For Sale: A Blast From The Past That’s Built To Last
By Barney McCoy, UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communication
June 21, 2022, 5 a.m. ·
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As Nebraska homes go, this one is unique and it’s for sale. It’s a former nuclear missile site that’s been converted into an underground home near York, Nebraska. It was originally built by the U.S. government at the height of the Cold War era.
The only sign that there may be a house for sale as you walk through this field west of York is a concrete pad.
"From up here, it's pretty inauspicious," said realtor Mike Figueroa.
One-hundred feet away, a concrete doorway the size of a telephone booth juts from the field.
"This is an amazing piece of history," said realtor Polly Figueroa.
This is Mike and Polly Figueroa’s latest listing: A 25-hundred square foot underground home. Seventy-years ago it was an Atlas-F nuclear missile launch site built at a cost of 18-million dollars.
The asking price on the unusual home is $550,000.
The home’s seller wants to remain anonymous.
"The first year and a half was me working on it." the seller said.
The seller says he began refurbishing this Atlas site more than 20-years ago after reports that a software bug might crash computers around the world.
"So we were going to fix it up and eventually retire there."
Now living in another state, the owner says his underground home is ideal for a special kind of buyer.
"Somebody that wants to be more self-sufficient," he said. "Where you're not out getting blown away and you don't have to worry about the weather."
Atlas missile sites were built in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Back then, America was in a nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union. Atomic bomb drills were as common as fire drills in most American schools.
Cold War historian Rob Branting, a native of Lincoln, is supervisor of North Dakota’s Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Historic Site.
"Basically when Atlas missiles came along it was this brand new science that the Air Force really took and ran with to supplement their bomber force," Branting said.
Branting says the former Lincoln Air Force Base commanded 12 Atlas Missile sites in Nebraska.
"Lincoln had some of the first missile silos ever built in the United States. Just massive structures. Right in the middle of the Cold War. Some of the hottest times in the Cold War."
Thirty-feet underground we pass through the first of five steel doors built to protect the Air Force launch team from nuclear attack.
"Four or five-inch-thick steel door. At the thickest point it looks like it’s probably close to a foot.," Mike Figueroa said.
The doors open into the two-story living area that used to be the missile site’s command and control center.
"They've got two wells to fill up four 500 gallon water tanks," Mike Figueroa said. "So they've got hot and cold running water, and they've got an electric furnace as well as a wood burning stove. They have, really, I mean, all the basics that you would need."
Through three more blast doors is the massive Atlas silo itself, now mostly filled with water.
The steel framework within the silo equals the height of an 18 story building and weighed about 1,500 tons.
The Atlas-F nuclear missile could be ready for launch in 15 minutes.
Eighty-year-old Dan Duffy of Lincoln was a technician on one of the Air Force launch crews that manned the Atlas sites at the height of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.
"Most of the whole time I was here I was in a missile silo," Duffy said.
President John F. Kennedy ordered a naval blockade of Cuba and placed the U.S. military on high alert after learning Russia was building nuclear launch sites on Cuba.
"The launch crews did not know if we were going to have to go to war," Duffy said.
Duffy called home to tell his family what to do if the Soviets launched nuclear missiles.
"If I were you, if you heard there was warheads coming our way. I would go out and watch it. Because you aren’t going to live after it.”
The Cuban nuclear crisis was averted when the Soviet Union backed down and dismantled its missile sites. One of America’s deterrents were the Atlas missile sites in Nebraska.
In 1965, the billion-dollar Atlas-F missile program was replaced by more dependable, less expensive Minuteman missiles.
Several former Atlas sites have been converted into private homes by buyers interested in something different to live in. One’s for sale near York.
"The history alone is overwhelming," said Polly Figueroa. "The condition is incredible. The fact that they are able to live here is amazing."
If you are interested in more info on the missile silo, click here for the sale listing.
VIDEO: Drone video shows the exterior and interior of the missile silo home: (Video Credit: Purple Sky Productions, Inc.)
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