Dyess Missile Sites

Copyright © 2000-2011, Scott D. Murdock
28 Dec 2003 - Added Atlas ICBM Historical Society presentation. Added photo of Dyess Msl Site 06 and photo of Atlas ICBM Highway sign.
1 Nov 2011 - Added additional photos, upgraded existing photos.

A great benefit of membership in the Atlas ICBM Historical Society is visiting some of the Dyess Atlas F sites, courtesy of the current owners.  This Trip Report will actually cover a series of visits.  As I visit additional sites in the Dyess ring, I'll update this report.

Dyess Missile Site #12, Corinth West, TX

On 18 Mar 2000, I made the trip to Corinth West, Dyess Missile Site #12, at the owner's invitation.  The owner lives topside while he remodels the property. We observed a foundation, the communications silo, and yours truly posed on the silo doors.  One Quonset hut remains, and there is a foundation slab from a second hut.  The emergency escape hatch is intact, near the entryway. Underground, there is electricity in L1 (upper level) now.  At the blast doors, much of the reflective tape is still in place.  The owner has done lots of cleanup work in the control center in preparation for some renovation. The silo crib structure is gone, and the silo is about half full of water. So, we could look in to the silo from the access tunnel, but that's it.  We could look up at the silo doors from inside.  For effect, the owner had us stand quietly at the edge of the silo while he tossed a penny over the side into the abyss -- we could hear the penny make a buzzing sound as it picked up speed while dropping, then the small splash echoed throughout the silo.  Cool audio effect! 

This facility did have a separate water systems site, consisting of a pumping station southwest of the site on Anson North Lake.  I did not attempt a visit on this trip.

Dyess Missile Site #5, Oplin, TX

A nice surprise from the Corinth West visit on 18 Mar 2000 was an add-on visit to Dyess Missile Site #5.  This was a "While you're here, I've got to run some parts down to Oplin, so you can see that one too." kind of deal.  The owner of #5 lives in the control center, and L1 is finished and decorated very nicely.  It would pass as an artsy custom apartment to those who don't recognize the center column!  He has re-hung the floors from the ceiling mounts -- possibly the only F site with this done.  If you walk quickly toward the wall and stop suddenly, you can see the floor swaying slightly in the rattle space.  The original security gate is still in place at this site, and the silo structure is mostly intact.  We looked around on level 2 but I didn't venture up or down on those rusty old stairs (I know... what a slacker).  One of two Quonset huts remain on this site.  The emergency escape hatch is in good shape, near the entryway.  I noticed survey markers set in the concrete next to the silo doors. An interesting feature is the UHF antenna, which still has the emitter in place.

This facility did have a separate water systems annex, but I did not attempt a visit on this trip. 

Dyess Missile Site #11, Anson, TX

On 25 Mar 2000, I joined several other members of the Atlas ICBM Historical Society for Phase I of our historical survey of the Anson Atlas facility, Dyess Missile Site #11.  The site is owned by the Anson Independent School District, and we were accompanied by an AISD representative.  Our mission on this day was to assess the aboveground portion of the site; and prepare for Phase II which will be an entry (carefully planned and coordinated) of the sealed underground portion of the site. 

In general, this site has a lot of trash obscuring the silo cap.  Taking a reading through a hole in the silo doors, we found water is present in the silo 23’ below the top of the silo cap.  So much for deep exploration!   This means we should be able to get to the upper level of the Launch Control Center, but the bottom level and silo access will be under water.  The original entry door is lying next to the UHF antenna mount, not far from the concrete entry portal.  Steel plate is welded into the door frame, and the original light fixture is in place above the doorway.  The UHF Antenna has remains of the fiberglass cover on the mount.  The communications manhole has its original door welded in place, upside down.  The communications silo has much Teflon foam insulation in place; the protective cap is missing from the nitrogen fill valve, and the hinge pins have been knocked out from the silo lid.   The escape hatch is still in place. The sight tube has the original cover plate bolted in place.   The concrete bases for both blast detection optical sensor masts are still in place.  One of two Quonset huts remains on site.  The hut sits inside its own fenced enclosure adjacent to the main site, to the SW.  The foundation from the second Quonset is also in a separate fenced enclosure, on the NW edge of the site.

Dyess Missile Site #6, Lawn, TX

On 24 Jun 2000, The Atlas ICBM Historical Society hosted an open house of Dyess Missile Site #6, in cooperation with Missile Base Enterprises, the agency controlling the site.  This open house, east of Lawn, Texas, had been advertised both in the Abilene newspaper and the Dyess AFB base paper.  Those braving the heat and dust were treated to explanations of the surface features, such as the silo doors, pop-up antenna silo, UHF antenna, sight tube platform, this foundation, and the concrete entry portal.  Stainless steel piping still gleams in the sun. This was followed by guided tours of both levels of the Launch Control Center (LCC).  A string of holiday lights helps you navigate the stairs down from the entry portal. On the first (upper) level, visitors noted the large central column, the escape hatch, and coil spring mounts for fluorescent light fixtures.  On the second (lower) level, we could see the remains of the walls which had boxed-in the center column.  Complicated ductwork still hangs from the ceiling. Hats off to Bruce Townsley, president of the historical society, and Larry Sanders, president/CEO of Missile Base Enterprises, for allowing the community this chance to see an ICBM facility up close.  Several other society members worked the event, spending their Saturday afternoon teaching visitors about the Atlas system.  After the public tours ended, society members enjoyed a nice dinner in the LCC, talking about -- what else -- the challenges and joys of renovating missile sites!

I did make a short side trip and found  the separate water system site for Missile Site #6.  It sits about 1.5 miles west of the missile site, and consisted of two wells which provided fresh water through a pipeline.  The only reference I have on this small installation calls it Dyess Water System Site MS06.

On 19 Dec 2003, I made a return visit to Dyess Missile Site #6.   More hard work had been spent cleaning up the site. An emu had taken up residence on the property, observing me as I observed the entry portal and escape hatch. Downstairs, the LCC including the escape hatch were in good shape. One detail I noticed, Larry has retained the upper portions of wall framing in the lower level of the LCC.  This way, future visitors will be able to visualize the layout of the walls that used to exist here. 

Dyess Missile Site #10, Nolan, TX

The owner of  Dyess Missile Site #10 gave a tour on 14 Oct 2000, in conjunction with the Atlas ICBM Historical Society.  This site was purchased directly from the government by the present owner.  The seemingly random assortment of debris on the silo cap is actually a large (and accurate) sundial.  There are remnants of the water plant, cooling tower, emergency exit, and UHF antenna base visible.  The entryway is functional, although it has had a bit of remodeling over the years.  Here is the view looking from the entryway toward the silo, as well as the view looking from the silo toward the entryway.  The silo lacks crib structure, and is partly water-filled.  Here is a view of the silo doors from below.  In the LCC, most of the interior wood framing and trim is intact, although much of the sheetrock has been covered with paneling. Down the stairwell, we looked around the LCC. Ducts and pipes still hung from the ceiling. We observed the escape hatch, and original stenciling on a blast door.

One curious feature is this unusual steel cover, of undetermined origin and purpose, over the communications pop-up antenna silo.  Not a standard Atlas feature, it resembles the antenna support housing for a VORTAC.  

The site owner also acquired Dyess Water System Site MS10, which consists of three wells located about 3/4 mile west of the missile site.  Each well is in a small barbed wire fenced enclosure; one has a small Butler building inside the fence, and still has signage with a Dyess AFB phone number to call in case of emergency!  (I was tempted, but no -- I did not call the number!)

Dyess Missile Site #3, Clyde, TX

On 28 Oct 2000, the Atlas ICBM Historical Society arranged a tour of Dyess Missile Site #3, which is now owned by the Clyde Independent School District (CISD) and used for school bus parking and maintenance.  One Quonset hut remains, and the slab for the other is visible.  The security gate is in place, and some of the original locking mechanism remains.  The UHF antenna still has the emitter.  An unusual feature of this site is a pair of pop-up antenna silos.  The entry portal is in good shape, as is the perimeter fence.  The remains of the water treatment structure, cooling tower foundation, fuel hydrant fittings, escape hatch, sight tube platform, and sewage system are visible.  The silo doors are in good condition.  Three of four light pole mounts remain in place.

Underground, the stairwell and LCC are quite wet.  The blast doors have had walk-through openings cut through them.  Notice the ladder leading into the escape hatch.   A painted sign near the stairs still reads "NO LONE ZONE." Some conduit is in place.  Many of the light fixture shock mounts are in place in the LCC (note also one of the four support links which supported the floor structure on shock absorbers). 

The CISD also owns the former Dyess Water System Site MS03, which consists of two wells on separate plots of land about a mile east of the missile site.  Each well was surrounded by a standard barbed wire fence, although on one well the fence has been removed.  One of the plots originally had a Butler building, but it was destroyed by a tornado post-Air Force and replaced with this building.

Intersite Communications Cable System

The Dyess missile sites were connected by a buried cable system.  I have not attempted to find any remnants of this system.  The following information is from a General Services Administration memo, written after the missile sites had been inactivated, and while the property was being disposed of.

"The property consists of 349 right of way easements and 138 licenses 16 feet in width and a total length of 200.5 miles located in the six counties set forth above. [Jones, Shackelford, Nolan, Taylor, Callahan, and Runnels Counties.]

The entire system consists of 12 lines, each line containing cables of a varying number of pairs from two to 18. The cable interconnects all twelve missile sites to each other and to a command post located on Dyess Air Force Base.

Also included are 33 manholes. Repeaters and repeater housings have been removed from the manholes by the Air Force, the repeaters for use elsewhere and the repeater housings for disposal through the Dyess AFB Redistribution and Marketing Office.

That portion of the cable lying within the boundary fences of the missile sites has been disposed of to Progress Petroleum Corporation, Wichita Falls, Texas, under Defense Logistics Services Center contract."

An Inventory attached to the above memorandum lists these equipment types:

Man Holes, small CGER 4562
Man Holes, large CGER 8533
Repeater Housings (Raleigh) K 7241
Repeaters, Reg. Type (Raleigh) K-2442-1
Repeaters, Non-reg. (Raleigh) KC-2413-3
Terminal Box (Electro-kinetics) 161206-1

Source:  General Services Administration, Region 7, Real Property Division, Memorandum to File, May 11, 1966, Subject "Inspection Report, ICBM Communication Cable Line, Jones, Shackelford, Nolan, Taylor, Callahan, and Runnels Counties, Texas, D-Tex-604-P.  This is filed under Record Group 291 at the National Archives and Records Administration - Southwest Region, Fort Worth, Texas.

Atlas ICBM Highway

Those of you who are members of the Atlas ICBM Historical Society know that Larry Sanders worked to have Farm to Market Road 604 designated as the Atlas ICBM Highway.  The unveiling ceremony was on 5 Sep 2001, and Larry hosted a reception afterwards at the Lawn Atlas site.  For more information, here is the invitation.  Here is a photo of Larry and the sign on the east edge of Lawn, taken 19 Dec 2003.

Presentation to Atlas ICBM Historical Society

I was honored to be the guest speaker at a meeting of the society, on 18 Dec 2003.   My presentation is available for download, in Microsoft Power Point.