[Note: This is a more detailed account to accompany pictures I have had online for some time. Also be warned, a few pictures are of graffiti from the early 90s and may be offensive.]
I’m sure most people have heard about, and even seen pictures of, old missile silos from the 1950s and 1960s. Some have been converted into luxury homes that look nothing like the original purpose. That is a relatively recent thing though as even in the 90s, many of the silos remained abandoned and simply locked up with chains and a large padlock. Over the years they were broken into and became a place to explore, hang out, and spray paint. Some became considerably flooded while others became dangerous through years of aging and disrepair. You can see a really nice slideshow of a similar facility via the Library of Congress.
To give you a better idea of what you are looking at in a manner that is easier to picture:
About 45 minutes East of Denver is the “Titan 1 at Byers” silo that remained open, not by design, for years. Some friend and I explored it in between 1995 or 1996, before it was closed off completely. As you can see, it wasn’t exactly sure to begin with and it remained this way for some time.
The entry tunnel took us to a big common area, a two-story dome that is featured in many pictures of the recently remodeled. Fortunately this tunnel was dry, but it also brought feelings of anxiety. We didn’t know exactly what was ahead, or who else might be in there. This was before the day of prevalent cell phones and even though we had them, there was no reception this far out and certainly none inside a concrete bunker. From the 2nd floor of the dome, a good chunk of the floor missing.
Parts of the ceiling had fallen in as well, making this a tad treacherous. The door pictured above opened to the second floor of the dome. It was also missing a bit of floor. Given that there was no emergency help anywhere near us, we went fairly slow and kept each other in sight.
Some of the old hardware that ran the extensive communication system was still present, although stripped down considerably. It still gave a good idea of how it worked to some degree and fascinated us given our early interest in technology and communications. Given the silo held three missiles and likely a small staff, this is a lot of communications equipment.
We were obviously not the first ones down here. At some point in the exploration, we heard someone else in the tunnels and that will put some fear into you. Given we had seen bullet holes down there already I didn’t even think about what sound that would make, let alone if bullets came flying our way. You can see bullet holes from two sides of the same wall.
The toilet had apparently went out with a bang.
Each tunnel to a missile silo had extensive pipes running the length. Given the nature of the facility, that is a lot of pipes for one broad hallway leading to where a missile rested.
To get to the silo at the end of one tunnel, we had to cross on of the two beams that previously supported heavy metal grate flooring (pictured below). The flooring had been ripped out and the tunnel was flooded. One of the silos was ~ 1/3rd full of water, another over half. Just looking over the edge into the water not knowing how deep it was was disconcerting. It was too dark to get a good picture; remember, this was with a conventional camera and due to the facility, the flash white-washed the image.
You can also see some of the power infrastructure that ran the facility as well as one of the water tanks and a maintenance / escape hatch.
It was an incredible night exploring that facility, even if a bit dangerous.