Quantcast

Hidden in the woods.

The Rocketry Forum

Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

1974_Trident

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2009
Messages
176
Reaction score
0
No, this is not a thread about Tiger and Elin.

My seven year old son recently learned about the Appalachian Trail in school. For those of you who don't know, The Appalachian Trail is a trail blazed through the woods which runs from Maine to Georgia and is managed by the National Park Service. My son wanted to go hiking on this trail which a portion of runs just fifteen miles from hour house. How could I say no? Part of my pre-hike planning meant finding topo maps which I could print and bring along. I found topo maps covering the entire route of the trail with the trail marked in red. While I searched the section we planned on hiking this past weekend A particular feature caught my attention. A lake in the middle of the woods called Nuclear Lake.

I remember hearing bits and pieces of tales about Nuclear Lake when I was a paramedic working in the Pawling/Beekman, NY area 8-10 years ago. Most of the stories were far fetched tales about a clandestine plutonium enrichment facility or a lost atomic bomb ala Tybee Island. Considering the sources I believed none of what I heard. When I was looking at a prospective home to purchase in that area a year and a half ago I found Nuclear Lake on Google Earth and my curiosity was briefly piqued. I zoomed in but there seemed to be nothing interesting, just a lake in the middle of the woods. No buildings or areas blurred out as you would find at a nuclear power plant. I got back to the task at hand, scrutinizing the neighborhood surrounding the house my wife had fallen in love with earlier that week.

While we were hiking this past weekend, The trails were all marked by reference to Nuclear Lake. The whole time we were in the woods I couldn't get the thought out of my head, "Why would a lake in the middle of virgin woodland be called Nuclear Lake?" I took a look at the topo map and noticed that there are small buildings and an unpaved road shown near the lake. Maybe houses, maybe some sort of clandestine uranium enrichment facility. The former seemed unlikely owing to the land's ownership, The United States Department of The Interior which itself gives credence to the latter in a black helicopter/tinfoil hat sort of way. When we finally got to the lake The first thing I noticed was that the service road to the lake is brand new. while unpaved, the surface was smooth without ruts or any vegetation growing on it and the banks had that freshly graded look. The drain pipes carrying streams under the road are that modern black poly storm drain pipe. The dam at the south end of the lake was also very new looking which raised another question; Why would somebody build an artificial lake in the middle of the woods like this? Water supply is the obvious answer but this dam is no more than two or three years old which means it was rebuilt which means it has been there a very long time, much longer than the surrounding civilization has needed a surface water source. I would venture that the surrounding area is still sparsely populated enough to use wells. Was this a cooling lagoon for a nuclear facility? I looked around for any signs restricting access, none. I looked for the buildings, none. No DOD or radioactive signs anywhere. Just very freshly graded clear areas where the buildings are marked on the topo map. It was getting dark fast and the light snow was quickly turning to rain, it was time to head back to the car. The whole trip home I was really curious about the origins of the name of Nuclear Lake. All evidence suggested a former nuclear facility of some sorts. I was starting to worry myself with these conspiracy theory-ish ideas.

While I was waiting for the day's pictures to upload I Googled Nuclear Lake and found this site. This seemed to explain everything. Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. I also found out that the lake is in fact a reservoir for the local towns. I found a few references suggesting that the lake bottom was never adequately cleaned/inspected after the explosion in the early 1970s scattered plutonium dust in the area. This could certainly explain some of the people I met and treated in that area during the two years I worked there. Until now I though it was just a concentration of recessive genes.

Right to left below: Topo Map, My sons and I Walking from the dam to the island, My sons and I on the Island. At this point the rain was too hard to keep a digital camera out for pictures.

Topo Map - Appalachian Trail.jpg


Nuclear Lake 1.jpg


Nuclear Lake 2.jpg
 

Fred22

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2009
Messages
2,458
Reaction score
3
Did you notice an odd glow in the room when you tried to sleep that night:) Truth can be stranger then fiction. The cold war like every war leaves its detritus around. For example there are lots of old NIke missile sites aound cities in the states. Thirty kilometers south of my city I found bits and pieces of a helicopter sticking out of a hill in the woods. Turns out there was a radar base there that got plowed under in 1964 along with all the equipment used to service it like the helicopters.
Cheers
fred
 

