10 Abandoned Nuclear Bunkers, Missile Silos & Ammunition Dumps

4. The Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex, North Dakota

Stanley-R-Mickelsen-Safeguard-Complex-abandoned (Image: Library of Congress, public domain)

Something of an outlier in this article, this flat-topped pyramid stands quite literally out in the middle of nowhere in North Dakota. There’s only a few roads leading to it, and to build it, it cost about $500 million.

Built in the 1970s, the compound was part of an anti-missile defense system called Safeguard. The “eyes” that are on the sides of the pyramid were access points that allowed the structure to scan the horizon for incoming missiles; when intruders were detected, one of the hundred-odd missiles housed at the complex would be deployed to intercept.

Stanley-R-Mickelsen-Safeguard-Complex-abandoned-2 (Image: Craftsman2001, public domain)

It sounds like a great idea, but there was a problem. The whole thing got caught up in a cluster of political debates about whether or not it was useful to keep active, if it was just prolonging the whole threat of nuclear war….

Stanley-R-Mickelsen-Safeguard-Complex-abandoned-3 (Image: Library of Congress, public domain)

Accounts vary on how long it was actually kept functional. Some say that it was active for a few months, others say that it was deactivated after less than 24 hours. What’s known for sure is that the massively expensive project had an incredibly short lifespan.

Stanley-R-Mickelsen-Safeguard-Complex-abandoned-4 (Image: Library of Congress, public domain)

The building and the property have been sold several times, and are now in private hands. In 2012, the building – including the underground community centre, chapel and gymnasium – were bought by a religious group the Spring Creek Hutterite Colony. The $530,000 investment seems like an odd one for a group with a strong anti-war sentiment…

3. Vogelsang Missile Base, Germany

Vogelsang-Missile-Base-Germany-abandoned (Image: via YouTube)

It’s sites like this one that really bring home how terrifyingly close the world has been to complete nuclear destruction.

Sitting abandoned in the East German woods is a small, unassuming, concrete pad whose blank face is broken by a metal grate. During the Cuban missile crisis, this had been the home and launch site of countless Russian missiles, constantly aimed at London and eastern England. The missiles would have been capable of hitting targets up to 1,200 km away – not close enough to be able to target the United States, but London was well within range.

Vogelsang-Missile-Base-Germany-abandoned-4 (Image: Sam Ledger via YouTube)

Built in the 1950s, there’s also an abandoned town that once stood as a home to the 15,000-odd people that once worked there. Deserted in 1994, the buildings have been left to be reclaimed by nature. Many of the structures still stand, and those who look closely will see the painted and sculpted portraits of Lenin on statues and on the walls in what was once a school. And not far from the school are the old ammunition depots the missile launch pad, and the storage bunkers for the nuclear warheads.

Vogelsang-Missile-Base-Germany-abandoned-3 (Image: via YouTube)

The entire site is an eerie mix of the domestic – with its theaters, stores, schools, offices and gymnasiums – and the military. Even when the base was operational, its remote, woodland location was a benefit – it provided cover for the military operations that were going on there. The cover was so good, in fact, that it was only in 2001 that more information was released about suspicions that there were not only of these hidden missile bunkers in the East Germany forests, but two – another in Fuerstenburg.

Roads are gone, but there are still paths that lead to the abandoned village, still nestled in the forests that were so important in keeping it from being seen by spy planes.



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