Living Underground: Abandoned Atlas Missile Silo

Josh Clark

My bookmarks toolbar menu rules. Case in point: Quigley's Cabinet. It's a long-running blog by a lady who has multiple sclerosis and appears to live in Florida. She is into all thing morbid, but is decidedly less gothic than Morbid Anatomy, and Quigley also frequently posts links to articles that are fascinating not for any morbid nature, but because they simply are. Which is how a post on Subterra, a converted missile silo in Kansas, ended up on her site. And that is how I found it. And that's the end to that lengthy intro.

I learned, then, that back in the 1980s a couple purchased an 18,000-square-foot missile silo built in the 1960s to house an Atlas E intercontinental ballistic missile, with a range of about 6,000 miles and bearing a 400 megaton nuclear warhead. It was one of those sites that was designed to wipe the Soviet Union from the map during the Cold War, similar in every respect to the sites they designed to wipe the U.S. off the map.

The site, situated on 34 acres, was a part of seven silos housed in a ring around Topeka, KS. It was built for $3.3 million, but by the late 70s was decommissioned and abandoned. When the Peden family bought it in the 1980s, they got it for a cool $40,000. Over the course of the next decade they transformed the structure into an underground home, moving into the space in 1994. Essentially they turned it into a symbol of ham-fisted irony, outfitting the home with a drum room, sweat lodge and symbolic stone circle above ground for god knows what, really. But despite the hippie bent and because of the success of their own renovation, the Pedens also founded their own real estate company specializing in abandoned or renovated Cold War missile silos and other underground military structures.

It turns out that the Pedens weren't the only ones to come up with the idea of converting missile silo into a home. Here's a link to their site and a listing of missile silos for sale; it's worth spending some time on.

And here's some neat video coverage of the Pedens and their place: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tht-Th7HnXA