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Site Updates 2010

This is a log of changes and updates to the web site listed in descending order from newest to oldest.  This site is very much a Work in Progress and my work on it is ever on-going though updates may be slow.


If you are looking for what's new, you've come to the right place!  Links are provided to updated material when applicable, and postings are organized by date.  Check back often, you never know when I'll add something new!

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12/05/2010 - Two new documents added.  Plus, more excuses, etc.

The holiday has arrived early!  An update!  Two new documents which I think are very interesting indeed are now available in the document library.  One comes from the library of Fred Epler and the other represents an insane amount of effort on my part to present it to you in excellent quality.


First in the Operational Histories section of the Document Library:


451ST STRATEGIC MISSILE WING - OUTSTANDING MISSILE UNIT 1963 - A recommendation by Colonel Julious Pickoff for the 451st SMW to receive the Colonel Lee R. Williams memorial missile trophy for outstanding performance in 1963.  Included with the recommendation is a detailed graphic summary outlining the accomplishments of the 451st crewmembers.  This document provides lots of interesting details, photos and insight into the day-to-day operations involved in operating a Titan missile wing.


Next in the Tech Order Publications section of the Document library:


T.O. 21-SM68-2J-5-3 - RE-ENTRY VEHICLE SYSTEM JOB MANUAL - Job manual covering all phases of R/V handling at the launch area including re-entry vehicle emplacement, removal and recycling as well as safety and handling, hazards and corrective actions associated with the Mark IV R/V pertaining to the Titan I weapon system.

Why do updates take sooo long?  A quick look.

As author of a site that, to my amazement, seems to have a sizeable readership out there, I find myself faced with actual guilt when I can't produce new updates in a timely manner.  I know there are folks out there at work on a Friday morning looking for ways to be unproductive and craving something interesting to read to pass the time.  They run down their list of web sites hoping for some good material and they get to my site only to see there's still nothing new.


Why does it take so long, they wonder?  Perhaps it seems I don't care anymore?  Am I too busy?  Am I lazy?  Am I even continuing to work on the site?


Why does it take sooo damn long?


Well, first let me say that on occasion I am indeed busy or lazy, but I definitely care and I am definitely still working on the site.  In fact, not a week goes by when I don't spend considerable time working on it.  Currently, I have about 4 separate projects in the works: The Groundskeeper Pete Adventures; missile documents soon to be added; an expansion of the existing power house pages and another new section which for now shall remain a surprise.


Other tasks go on around all this.  There are videos in the works, image scanning and editing is an ever-present and necessary evil and the task of collecting, cataloging and organizing a growing mountain of information on the Titan 1 weapon system is one that will surely outlast my time on earth.


Here's an example of how it can easily take a month or more to get an update ready:


Documents can present a terrifically tedious and time-consuming job.  It isn't always as easy as feeding a stack of paper into a scanner and waiting for it to finish.  Once scanned, the document must be checked to see that it scanned properly, that all the pages are there and if not, pages must be re-scanned.  Next the pages may need to be reorganized into sensible sections and files, water marks are added and the files then saved as .pdf and renamed.  


The format of some documents can be especially work-intensive.  Many documents have "fold-outs"-- long pages with detailed drawings, schematics or other graphics that are oversized and therefore folded up to fit in a normal binder or cover.


Some of these fold-out pages can be ridiculously long-- as much as 3 feet or more in some cases.  Clearly, these pages do not fit on a typical scanner, which can only accommodate a page about 8.5" x 11.5".  If the average scanner were simply 12" on the short side, it would allow pages of pretty much any length to be auto-fed length-wise, but for some reason, the industry steadfastly avoids this size among the affordable non-commercial models.  A wide format scanner can easily accommodate these folds-outs but they can cost from $1200.00 to $25,000.00 or more.


So what can I, with my old $400.00 scanner do about this?  Well, let me tell you:


Click this link for an informative and fascinating graphic


Keep in mind that each fold-out page can take as much as 3 to 12 minutes or more to complete in this process.  The document I'm currently working on has 46 of these fold-out pages which when scanned produced 174 separate images files, each of which had to be put back together using the method illustrated above.  So far I have been working on this document, completing pages in small groups, for almost 3 weeks.  It is extremely time-consuming and labor intensive. (This part of the task completed on 12/3/2010!)


Similarly, selecting, editing and optimizing photos for regular updates out of hundreds and hundreds of images is also very time consuming.  Never fear, more updates are on their way!


Other stuff:


I have reorganized the Updates section by year to remove the clutter and reduce load time for the page.  All the updates are now in their own year-spanning pages.  Exciting, I know.  

10/10/2010 - The Adventures of Groundskeeper Pete - Part IV now online! (finally)

Part IV of the ongoing saga of silo-slogging and dark-delving at Larson 568-C by Walter and Pete, the duo of dankness and dereliction is now online.


