This Adventure:




    Part 01

    Part 02

    Part 03

    Part 04

    Part 05

    Part 06

    Part 07

    Part 08

    Part 09

    Part 10

    Part 11

    Part 12

    Part 13

    Part 14



    Main Page



Intro/Rant 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14


On the surface of it all

With luck, we found that the sun had not yet gone down on our day at 568-C (literally or figuratively) and we began the slow process of drying out from our final boat ride through the tunnels.  Topside once again, I decided to give my waterlogged camera another try.  It had improved somewhat, but remained pretty terrible.  After I returned home, I tried a number of tricks to revive it including opening it up and letting it air dry for a week or more, followed by sealing it in a jar of rice in hopes of absorbing any remaining moisture.  These efforts failed and the haze remained like a cataract, dulling and blurring the image while the flash-- undoubtedly self-destructed by its own shorted high voltage capacitor-- never returned.

Silo doors and debris at the surface  

So it was that I sadly snapped off these last few parting images before retiring my camera for good. 

I don't really know what these are.  Buoys?  Tanks?  Abstract art?  Buoys seem unlikely this far inland.  Does anyone know what these are?

There were a couple clutches of these spherical, steel vessels gathered around this site like the ova of some giant robotic ostrich.  

Walter and I spent a bit just wandering around the surface in the direction of anything that looked interesting.  We passed impressive accumulations of scrap metal looking for anything Titan-related-- perhaps a bit of gear left behind, a panel or tanks from the propellant terminal, or maybe something from the equipment terminal perhaps?

One of many large piles of tangled metal on the surface.  It was not easy trying to discern if any of the material came from the Titan complex or not, though we did spot some obvious piping and steel that had made its way up from below.

We made the rounds from launcher #1 to #2 and then #3 and crisscrossed the surface at random peering at the mountainous jumbles of pipes and steel, tires and appliances, plastic and wood.

Another terrible view of the silo doors, seen through the eyes of my "dead" camera.

The Rift (as the excavation leading down to the launchers became known) continued to perplex us as we gazed across its ragged span.  It seemed a tremendous effort for which the payoff never arrived, or turned out to be insubstantial.

One of several excavations on the site.  The entry portal doors are on the left.

We volleyed ideas back and forth about the story behind the origins of The Rift.  In the end, shrugs were the prevailing consensus.

Entry portal with junk in the background

Wandering toward the entry portal I went back for a closer look.  By this time I'd likely forgotten about my poor camera, seasoned as it was in silo marinade, it continued to produce a string of unsightly images.

Supply and return lines of the integral ethylene glycol heating system embedded in the entry portal silo doors (flexible lines absent).  This system kept snow and ice from accumulating and ensured the silo doors didn't freeze shut.

These being the first set of silo doors where I could examine them closely in the open position, I saw where the snow melt system (see above photo) ran through the insanely-thick concrete of the doors.  There in the side of the upturned leaf I spied two short lengths of copper protruding from within the multiple feet of concrete and stunningly-dense mesh of rebar.  You'd have to be dedicated indeed to try to make a go of that bit of salvage! 

Personnel entrance to the entry portal, held open precariously by a questionable piece of lumber.  Sure it looks sturdy, but it was still a bit unnerving to walk underneath it.

Something large in the distance drew my attention and we walked through the burr-filled scrub to find the top of the escape shaft we had climbed earlier down to reach the flooded launchers.

So that's where I left that!

The very top of the escape shaft that once led from the ceiling of blast lock #2.  Clearly it has been rather rudely torn from its former location and deposited here.  Some of the asphalt coating can still be seen adhering to the exterior of the steel liner.

After tearing this section loose, someone had dragged it some distance away to this spot.  I regret not climbing inside it I will admit.  

Looking through the opening of the severed escape shaft.  No ladder!!

Another huge chunk of concrete drew our attention and we found this large vault, presumably part of the sanitary sewer system or the chemical waste clarifier system.  This concrete box was monolithic, very thick-walled and had a number of pipes leading into it from several sides. 

Another likely role for this vault was for electrical runs on the surface.  The ground was riddled with cables for lights, security, communication and many other services.  This box could well have been a distribution point for many such cables.

