Belmont Club

Going underground

Admit it. You’ve always wanted one of these. Popular Mechanics says that in these uncertain times, the hardened shelter business is booming. And for those who want only the best, why not pick up this former missile silo, rated to withstand a near miss by a thermonuclear warhead?


Wired tells the story of a schoolteacher who began another career as the redeveloper of a former missile base. Mr. Peden has liberal political views and has transformed the former base into something more to his liking. “The highlight of this portion of the house is the spiritual room, formerly the missile control room. Three men manned the controls 24/7 between 1961 and 1965. Now, very deliberately, it’s filled with spiritual artifacts from all over the world.”

The Topeka base, opened in 1961, housed a gigantic Atlas E missile armed with a 4 megaton thermonuclear warhead — a weapon 200 times more powerful than the bomb that obliterated Nagasaki. By1965 it was declared outdated because it took too long to open the missile bay doors. Nearly 20 years later Peden bought the base — which had remained abandoned all that time — for $48,000.

Today, retired from teaching, Peden is one of the Midwest’s leading missile base brokers. So far, he’s sold 48 of these forsaken sites, often selling the same site more than once when new owners become overwhelmed with the commitment needed to overhaul and live in an enormous government facility. … Peden, who often gives tours of his missile base, likes to start them in the garage. Walking down the ramp to his garage door you can understand why: It’s huge.

The massive motorized bay door, which measures 18-by-20 feet and weighs more than 47 tons, gives you some idea of what lies behind it. Beautifully engineered and made from the finest steel, the door still works like a charm, even after spending years submerged under eight feet of water.

My guess is if there’s a moral in there somewhere, it’s that we expect things to work without asking why they work; and we expect to be safe in our spiritual rooms without asking where the peace comes from.

Tip Jar or Subscribe for $5