Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Eastward, Ho! Day 4: Touring an Atlas F Missile Silo and Czech'ing out a large egg.

 We displaced from the Kansas Veterans Campground before 8AM today and drove east along the I-70 Super Slab for a few hours to the vicinity of Wilson, Kansas.

We're staying at a Harvest Host camping location, just outside of town, right next to the doors of a decommissioned Atlas model F missile silo.  We met up with Matthew Fulkerson, the owner and founder of Atlas Ad Astra.  He's also got quite the resume: Missile Base Owner,  World Traveler,  Adventure Seeker, Dog Lover,  Action Sports Enthusiast,  Bunker Hunter, and American Ninja Warrior.

His website with much better pictures of his plans and historical photos and diagrams is here: LINK 

To give you some context, here's a drawing of the complex underground, we would be touring the Control Center and then take the short access tunnel to the actual missile silo.  The tour is mainly the control complex on the left of the tall silo.

image source: atlas ad astra

The Silo Door

Martha and Matthew's dog, Buddy, standing on the doors
of the missile silo.

The escape hatch from the underground Control Center

Looking down the escape shaft to the inner door

What remains of the multi-ton access doors into
the control center

This is what you see as you move past the two access doors, the top half of the control center:

Pano of the upper half of the control center:

The access door for the escape hatch

The lower half of the control center, where the control systems were located,
where the Missileers stood their watches during the Cold War

Matthew showing us the two man control system to the control
codes for missile launches.  Remember this was 1959-64.

The access tunnel to the missile silo

Looking down into the Missile Silo, that's water down there

Looking up at the bottom of the silo doors, when it was operational, 
there'd be an elevator to raise the Atlas F missile above ground
prior to it being launched.

Standing at the remains of the missile control console that
Matthew hopes to someday restore to working condition.

Martha standing at the access door to the control center.

Here's a picture of our campsite:

Prior to our tour, we had gone into the nearby town of Wilson to "Czech" out the sights and the worlds largest Czech Egg.  Wilson is apparently the Czech capital of Kansas and holds a festival during July celebrating the Czech heritage of the town.

Pretty big egg isn't it?  Here's pictures of the information plaques:

Scattered about the downtown area of Wilson, we found several more eggs, these much smaller but still quite nicely decorated.  Following pics taken by Martha.

There were several historical looking buildings in the Wilson downtown area, a little bit of quick research online produced this old photo of the landmark hotel associated with rail travel back in the town's heyday:

The Midland Hotel then...
image source: link

and now.

We had "Fruit of the Forest" pie at Grandma's Soda Shop and I noticed this old time drawing of a nearby building:

Sadly, the building is water-damaged and in extreme disrepair, though the town is trying to fix it up.

We returned to camp and soon got the personal tour by Matthew, a man of big vision and quite ambitious goals I must say.  Still, he's working on something he loves and can, at the end of the day, show the fruits of his efforts.  Not many can say that eh?

If you're ever seeking an overnight camping spot near Wilson, KS, I strongly recommend you go to Harvest Host and book a night here!  The tour is outstanding, the location is very nice and quiet. Two other campers showed up to take their tours, a huge TT and a regular sized Truck Camper.  There's space for five rigs, in a nice grassy area.  

Check out Matthew's website: Atlas Ad Astra for way more pics and details!


SonjaM said...

I dig the egg art, didn't know it was of Czech origin though.

The Silo looks interesting and intimidating. Was the water down there on purpose?

redlegsrides said...

Under provisions of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, SonjaM, decommissioned silos would have their silo doors left open and water filling the bottom part of the silo so that Russian satellites could see the reflection from overhead and confirm that silo had indeed been decommissioned. When it was decommissioned, a lot of equipment was removed to improve the pump that kept things dry so I imagine some water has leaked them from the water table and so on over the last 57 years or so.