It was full dark by the time we arrived back at the access road for the Atlas D base which is about 2 miles long. Thinking we'd have to "loosen" security a bit before we could get in we killed the headlights as soon as we were out of site. I was riding in the bitch seat at this point having lost the "shotgun" contest on the way back to the car to "Stretch". It was a bit spooky and Sub-Commander Big E was really cruising, from my vantage point in the back seat I couldn't see shit. We knew that somewhere a couple miles down the road was a barbed wire fence.
Lo and behold when we got there the gate was open! It had only been a couple hours since last we were there. This was a bit creepy. We spent quite a few minutes scanning the base with binoculars looking to see if there were other visitors present. It was dead calm, no sound, no lights. We decided to head in.
We got about 100 yards down the road and someone had planted big wooden pillars right in the middle of the road, someone else had been kind enough to cut a path around them - up we went to the base.
The main entry gate was open, we headed right around the "loop" the road made around the base and came up to the first building.
We parked the car a couple hundred yards out from the building, geared up, smoked and headed on over.
There's a big trench that runs along the front of the building, about 8 feet deep and 60-80 feet long and 20 feet across. We went around it. There were what looked to be some garage bays on the south side of the building - also some enclosed rooms, there was some vandalism but not nearly as much as at the E site we had just been at. Some of us went into the garage area and found some stairs that led down to a room or corridor that was flooded about 4-6 inches in water.
I went in through one of the rooms and back through the door on the north end and fond the gantry room. The building was your typical metal farm building construction and we couldn't figure out what the big beams jutting of the sides of the roof were, they were actually there for the roof to slide open, they were all open, and I'm guessing we have some deal with the Russians to keep them open so they know we aren't parking missiles in there. The main room must have been 120' long and 50' wide, the remains of a rolling door on the east end and two big garage doors on the west end.
The really cool thing in the room was the gantry itself. It must have been 25' tall and after looking at it for a bit we figured it must have been what lifted the missile from horizontal into the firing position. You can see it in the pictures and to give you an idea of scale the bottom picture shows that Sub-Commander Big E is standing about 10 feet back from it, he is well over 6' tall.
When the missile was flipped up the base was suspended over the big hole in the floor and we could see out the west end doors that there was a huge trench, 200' long and 15-20 feet deep lined with concrete. So, basically, when the missile was fired the exhaust would go down the hole and be vented down the ditch. Pretty cool all in all. Agent Borland climbed the ladder on the west end of the room, not much up there.
We went out the door on the north side of the missile pen and saw there was more building on the North side, one door had been cinder blocked up and I was thinking we'd have to fetch Mr. Crowbar from the car to see what was inside, but a ways further down the wall was the remains of another rolling garage door that was wasted. The West end of this room looked to have housed generators of some sort, most everything had been stripped. The East end once had a raised floor about 4' off the concrete. All of the flooring had been removed but there were still several institutional blue equipment racks bolted to the floor supports.
There was access to a lower level but the ladder had been cut out. "Stretch" decided to take a look and climbed down in. It looked like it connected to the flooded section they had seen from the south side of the building, though he did notice a couple of dead rats floating in the water (total corpse count so far: 3) Once he clambered his way out we headed on to the next building.
The second building was identical to the first except there were a few differences. For one the ladder to access the lower floor from the generator/equipment room had not been removed. For some reason there were THOUSANDS of nails all over the floor of the missile pen. The ladder from the west end of the room had been cut down and thrown into the exhaust hole. There was also a ladder leading to the roof outside one the west end. Sub-Commander Big E took a look up there, again, not a whole lot. The other main difference, maybe the first building we saw had them but we didn't see them was the HUNDREDS of wasp's nests in the corner between the walls and the ceiling. I'm glad we went when it was cold or we could've been horribly stung.
We took a smoke break in the equipment room. Noises overhead startled us until we realized we'd disturbed some pigeons. While we were heading outside we heard a weird noise...Figured it was a cow. A quick look with the super light showed it was a BUNCH of cows. They didn't sound too happy to see us.
We decided to skip the third building we now knew was another missile pen and headed over to the command building. We noticed big depressions in the ground that could have been tunnels leading to each of the pens from the command center. We weren't able to find any access to them though.
Our first peek into the building was what appeared to be the central command room, dozens of institutional blue equipment racks, looks like someone had played dominos with them. All the stairs that led down into the room (about 4') had been cut out, we could see the whole thing so there was no point in clambering in.
Now comes the tricky bit...I don't know how to describe these things we found outside the south end of the building and we didn't get any good pictures. They were about 12' in diameter and about 4' tall, white and made of wood. They were round and all around the base we could see little flip up doors about 8" high. We flipped one up and looked inside. There was glass in a pane under the door and a dirt floor. We figure they must have been some kind of observation dome that had been removed from the roof of the building. Strange.
On the West side of the building there was a trench about 4' deep that ran the length of the building, a door led into what must have been a couple of antenna stacks, At the base they were about 10' in diameter, conical and about 12' high with a ladder leading up, they were stripped, but I'm guessing they housed big honkin radar dishes. A door from here also led into the main room. Another door on the west side led into a couple of offices and a stairwell that led down, I went around the North side of the building with "Stretch" and found an external stairway that led to the downstairs. Big E and Borland were down there, we could see there lights, they were looking at something at the bottom of the stairs.
A lovely dead cow. It must have been there a long time because there wasn't much left. We didn't disturb it at all but we did wonder how it ended up in there. Either it fell in and hurt itself. Wandered down the stairs and was too stupid to walk back up. Someone may have pushed it in (there was signs that this was a big party hangout) or Rancher Bob had decided it was easier to dump the cow corpse there than anywhere else. It remains a mystery.
Downstairs was pretty boring, little rooms, lots of wire bits, a couple holes in the floor that had some lovely "water" in them.
Someone had used the elevator shaft as a place to dump barbed wire. The pile in the shaft was 8-12' deep and filled the whole shaft. Now consider how nasty it would be to fall down the shaft from the top floor, go down about 6 feet to land in a giant pile of rusty barbed wire. Man that would suck. We snapped a quick group photo.
There was one more structure that looked worth looking at, we hiked over to it. It was probably once a vehicle maintenance shed. All the metal sheeting used for the walls had been removed so it was just a skeleton. Not too much to look at here either. We decided to head back.
On the walk back to the car I looked up. The stars were AMAZING, cloudless cold night; you could see the milky way. I know I rag on Wyoming a lot but that was a beautiful sky.
It felt like it must have been 2 or 3 in the morning. I asked what the time was... 6:00pm. We were all amazed; we'd only been on the site for about an hour. We're used to doing this kind of thing in the middle of the night so it was a bit of a shock.
On the way out we decided to pull the gate closed so livestock wouldn't wander out. Agent Borland gave me a hand hooking it back up and we decided the "shotgun" war had been going on too long and that "Stretch" did not deserve the front seat any longer. His death grip on the jesus handle kept us from being able to drag him from the front seat. We piled in and headed home.
On the way back we stopped at the Cheyenne VI - Everyone ordered chicken fried steak. I was going to, but 4 guys ordering the same thing is a little creepy so I opted for the patty melt. Semi raw fries that needed another dip in the oil, about a gallon of Dr Pepper and we were on the way home.