redone aside from 3 things a) they covered the consoles with clear plastic b) they put in carpet and some sound baffles to help be able to hear the tour and c) removed the bomb from the missile. Here’s what I saw:
To wax on this – it’s really something that I had to do to turn off the reality of where I was and what this really was. There was an intro movie where they talked about the Cold War and they talked about these missiles. The missile I went to see – in person – that I sat in the chair of the console – it had a bomb in the nose which was 360 times more powerful than the bomb that flattened Hiroshimi. I sat in the seat of the commander and they had me turn the key as part of the tour (I volunteered – of course) – but I got chills when I did it. A lot of people reading this might not have had the experience of being a child and constantly being told about “Mutually Assured Destruction” of the Cold War and the fact that both the U.S. and Russia had enough bombs to destroy the planet but that was the fact that was supposed to actually be keeping us safe – now to be looking at that concept from the very front seat and seeing how real it actually was. Kind of makes it pretty pathetic of how much fear the entire world has allowed itself to be taken completely hostage by the real – but infinitely less significant threat of extreme terrorism. I don’t care how you view that last statement – the bottom line is that the true destructive threat was so much greater and we didn’t allow it to completely change or lives
So crazy – interested to hear other people’s comments on where you were during the cold war in life (age, geography, etc) and how it affected you – or – if you’ve never even really heard much about it before and the words “Duck and Cover” have never applied to your life!
I’m really a little too spent by the unexpected experience to say much else – but – I’m glad I went. Next entry will be more fun though