Believed to be a part of the sanitary sewer system, this vault was found excavated somewhere near blast lock #2 and likely handled waste water from equipment terminal #1 or served as a junction for all three launchers.  It could also be an electrical cable vault.


Another view across The Rift.  Entry portal doors in the background.


Looking across The Rift again, this time at a pile of central pivot irrigation piping stacked haphazardly next to another excavated section of concrete that was likely more of the sewer system. 


Top of the chemical waste clarifier.  These concrete blocks covered the top of a series of chambers filled with crushed limestone through which waste water would flow in an effort to filter out contaminants before it was allowed to flow unimpeded out onto the ground.  Not sure how effective that was; minimal, at best, I suspect.

Before long it occurred to me that we yet had just a few places left in the underground portion of the complex where we had yet to trundle into blithely like caricatures of Carter and Canarvon.  (regrettably, I would soon encounter the feared "Titans' Curse" as you will read later)

There were in fact three such places remaining and I was determined to see them all: The power house air intake, exhaust and the launcher area air filtration facility (LAAFF is not much less a mouthful to annunciate so why bother?).

The launcher area air filtration facility is what supplies the launcher tunnels and blast locks with fresh air and is basically a miniature version of the power house air intake.

We found the intake shaft wide open and the ladder still intact so we made our way down only to find that the pigeons had infiltrated the area, annexing it as it were, one more part of the world into their giant, global avian toilet.

Largely-intact blast valve at the launcher air filtration facility intake.

At the bottom of the intake shaft we found one of the blast valves had been dismantled for access allowing us to just saunter right on in.  Actually, "saunter in" is rather an exaggeration; we had to lean out to the extreme reach of one arm from a ladder while 10 feet above a concrete floor and extend one foot into the blast valve opening and then push off from the ladder.  On leaving, the reverse was required, all while avoiding the flapping pigeons and the dreaded threat of their incontinent overflights as they exploded out of their hiding places with startling bursts of noise.

The one open blast valve as viewed from the access ladder.

We opted to explore the lower filter area first, saving the harrowing and acrobatic maneuvers needed to reach the upper level for last.

The door beyond the blast valves leading into the filtration area.

A substantial, but low blast door (which secured from the inside) was left conveniently open and through which we accessed the lower level of the filtration area.  There I saw the familiar line of dust collection hoppers and wondered how the hell they removed the dust from below ground once they were full!

Dust collectors (painted orange) in the lower level of the intake and filtration area.

These hoppers were the same at Lowry and other sites and were once connected to some sort of collection bin or bag where the accumulated dust would collect and await removal.

Dust collection hoppers beneath the cyclonic dust separators.  Notice the access "portholes" for level indication and maintenance.

The hoppers were supplied with power during operation suggesting that their functioning included some sort of auger to help settle the dirt into the collection containers that had been attached to each one.

Cyclonic dust separator tubes inside the collection hoppers.

The cyclonic separators' functioning was very simple: as air swirled through them, the heavier particulate and dust would eventually settle out through the bottom of the tubes into the waiting hoppers.  This system filtered the air to an acceptable degree without employing replaceable filters as the front line of defense against dust.

Lower intake and filtration area, looking toward the entry blast door.

It is interesting to note that no more rigorous effort was made to filter out radioactive dust from fallout by this or any other air intake system of the Titan I missile complex.  If an enemy missile sent fallout blowing across the surface of a Titan I site it was coming right inside the air intakes.

Top of the cyclonic dust separators on the upper level of the intake and filtration area.  These tubes are where the incoming air first enters this area after removal of dust and other particulate.

Climbing to the upper level of the filtration area, we found most of the equipment had been taken; the fan had somehow been coaxed out of this enclosed and rather constricted space.  There is no way it was removed completely in one piece so it must have been cut into chunks to get it out of the way.  The tunnels beyond contain little of value so I have to wonder why they went through the trouble.

Plumbing near the former location of the air intake fan (empty brackets at right). 

Ducking into the air tunnels our backs groaned as we hunched over in the short air shafts leading to the blast locks and launcher tunnels below.

Launcher area air filtration tunnels.  These are 5' in diameter requiring an uncomfortable crouch while traversing them for all but the most diminutive of visitors.

Ahead, the tunnel branched off to both blast locks.  We caught a quick peek into the complex below through an open blast valve.

One of the blast valve shaft that supplied air to the launcher areas.


More launcher area air filtration tunnels

Weary from the uncomfortable tunnels, we eagerly headed back to the filtration area and without much trouble from scuttling pigeons anxiously puttering about, we emerged on the surface with daylight to spare.

Looking toward the power house air intake (left of center) framed by junk, scrap and assorted, derelict vehicles (and a few trees!).

Next on the list of places to see was the power house air intake.  At first we tried to access it from inside the power house and went back down to have a look.  However, after assessing what could only be described as an "extremely untrustworthy ladder" we decided to approach it from the surface access.

The bottom of a very unsteady section of a long and very damaged ladder in the power house.  This led to the air intake tunnel, but was so twisted and wobbly we wisely abandoned any thoughts of climbing it.

We headed for the air shaft and found it had been closed up in typical haphazard fashion using steel and chain link fencing which at least would keep people and animals from falling to the bottom, but not do much to keep determined intruders out.  

Power house air intake shaft.  Makeshift safety guard provided by what appears to be scavenged steel and cannibalized chain link from the perimeter fence (a recurring strategy at several sites it seems).

Again with the Pigeons

Another great benefit of the shaft's closure was that it kept out the vile and defiling nuisance of Columba livia, if you'll recall from part 7-- the common pigeon.  With great displeasure I observed a gaping hole in the safety and security once provided by the barrier over the shaft.  The pigeons, oh no, the pigeons!  I thought.  Surely they had infiltrated and befouled every square nanometer of space within!

I was right.

As usual, things don't stay secured long at these sites.  Here, the maintenance access ladder has been exposed and leads down into the site.

Looking down the shaft I could see everywhere the evidence of their vile presence: feathers and droppings were all over the place and the rungs of the access ladder were encrusted with with the pigeons' odious calling cards.  I couldn't see the vile fiends, but their compulsive, jabbering coos emanated unseen from them somewhere below.

It was about this time that Walter, eyeing the ladder with its unwelcoming strata of bird droppings, opted to bow out of further underground incursions owing to the punishment inflicted on his back by a full day's walking, climbing, kayaking, ducking and general physical activity.  A wise move perhaps; I would be on my own for this next area.

The Crappening

Before I even started down I could see I was in for a treat.  Apart from the obvious and unavoidable filth on the ladder, (Gloves!  If only I'd brought gloves!) a far greater threat awaited me in the form of nervous pigeons scuttling about below.  A dreaded aerial assault loomed at the slightest disturbance of those fine feathered fiends below.

I'd barely begun my descent when one of the pestilent nitwits started flapping about in circles threatening my as-yet fece-free hair and clothing.

I descended with prudent swiftness to a wasteland of trash and tires that lay at the bottom where I became a veritable "fish in a barrel" for possible bombardment-- hence, few photos were taken at the bottom as I fled to relative safety (so I thought) through one of the open blast valves.

The images below are all video stills so the quality is poor, sorry.

At the bottom of the air intake shaft.  Pigeon danger is ever present!  Must make it to safety!  There across this treacherous pile of junk I spied my escape through an open blast valve.


Upper ring of open blast valves leading into the filtration area behind about 2 feet of concrete.


A blast valve on the lower ring-- my ingress

Piled high

Amidst the precarious and highly unstable footing, I struggled to close the distance between myself and what I then perceived to be safety.  Crossing the debris field of tires, metal and wildly pitching junk, I struggled hard to keep my footing and escape the pigeons which, disturbed by my sudden appearance, flew about stupidly over my head filling me with great unease.

A horror show of pigeon waste awaited me inside the filtration area.  This was only just a peek at the unspeakable sights and smells I would experience.

When I reached the wall of the shaft, I was faced with an opening that was lined with bird droppings.  The sound of many birds could be heard within; if I went inside, would I be moving from the pan to the fire?

Taking care not to grab the filthy ledge, I pulled myself up into the opening and then observed the horror that lay within: incredible and revolting mounds of accumulated bird droppings-- decades worth-- covered the interior.  The air was thick with dust and bits of pigeon feathers and I shuddered to think of what that dust was chiefly comprised of as visions of histoplasmosis* danced in my head.

* An often flu-like lung disease caused by fungus present in soil, bat and bird droppings. Histoplasmosis impairs lung function (among many other symptoms) and can be fatal.

Access to the lower level dust collection area-- an absolutely frightening swamp of putrid black mud and water filled with decaying bird corpses, mold, feces and feathers.  An absolute nightmare.  I dared not tread there.

Passing through the open blast valve I dropped down onto a thick covering of bird excrement-- an accumulation of decades' worth of it-- layered over with the bones and feathers of many, Many, MANY pigeons long since deceased.

Air intake fan sheaves (the pulley where the belts go) at left and a gigantic belt guard that used to cover them.

The air was thick and filled with roiling dust continuously agitated by nervous, scuttling, feathered, vermin that fluttered about chaotically trying to escape my approach.  The reek of decay and ammonia fell upon me like a moldy, wet towel making me unconsciously breathe as little as possible.

I have never seen another fan with this many drive belts!  This thing was huge!  This one takes 10 belts!

Conscious of the perilous nature of the air, I drew fewer and shallower breaths, and-- in a futile effort to perhaps spare my lungs-- breathed only through my tortured nose.

I found myself in a space between the blast valves and the intakes to the many dust collectors.  This space was cackling with hidden pigeons, any of which could take flight at any moment and unload on me like I was an old Chevy.

Variable inlet vanes on the air intake fan.  Yup, this baby was manufactured by Trane Co. in LaCrosse Wisconsin and shipped cross-country by rail just like those at the Lowry site, and, I'm guessing, ALL the Titan I sites.

Quickly I headed through a narrow access door into the exit side of the dust collectors, where, amazingly, conditions deteriorated even further: more passed-on pigeons were strewn about and the dung covering the floor grew ever deeper!

Spray nozzles inside the air intake air washer.  This system performed several functions: removing dust and raising or lowering humidity and temperature of the incoming air.  A mist of chilled water was sprayed into the air as it passed through this area.

I couldn't help thinking how Walter was probably enjoying a leisurely walk about the surface while I blundered further and further into a nightmare of filth and decay while clouds of infectious miasma swirled about me.

An access panel into the air washer with the glass broken out of it.  We can't have nice things!


It washes... It blows... 

American Standard: Not just toilets and urinals anymore!


Tag on the side of the cyclonic dust separators.  Banks of these truck-sized collectors surrounded the air shaft helping to filter all incoming air.


Top of a dust collector showing the outlet tubes where air exited before heading on to the air washers.

Determined to see everything, I spent as much time looking about as I could stand.  Once I moved away from the dust collectors, the pigeons and their attendant and abhorrent filth lessened somewhat.  I spent a bit more time looking at the air intake tunnel and fan before braving the ladder back to the surface.  On the way back up soiling by pigeons was averted, but my hands were seriously defiled by climbing that nasty ladder!

The incredibly filthy floor in the air intake. A dust collector stands at left.


A closer look at the unbelievable retch-inducing conditions in the power house air intake facility. The floor is covered in droppings several inches deep and littered with feathers and uncountable carcasses of dead pigeons.  You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and pigeonry (actually, yes you will.  Read on below.).


Looking down into the power house from the air intake tunnel at the rickety deathtrap of a ladder connecting the tunnel to the unyielding concrete of the floor 16 feet below.

Back on the surface again, I gratefully gulped the clean air and counted myself lucky that the only bird droppings I'd accumulated were from the rungs of the ladder.

I fully planned to forge onward and see the power house exhaust and thus complete my exploration of 568-C.  Having witnessed the hazards presented by the pigeons at the air intake and hearing my tales of revulsion and disgust about the conditions therein, it came as no surprise that Walter also opted out of visiting the power house air exhaust.

The Titans' Curse

We found the exhaust shaft to be completely open at the top, save for some supporting steel that had been welded in place to support a cover or barrier of some improvised sort.

I groaned at the implications of this open shaft, knowing that it would certainly mean a plague far greater than the last one awaited me below.  A continuous babble rose from somewhere down within the complex hinting at the menace harbored there.

Sure enough, as soon as I started down the ladder a couple of the rotten bastards took to the air; flying about like idiots, they seemed unable to find the huge exit overhead as they flew in circles.

Walter did his best to shoo them away from the ladder, but it was no use, I was brutally soiled well before I reached the bottom and dove for cover.  The Titans had exacted their vengeance on me for my intrusion.

Upper row of blast valves at the power house exhaust.

Inside I found myself in even greater peril as I flushed out more of the bloody birds from their hiding places.  My supposed "refuge" turned out to be a nightmare of flying, noisy, excreting peril.

The air was much much worse than before and thick with dust and feathers.  Birds blundered about everywhere, taking flight and stirring up the filthy air even more.  The stench was astoundingly vile and ammonia burned my nose.  Dead birds and egg shells were everywhere atop a much deeper layer of accumulated pigeon waste.

My camera, nearly useless in the clouds of dust, was quickly abandoned to my pocket.  Any photos I tried to take in that place would only show a kaleidoscope of dust motes rendering the image as thousands of white speckles.

Lower row of blast valves, left wide open for maximum pigeon infiltration and aggravation.

I spent only seconds in the area and headed directly toward the exhaust tunnel in hopes of escaping some of the birds and odor that tortured me near the blast valves.

Putting some distance between myself and the blast valves did provide some relief from the pigeons, but by that time I had already taken several hits.  The passage followed the curvature of the wall to the former location of the exhaust fans.  There I encountered a troubling obstacle.

This pipe appears to be solidly mounted to a concrete floor, but how much floor surrounds it?

Water had collected at the mouth of the exhaust tunnel that led into the complex.  It appeared to be mere fractions of an inch deep owing to nearby landmarks, but the dark, crusted and foul muck made it impossible to tell if I would be stepping on solid ground or if I would dunk myself in some of the most unearthly effluent I'd ever encountered.

A couple narrow pipes enticed me to test my balance and tiptoe across on them.  I decided against that idea after very little consideration.

There's just got to be a floor under there right?  Look, a steel support.  It should be fine to step near that right?  Right??

It looked like water, it really did-- disgusting, black, filthy water.  I sensed a trap.

As if to allay my suspicions, a pigeon waddled moronically about the area, demonstrating, it seemed, that all was well and the ground was solid.  Go ahead, take a step, it seemed to say.

Across the void, the exhaust tunnel calls with promises of intrigue and solid footing with no pigeons.  I had only to walk over and climb a short ladder.

I looked around for anything I might use to test the surface: a twig, a pebble, a contrabassoon-- anything, but somehow in that ravaged and littered place there was nothing that really fit the bill.  Nothing I would touch anyway.  I wasn't about to pick up a dead (or living) pigeon.

The exhaust tunnel beckoned from across the short expanse of dubious ground as I hesitated.  I finally put one foot out and tested a spot, encrusting my shoe with black mud as it touched down on concrete.  It was safe!

This is how it gets you, I thought.  If I let down my guard at any point and neglect to test a spot, that's when I'll fall right in.

Making my weary way carefully to the ladder, I arrived without incident to find that the ladder itself was partially submerged in a water-filled gap I could easily have blundered into had I not been cautious.

Diesel exhaust lines near the exhaust tunnel.  All that insulation is asbestos plaster.  Most of it is in good shape, but some damage and erosion is evident making this a potentially hazardous area.


These exhaust lines are about 2 feet in diameter and are joined by huge cast flanges (bronze colored).  Some damage to the asbestos plaster is visible on this elbow.


One of 2 large exhaust fans used to be mated to this opening to force effluent out through the blast valves deeper inside the exhaust facility.


Shock mounted frames and plumbing at the outer plenum.  This area is still behind the blast valves.  I have no idea what used to be mounted to the large steel framework, but I suspect it may have been dampers to control airflow.  As for the plumbing, I have no idea why water service would be present in the exhaust facility.  Any insight would be welcome.


Exhaust plenum past the fan bulkhead.  Of course there is a pigeon on that light fixture.


The mysterious frame for which I could not determine its function.  With pigeons infesting it of course.


Another shot of the shock mounted frame with plumbing running along one side.  What are those pipes for?


Ship-style water/air-tight port door in the fan bulkhead.  This door needed to seal well to both withstand and maintain the positive pressure on the other side when closed.  That pressure is what forced the exhaust out of the facility.

Though the ladder did pitch in a bit of a threatening gesture, I arrived safely in the asbestos-laden exhaust tunnel.  In truth, it appeared that a good job was done in removing the majority of the asbestos in the exhaust tunnel, but a lot of residue remained-- especially under the floor panels.

Bulkhead leading to one of the 3 diesel tanks in the exhaust tunnel.

Looking in at the fuel tanks, I couldn't get my lousy camera to focus in the low light of the large storage room combined with the matte black of the fuel tank.

The smaller tank was easier work with and as I looked in, I noticed that there was no mention of the tanks ever having been emptied or cleaned as they had at Lowry 724-C.  The scent of diesel was very strong and I wondered if there might still be fuel in those tanks.

Peeking in at the 5000-gallon day tank in its storage area.  The smell of diesel was very strong in this area.


Looking around the enclosure.  The tank has a tar or rubber covering to prevent corrosion.  The diesel smell was getting worse.

After observing the fill and vent lines leading to the tank, I noticed something a bit unsettling as it appeared as though diesel fuel was actively leaking down the wall by the day tank.  One entire space between joins in the tunnel liner was black with diesel fuel that had run down.

The reason for the fuel stench: actively leaking diesel fuel at the day tank.

At the time, I had no idea how the hell a tank with residual fuel could leak like that.  Clearly there was not a hole in the tank, rather the fuel was leaking around a failed gasket at a pipe flange and from farther up along the line somewhere.  Any remaining fuel sitting in the bottom of the tank cannot just flow up the fill pipe and find its way out of a leak higher up.  Gravity would surely take issue with such a feat.  What was going on here?

A leaky pipe flange with rags wrapped around it at the day tank.

One likely way this happened comes from a typical condition that commonly occurs in all underground storage tanks.  Atmospheric moisture always condenses inside a tank over time where it runs down into the fuel and pools at the bottom because diesel floats on water (as do other fuels).  Over time, the level in the tank rises owing to this accumulation of water in the bottom (it is common practice to have this water removed in an actively used tank) and the diesel fuel, being on top, was the first thing to find its way up and out of the vent or hole or failed gasket when the level became high enough.

Exhaust tunnel leading to the power house at left.  Day tank fuel storage bulkhead is on the right.

Following my discovery of leaking petrochemicals, I quickly made a somewhat cursory look around the rest of the exhaust tunnel and climbed the hell on up out of that disgusting place.

Heading toward the power house.  Normally this tunnel would bring you to the mezzanine level but alas, the entire mezzanine has been torn out leaving a pleasant 16 foot drop to the concrete floor.


Looking down into the power house at the many slabs and open trenches below.

Departing from the dusty and asbestiferous tunnels of Larson 568-C, Walter and I were tired-- really damn tired.  It had been a long day and we hadn't eaten a bite since morning (save for a few rather stale and melted chocolate donuts from the local convenience store.

We rinsed off as best we could with a gallon jug of water and packed up our gear as the sun finally began to slip behind the distant mountains.  We stopped off at the aforementioned convenience store and washed up like vagrants in the restroom-- I doused my contaminated hair in the sink and washed away the rest of the filth from the nightmarish bird-infested areas and changed out of my asbestos-laden clothes.

We talked with great excitement as Walter drove us back to Spokane where I nearly collapsed in my cheap motel room after a very long and hot shower.  All my clothes were quarantined-- double bagged and carefully packed, my shoes washed thoroughly and entombed in plastic for a more extensive decontamination back home.

The next day Walter picked me up and on the way to the airport we hit a small Chinese restaurant where I tried my camera one last time:

Standard Chinese restaurant placemat through the eyes of a ruined camera.

 Still broken it seems...

Seasonings and soy sauce.  Nope, not looking much better.

Walter and I talked Titan I as we ate and spoke of other sites we hoped one day to see and of the epic trip we'd had.  Later at the airport I realized that if I could, I'd turn around and go right back down in that place.

La Commedia è finita!

Rejoin us soon for more adventures and thank you for your comments, support and interest.  Happy holidays to you!

-- Groundskeeper Pete


Intro/Rant 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14