Home sweet silo

Posted on February 23, 2005 
Filed Under Uncategorized

The sky is falling. Time to take cover. In an age when Fear and Constant Vigilance is the order of the day, it does not seem strange that some Americans have gone underground, deep underground.

NWFusion had a story about how couple, Charlene and Don Zwonitzer, has reclaimed a 1960s-era Atlas E Missile Silo and made it home. Yes, you read right, that’s silo as in place to store and launch nuclear Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles.

The Zwonitzers not only live in one, they are now planning to fill their 15,000 sq ft bunker with racks of computers to “provide a safe digital haven for everyone from Fortune 500 companies to family businesses looking to secure their data as part of disaster-recovery or business-continuity plans.”

[It sounds familiar. My friend Dinesh, who unfortunately has discontinued his blog once pointed me to a Wired story about plans by a company called HavenCo to turn Sealand, a military fortress six miles off the shores of Britain, into a similar “safe data haven”. I wonder how they are doing.]

Missile silos were built back in the 1960s to house nuclear ICBMs, such as Atlas-E, Atlas-F, and Titan 1 and could withstand the very nuclear attack they propagated. Now decommissioned, they have become intriguing real estate properties. One site even sells them as “castles of the 20th century” from a US$85,000 Titan II site in Arkansas [“Silo imploded and entire facility buried. Uncover a piece of history; a great adventure.”] to a US$1.45m Titan I site in Denver [“Very rare – 1 of only 18 built. Massive 45,000+ sq ft of underground floor-space”].

Don Zwonitzer calls their place an “epitome of physical security”. It should be with its two-foot-thick cement walls and ceilings constructed with 139,000 cubic yards of reinforced concrete and 27,840 tons of structural steel.

His place is secured with a nine-foot barbed-wire-topped compound fence and steel blast doors and is “far away from major metropolitan populations and military targets.”

The bunker, commissioned in 1962 and shuttered in 1965, has been a labor of love for the couple, who purchased it from a salvage company for $40,000 in 1996. In 2002, their daughter Janelle rode into the missile bay in a horse-drawn carriage and was married in front of 100 guests.

NW Fusion found out that “cyber access to the place is abundant as the nearby Sprint SONET ring can provide 72 strands of fiber, allowing anything from OC-3 to OC-192 connections or even a direct link to the ring.”


You can see how another silo dream house looks here and read another story here or here.


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