My husband and I were feeling the weight of the pandemic on us and hadn't seen my parents in quite a while. With the world opening up, both of us being double vaccinated, and wanting to get away from our hospital work, we decided to take a short trip down to see my parents in Tucson, Arizona, where there is sunshine and warm weather.
While there, we discovered a museum of the most unusual kind, The Titan Missile Museum. Why is it unusual? Because it's 55 steps down to an underground time capsule.
When you arrive to the coumpound, you only see a desert with a few outbuildings. the entry is through their merch store, where you pay for your 45-minute guided tour.
If you're a history lover, this museum is all about the Cold War of the mid-20th century, when threat of nuclear bombs between the U.S and Russia loomed large. It was a time when families built bomb shelters in their backyards, and the government built nuclear arms that laid in a silo 104 feet below the earth's surface. The missles were managed by the Air Force branch of the military, manned 24 hours a day, and ready to launch at any moment.
This particular museum holds the Titan II Missle, and the connected base for the men who ran the program. When you walk down into the access portal, you'll see the red metal bucket used for burning the access codes to get in and out of the control center. Further down, you walk into the blast lock area. With two sets of 3-ton steel blast doors and 3-foot concrete and steel walls, this area protected the men in case of a nuclear detonation or intruders.
The Control Center has three levels in all, although you can only tour two of them. The top tier is the living quarters for the missle crew. This is where the kitchen, bunks and toilets are for when the crew was off-duty and needed to relax. This is the level you don't get to see on tour, but you can take a virtual tour on their site to see what it looks like.
The second level is the Launch Control Center, and the most exciting part of the tour. Here, you get to experience first-hand what a mid-century command center looks like for missle launches. Two people even get to sit in the comman chairs and do a mock missle launch. In fact, my husband and I were the two people who got to sit and launch a fake missle! I sat in the chair on the left, my husband was on the right.
the third level is the Control Center that housed the communication gear, backup power and supplies, and emergency rations.
As you take the cableway over to the missle, you get to see the Titan II Missle in all its glory. Standing on end 104 feet below ground, you can peak through the windows of silos that house this missle and the launch duct.
Once you're out of the tour, you can walk the grounds and peer down from the top of the Titan II Missle that's encased in a glass screened area.
We loved this tour! We have never seen anything like it. Plus, in the museum store, you can buy anything from t-shirts, to maps, to old-school water rations...for fun, of course. We bought a cute little coffee cup.
The Titan II Missle Museum is located in Green Valley, AZ, just south of Tucson. You can find their website here.