posted on Jan, 24 2010 @ 04:20 PM
During the height of the “Cold War” in the early 1950’s and well into the
early 1970’s the United States stockpiled Nuclear Weapons at 13 or more sites around the country. One of those stockpiling sites still exists today
but is largely abandoned. Clarksville Base in Kentucky was one of the most secretive and guarded places in America at this time.
Pillboxes scattered around the area known as the “Birdcage”, still exist today, and many marines spent time in them guarding our nation’s
nuclear stockpile. The DoD operated this facility and conducted maintenance work on Atomic Warheads as part of the Armed Forces Special Weapons
Project. The Clarksville Base was one of the first six such sites to exist.
The Sandia Corporation was contracted to perform the work and sadly many of the civilians that worked here developed cancers and suffered later in
life, as a result of their work. Many buildings at this site extend deep underground and tunnels extend deep into the area’s natural hillsides with
blast proof doors and vaults designed to keep the secrets safe. One building known as “Gravel Gertie” was designed to contain the energy of a
1-kiloton explosion if a worker accidentally detonated one of the devices. Chain-link fences separated the public from this facility, one charged with
high voltage around the inside of the cone shaped facility.
Each complex consisted of an assemblage of vaults and side rooms along a 600-foot corridor that was protected from above by 10 feet of reinforced
concrete and 40 feet of earth. They used these subterranean shafts as communications centers, civil defense hospital wings, and nuclear warhead
storage areas. They also conducted communications activities in a formidable, 2-story, concrete-hardened false-windowed structure.
Other buildings at the Center housed communications and support services. Working with the nuclear warheads the civilians dismantled the bombs and
monitored the radioactivity of the material, and replaced short-lived initiators so they could be returned to the nation’s arsenal. In 1960 an
accident at the facility involved 5 rail cars loaded with Mark-31 nuclear warheads which broke loose and rolled down a grade and slammed in to a
bumper. One car derailed but none of the devices were damaged and Naval and Army officials decided against a press release.
In the middle 60’s duties involving nuclear devices were transferred elsewhere but the facility continued to be used for storage of classified
material. Eventually the facility was closed altogether due to a build-up of radon gases in the underground complexes, and the Fort Campbell facility
took charge of the area and used the above ground tunnels for storage of various equipment. Recently the DoE has discovered radio isotope
contamination in several areas. The facility is no longer used for nuclear weapons activity and pretty much has been abandoned.
The area while not open to the general public is open to Army personnel and their escorted guest. Large steel roll-up security doors hang from the two
bridges on either side of the Base, ready to drop down onto the bed of Little West Fork Creek and prevent access to intruders. The main hoist for
loading and unloading nuclear weapons at the railroad spur also still exists. I recently explored the area and must say the place is spooky at night.
Very quiet and quite deserted but as I thought it was an interesting part of our history and draws parallels to “Area 51” “Dulce Base” and
other secret spots I thought I would share some pictures of my explorations. Imagine the secrets we once held here and the secrets we now hold
Links to explore: