Major Locales of the Titan I Complex

| Portal | Main Tunnel Junction | Control Center | Power House | Antenna Terminal |

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Portal Part II



The entry portal shared most of the construction techniques with the other silo structures of the Titan 1 complex.  Much of the building site was excavated to a depth of about 60 feet using scrapers and bulldozers.


This working depth allowed most structures to be built in place and then buried again after completion (backfilling) and the soil around them was meticulously compacted to prevent settling.  Deeper structures like the missile silos were further excavated using loaders and in the case of the LOX vents, were bored out using mining equipment.

Construction photo showing the entry portal on about the 3rd pour.  Note the temporary work scaffolding constructed about the silo.  The concrete operations of the power house and control center domes have already been completed as this photo shows (power house at lower right, control center at upper left).


None of the connecting tunnels have been emplaced at this point and the entry portal is effectively a free-standing structure in this photo.

Photo courtesy of Fred Epler

In the case of the entry portal, as with the antenna silos, equipment terminals and propellant terminals, after the foundation slab was poured, plywood forms were used to build up the walls to their final height using successive pours of concrete.


The forms were cleaned and treated with oil to prevent concrete adhesion before being re-used.  Once a pour was complete and given time to set, the forms were moved up and put in place for the next section.  The sections were tied together by a dense fabric of reinforcing steel.

Construction site showing the entry portal at center.  The tunnel opening at left leads to the unfinished power house, and in the background the power house exhaust facility can be seen in the early stages of construction.  Several more pours would bring the portal silo up to the level of grade seen as "cliffs" in the background.


The area where these workers are walking would later become tunnel junction #10-- a huge steel construction joining the power house, entry portal, control center, antenna and launcher tunnels.  Tunnel junction #10 was the nexus of the entire complex and a major engineering headache for the designers and steelworkers of the operational sites due to the wildly uneven settling of this massive structure; welds broke, seals tore open and bolts sheared off as a result of post-backfill settling of the interconnected tunnels.

Photo courtesy of Fred Epler

While concrete operations continued building up earth outside of the portal silo, inside the silo, steelworkers built up the structure of the elevator and stairs.  Extensive plumbing and electrical installation, along with the freight elevator, hydraulics, support equipment and myriad other tasks ensured that the portal remained a busy work site long after concrete operations were complete.


At the Lowry sites, the elevator was designed, built and installed by the Otis Elevator Company.  The industry giant in elevator and escalator systems, Otis was a shoe-in for the Titan 1 contract, having established itself as the dominant service provider for vertical elevating systems, long before the underground complex specifications were even drafted.  In fact, all the elevators in the equipment terminals were also Otis elevators; perhaps not quite so lavish as the walnut-paneled models with brass railings and artful lighting you might find in an office building, but still Otis through and through.

A bit further along: the forms continue advancing upward as the interface to the connecting tunnel is installed.  The tunnel to the power house is visible at left and the exhaust facility can be seen at the upper left.

Photo courtesy of Fred Epler


This is the full photo from which the previous image was zoomed in upon to show detail of the entry portal.  You can see the power house dome near the upper left of the photo and the launcher area air filtration facility (near the bottom center) and blast lock #2 at the lower left.

Photo courtesy of Fred Epler

Just as the antenna and launcher silos, the entry portal had enormous doors that opened to the surface.  The freight elevator rose all the way to the surface to allow loading of heavy freight and supplies to be brought into the complex.  Like the antenna and launcher silos, the concrete doors for the portal silo were formed and poured in place right where they were.    


That is the power house air intake in the foreground, but in the background this photo shows the entry portal with the antenna tunnel extending toward it the control center.  Next, tunnel sections will mate up to all the tunnels intersecting in this area and the whole structure will be buried again.

Photo courtesy of Fred Epler


Once the concrete was thoroughly set, the 2 doors were carefully nudged free and fully opened to check that they operated properly.  Weather seals and gaskets were installed and the ethylene glycol defrosting and snow melt system plumbing and connections were completed and connected.


Here, all the tunnels are in place and backfilling has begun.  This is actually a different site than the one pictured in the previous photo and if you look closely you'll notice differences in the order items were installed.

Photo courtesy of Fred Epler


Standing between the power house and control center domes, the entry portal is nearing completion as the forms for one of the last few concrete pours are installed.

Photo courtesy of Fred Epler


Another late-stage shot (though dark) of the entry portal.  There are perhaps 2 more concrete pours remaining with the exception of the silo doors.  In the foreground, backfilling and compaction continues as the entire complex is buried during the ongoing construction.  The distinctive heavy compactor you can see here being towed by a bulldozer is known as a "sheep's foot" compactor due to the shape of the "feet" studding the compactor drum.  These were extensively employed in Titan 1 backfill operations.

Photo courtesy of Fred Epler


With the portal silo complete, the very difficult task of matching up the numerous connecting tunnels to tunnel junction #10 which also connected to the power house, the control center, the antenna tunnel and the launcher tunnel.  Numerous problems were encountered in T.J.#10 requiring many, many repairs to welds, bolts and seals.  These problems would persist at all the Titan 1 sites, much to the chagrin of the contractors and union laborers under tight or lagging work schedules.


The last forms are being completed.  One of the 65,000 gallon diesel tanks is visible to the right, partially buried.

Photo courtesy of Fred Epler


The last pours are in place and scaffolding on the exterior has begun to be removed.  Around it all, backfill operations continue.

Photo courtesy of Fred Epler


The power house and control center domes now buried under thousands of tons of earth, only the top 10 or 15 feet of the completed entry portal silo is visible.  Before long, it too will be buried and surrounded with compacted earth.

Photo courtesy of Fred Epler


Inside the portal silo, workers compete for space to install plumbing, electrical and other systems and equipment.  


This view down the freight elevator shaft shows the structure before the wire mesh of the cage about the shaft was installed.  The stairs are visible here, winding around the elevator shaft.

Photo courtesy of Fred Epler

The next section looks at the operational complex and also at how it looks today:  Entry Portal section III.

Click below to choose another location near the entry portal, or to see the Main Map of the complex.

Current Location: Entry Portal part II

Power House Exhaust Power House Fuel Terminal Control Center Entry Portal Power House Air Intake Main Tunnel Junction Main Map

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