MarkII

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
8,212
Reaction score
9
There are a number of decommissioned Atlas missile silos scattered around the eastern Adirondacks, mostly within a certain radius of the former SAC/Air Force base in Plattsburgh. Their exact locations are not publicized and most folks around here are only vaguely aware of them. About 10 years ago our local PBS station had a show about a fellow who had actually purchased one site and had spent 4 years and over 2 million dollars renovating it and turning it into a residential property. It was absolutely fascinating. The show did not reveal the exact location of the house, either. But you drive in on a gated road and wind your way up a low hill and park just below a small house at the top. You walk up some steps and enter the house, which looks like a typical modest summer house, fully furnished and everything. The owner takes you down a hallway in the back of the house, and then you descend two flights of stairs. At the bottom you come face to face with a pair of massive and stupendously thick steel doors. That's when you realize that this is no ordinary cabin in the woods.... :D

They advise you to bring along a pair of fresh underwear to change into after you see those doors swing open. :jaw:

MarkII
 
Last edited:

MarkII

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
8,212
Reaction score
9
I remember so many details from the show because the station repeated it at least six times over the next few years, and I watched it every time because it was so utterly fascinating.

The SYP moment occurs not because what is on the other side is so terrifying; in fact, it is the hardened underground bunker where the crew that operated the site and launched the Atlas lived and worked. This is what the owner had converted into living space. It is down there that he actually lived, not up in the little summer house above it. But what happens when you innocently and nonchalantly go down there for the first time and then suddenly face those doors is the jarring realization that you are looking at a true Doomsday site: one of the places where the technology that would have initiated the end the world in a flash was to have been unleashed, the machinery of Armageddon. As the host of the show mentioned, the realization knocks the pins right out from under you and makes you drop to your knees.

The show then took a quick tour through the four floors, all underground, of the "house" while the owner discussed the condition when he bought it and some of the difficulties he had in renovating it and converting it into a modern home. The entire Adirondack region is solid granite, and the Air Force had to blast out a 10-story deep hole in it to construct this and the other sites. When they decommissioned it, they uncapped the well that was the water source for the facility, causing the entire site to fill with ground water. The owner said that it took two years to pump it all out, which he had to do before he could even start with the renovation. He also mentioned other details such as the enormous difficulty in creating spaces through which to pull cable and install electrical service, which required drilling through the walls and floors of a hardened military installation.

The show finished with the grand finale. The owner led them through to the rear of his home and opened another set of massive doors. On the other side was the cavernous missile silo itself. It was another SYP moment. Going through the door, you walked out onto a catwalk on the side of this enormous 10-story deep hole that seemed like it was large enough to contain an entire office building. There were several levels of catwalks that connected to each other by stairs. Of course the Atlas and the launch infrastructure were gone, but the sliding silo cover was still there, and it still worked, as the owner demonstrated. It was oddly comforting to live in a place that was designed to survive a direct hit from a nuclear strike, which this site surely would have suffered if World War III had ever happened. The owner said that the silo now provides an excellent wine cellar. :D

MarkII
 
Last edited:

dixontj93060

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2009
Messages
12,882
Reaction score
19
I know it's early, but this gets my vote for "Most Interesting Thread of 2010."
 

dragon_rider10

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 10, 2009
Messages
699
Reaction score
0
:eyepop:I've heard about Survival Retreats but this takes the cake.

I bet you could send up some B6-4s in that silo.
 
Last edited:

luke strawwalker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
9,139
Reaction score
14
I remember so many details from the show because the station repeated it at least six times over the next few years, and I watched it every time because it was so utterly fascinating.

The SYP moment occurs not because what is on the other side is so terrifying; in fact, it is the hardened underground bunker where the crew that operated the site and launched the Atlas lived and worked. This is what the owner had converted into living space. It is down there that he actually lived, not up in the little summer house above it. But what happens when you innocently and nonchalantly go down there for the first time and then suddenly face those doors is the jarring realization that you are looking at a true Doomsday site: one of the places where the technology that would have initiated the end the world in a flash was to have been unleashed, the machinery of Armageddon. As the host of the show mentioned, the realization knocks the pins right out from under you and makes you drop to your knees.

The show then took a quick tour through the four floors, all underground, of the "house" while the owner discussed the condition when he bought it and some of the difficulties he had in renovating it and converting it into a modern home. The entire Adirondack region is solid granite, and the Air Force had to blast out a 10-story deep hole in it to construct this and the other sites. When they decommissioned it, they uncapped the well that was the water source for the facility, causing the entire site to fill with ground water. The owner said that it took two years to pump it all out, which he had to do before he could even start with the renovation. He also mentioned other details such as the enormous difficulty in creating spaces through which to pull cable and install electrical service, which required drilling through the walls and floors of a hardened military installation.

The show finished with the grand finale. The owner led them through to the rear of his home and opened another set of massive doors. On the other side was the cavernous missile silo itself. It was another SYP moment. Going through the door, you walked out onto a catwalk on the side of this enormous 10-story deep hole that seemed like it was large enough to contain an entire office building. There were several levels of catwalks that connected to each other by stairs. Of course the Atlas and the launch infrastructure were gone, but the sliding silo cover was still there, and it still worked, as the owner demonstrated. It was oddly comforting to live in a place that was designed to survive a direct hit from a nuclear strike, which this site surely would have suffered if World War III had ever happened. The owner said that the silo now provides an excellent wine cellar. :D

MarkII
If you're ever in South Dakota, near Rapid City (actually Wall, SD) be sure you visit the Minuteman missile museum... they give guided tours of the missile launch control complex, including a trip down the elevator to the 'capsule'-- the two man underground missile launch control center, behind one of those four foot thick iron doors... actually suspended on springs inside a solid concrete bunker behind that door, so when an H-bomb goes off nearby the missileers wouldn't get too banged up from the ground shock. About 10 miles up the road, just off the freeway and about 1/2 mile inside a ranch is the missile silo-- they slid the four foot thick concrete silo door back and installed a glass cover over it. You can lean out and about four feet below the glass is the tip of the Minuteman I ICBM-- it's a training version (inert) but identical to the real thing. You can see all the way to the bottom of the hole 90 feet below. They also have some of the "nuclear Ramchargers" that the AF guys used to have to take out to the silos when conducting repairs and security checks. They were basically Dodge Ram Charger SUV's with an armored body of bulletproof glass and steel mounted on them.

The headquarters is next to the service station at the exit for the East entrance to Badlands National Monument. Badlands is a VERY cool drive/hike BTW...

Later! OL JR :)
 

Fred22

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2009
Messages
2,458
Reaction score
3
Ya there's a Titan silo I think somewhere you can tour. In San Francisco they have a nike base open to the public. If you get up to Canada the old government bunker at Carp is open to the public. Pretty chilling to walk through and fascinating. I was talking to a guy who was in on some BDF exercises there during the cold war. Said they did a crowd control thing as if the government was going there in the event of the bomb. Some of the mock crowd threw dolls over the fence saying"Save our baby". The BDF threw them back over the fence. Thought was funny till they were told well done as this would be SOP in case of the real thing. Grim stuff indeed.
Cheers
Fred
 

MarkII

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
8,212
Reaction score
9
The thing about both Nuclear Lake and the Atlas Missile Silo home is that in both cases, the sites are in peaceful, bucolic settings that provide no visible clue about what is really there. The Nuclear Lake site is by far the more sinister of the two, because the facts there have been hidden or removed in order to protect the guilty. The location of the Atlas Missile Silo home, on the other hand, is not publicized in order to protect the privacy of the owner and to keep out the casually curious. The locations of the other abandoned silos are also not made public presumably because they are structurally hazardous. But in both cases, the visitor is simply not prepared when the true nature of each site is discovered. In the other examples that have been mentioned, there may also be a jarring disconnect between the appearance of the site vs. what each one actually contains, but at least visitors go to them precisely because they know what is there.

The Missile Silo home is unique and a curiosity; Nuclear Lake, though, is something else entirely. In a certain way, one could even view it as a crime scene. For all of its devastating potential, the former Atlas missile silo never actually harmed anyone, and what was once a might weapon of war has been successfully converted to peaceful purposes. Nuclear Lake, on the other hand, did known and unknown harm to the unsuspecting civilian population that resided in the area at the time, and the full story of what happened there has never been revealed to the public.

MarkII
 
Last edited:

luke strawwalker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
9,139
Reaction score
14
Ya there's a Titan silo I think somewhere you can tour. In San Francisco they have a nike base open to the public. If you get up to Canada the old government bunker at Carp is open to the public. Pretty chilling to walk through and fascinating. I was talking to a guy who was in on some BDF exercises there during the cold war. Said they did a crowd control thing as if the government was going there in the event of the bomb. Some of the mock crowd threw dolls over the fence saying"Save our baby". The BDF threw them back over the fence. Thought was funny till they were told well done as this would be SOP in case of the real thing. Grim stuff indeed.
Cheers
Fred
You're referring to the Titan Missile Museum near Yuma, Arizona, IIRC... You can google it for the exact location. It's in SE AZ though. That's where they filmed the "Phoenix" warp ship launcher silo in Star Trek: First Contact.

I want to go to that one too... you can actually tour the control center and the silo, since the Titan II missile silos were SO huge compared to the much smaller Minuteman missiles.

Later! OL JR :)
 

luke strawwalker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
9,139
Reaction score
14
The thing about both Nuclear Lake and the Atlas Missile Silo home is that in both cases, the sites are in peaceful, bucolic settings that provide no visible clue about what is really there. The Nuclear Lake site is by far the more sinister of the two, because the facts there have been hidden or removed in order to protect the guilty. The location of the Atlas Missile Silo home, on the other hand, is not publicized in order to protect the privacy of the owner and to keep out the casually curious. The locations of the other abandoned silos are also not made public presumably because they are structurally hazardous. But in both cases, the visitor is simply not prepared when the true nature of each site is discovered. In the other examples that have been mentioned, there may also be a jarring disconnect between the appearance of the site vs. what each one actually contains, but at least visitors go to them precisely because they know what is there.

The Missile Silo home is unique and a curiosity; Nuclear Lake, though, is something else entirely. In a certain way, one could even view it as a crime scene. For all of its devastating potential, the former Atlas missile silo never actually harmed anyone, and what was once a might weapon of war has been successfully converted to peaceful purposes. Nuclear Lake, on the other hand, did known and unknown harm to the unsuspecting civilian population that resided in the area at the time, and the full story of what happened there has never been revealed to the public.

MarkII
There's a LOT of that sort of thing... FAR more than most folks realize...

There was an atomic bomb that fell out of a B-47 over South Carolina and blew up (the TNT detonation charges-- the bomb was 'safed' at the time) and practically demolished the house and family car, and left a 50 foot wide 10 foot deep crater a little ways behind the house in the woods. Luckily nobody was killed. A BIG hydrogen bomb (one of the early ones like the one used on the Cherokee test shot) fell out of a B-36 bomber coming into Albuquerque and exploded on impact, killing a cow. It was one of the big 38,000 pound depleted uranium radiation-casing bombs. A newer model high-megaton hydrogen bomb fell out of another bomber over North Carolina. It's drogue chute deployed and it landed intact, partially hung up in a tree in a cotton field. It was found that 5 of the 6 bomb safing interlocks had failed during the descent and the ONE remaining interlock prevented the bomb from detonating in a thermonuclear blast, which would have destroyed most of the eastern half of North Carolina. Other atomic/hydrogen bombs have fallen out over Detroit, California, Maryland, Washington state, the Yukon, Greenland, and Spain, and many more have been permanently lost in the ocean, near Vietnam, in the Atlantic, and the Pacific. Incidents related to nuclear weapons are known as "broken arrows" and our library has an interesting book (put out by Greenpeace IIRC) listing them all, though I'm sure you can find a TON of them on google.

There's been a lot of non-nuclear weapon related radiation incidents as well. Some of the first incidents took place in the development of the atomic bomb, when workers and scientists were accidentally irradiated in a criticality test and some died. I read of an incident in which waste and plutonium were being seperated in a vat which was being agitated by a motor/paddles. Evidently the motor/paddles failed, allowing the radioactive particles suspended in the fluid to settle to the bottom of the tank, and when enough had accumulated, it formed a critical mass that then released a sudden burst of intense radiation, that killed (and/or nearly killed) some workers.

I also read a disturbing and quite angering book a year or two ago about the secret radiation exposure tests that the government did on unsuspecting civilian populations in the United States during the Cold War. It started with early radiation experiments, using human 'guinea pigs' in cancer research 'treatments' many of which had horrific side-effects (neutron radiation in particular) These experiments progressed to the point of injecting otherwise healthy people who had accidents or needed health care with radioactive isotopes, plutonium, and other such sources to determine the long-term health effects, including feeding plutonium mixed with oatmeal to orphans in Massachusetts and giving radioactive isotope cocktail 'fizzes' to pregnant women coming in for care at Vanderbilt University hospital in Nashville, among many other places. I can't recall the name of the book at the moment, but it was a VERY enlightening read!

Later! OL JR :)
 

BAR_Daddy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
403
Reaction score
0
About ten or so years ago a couple of fellas purchased a silo not for from my brother's house. They were going to set up some kind of manufacturing facility. After many months of gutting and renovating he and his partner were arrested. Seems that they were manufacturing meth. Go figure.
 

hedgie6

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2009
Messages
50
Reaction score
0
The Titan missile museum is just south of Tucson Arizona. I have been on the tour once but they have several different tour available, the one I really want to go on takes you from the bottom of the silo through each level. There were a total of 18 silos around Tucson, several are on public land but most are now private property. The last I heard, one site was for sale just southeast of Tucson, right off I-10. I have some pictures of the sites I took my sons to, I'll post them when I get home later.
 
Top