The links section has also been updated to add a couple new sites (under the Urban Exploration and Decay section) I thought were of interest and also to cull and correct dead or changed links.  Among them,, which sadly disappeared quietly some months back and was a great site, an inspiration for this site as well as one hell of a resource for missile history.  I know it is mourned by many on the web, and hope it will return again one day.


The new links, Off Yonder Photography and both feature Titan 1 photos and images of other intriguing locations, most of which are subterranean.


A correction has been made (just one of the hundreds necessary I'm sure) to the control center section, part III concerning the colors of the punch cards used for each corresponding launcher.  I had stated that the card colors were red, white and blue, but in fact the colors were really red, yellow and blue.  My thanks to Mr. S.J. for pointing out the error.


As always, I encourage readers to point out my mistakes, no matter how trivial.  From my dubious use of punctuation, to my lapses in fact checking, right down to my egregious (but unintentional) tendency toward stating things that just plain turn out not to be true, I urge you to please show me the errors of my ways.  My email is always open.

08/31/2010 - The Adventures of Groundskeeper Pete - Part III and 2 new documents

The Adventures of Groundskeeper Pete continues and Part III is now available, though I was slower than I expected getting it together.  I would like to say my life is free from distractions and challenges, but that would be complete BS.  Enjoy the damp, dark recesses of a ravaged power house and venture into Unterland with me.


Two new documents sure to thrill and delight the collectors out there are newly-available in this update.  First, in the Other Contractor Documents section of the Document Library, a short brochure on the Titan I:


AMF - MISSION FOR DEFENSE - Former AMF president Carter L. Burgess introduces this short document on AMF's role in US defense with the then-new silo launch lift elevator contract for Titan I and other missile defense projects and training.  There is a very nice silo photo included in this document.


Col. Burgess (Army) was previously the head of (now defunct) TWA Airlines before his stint as president of AMF and had a very distinguished military and civilian career.  He died at the age of 85 in 2002.


The 2nd document, in the Martin Documents section of the Document Library, I am pleased to present, from the inexhaustible library of Fred Epler:


TITANS IN THE EARTH - Some of you may recall I lost a bid on ebay for this little gem back in June (see below, June 02, 2010) and was sorry I could not present it here.  I appealed to the world in hopes that someone might come forth and allow it to be scanned for inclusion here.


That never happened.  Nary a peep was heard.  I figured that was that, but luckily it wasn't.  Fred send me what could well be described as a "sh*tload" of information on missiles and their history (a metric sh*tload actually) and there among it all was the Titans in the Earth brochure in glorious color.


Thanks once again to Fred whose resources and knowledge of the Titans seem boundless.  I hope everyone enjoys this great little piece of Martin history brought to you by his industry and generosity.


Lots more to come to the site as I get things done.  The Larson 568 coverage will be taking up my time until it is completed or I go nuts.  Some exciting stuff (to me anyway) on the horizon will include video, more documents, more photos of course and more technical and historical information.  Now just be patient while I get it all done.

08/12/2010 - The Adventures of Groundskeeper Pete - Part II

Part II is now available.  Quick go read it before flooding reaches all of Iowa!  Part II covers the main tunnel junction.  There may be some talk about flashlights...

08/01/2010 - Translation Added, Minor Tweaks Made

I added the translation in the latest updates for the foreign readers.  I forgot to include it last night, sorry.  Also fixed some other items of no real consequence.


If anyone has any problems with how the new pages (or any pages on this site) display, please let me know so I can try to fix it.  I don't do extensive browser-compatibility testing currently so results may vary.

08/01/2010 - The Adventures of Groundskeeper Pete - Intro and Part I

As promised, some new material here in the form of a new segment chronicling some of my travels and travails to follow my obsession with Cold War missile history.  July 2010 took me to the somewhat arid climate of eastern Washington state to visit Larson site 568-C near Royal City.  The latest updates take you along (sort of) on that trip.  I can only hope that I will be able to present further adventures to other sites in the future.


You'll have to excuse my complaining about air travel in the intro, but really, the experience was far worse than I describe.  The Intro sets the stage and Part One gets down to laying bare the 568-C site-- one which has been thoroughly abused over the years.  In any case, it was a trip to remember and a site like no other.  I hope you will enjoy it and keep watch for the next updates which will follow soon.


My apologies to anyone who works in the commercial airline industry, but really, why does it have to be so damn awful?

08/01/2010 - Update's A-Comin'

Later tonight or very early tomorrow, I will finally have an update (or maybe 2) so keep your eyes peeled.  I'm working on it right now.  The drought is nearly behind us.

07/021/2010 - That Sudden Damp Feeling

A sudden water theme seems to have descended upon me lately.  Last week, just before a planned trip to visit a flooded Titan I site in Washington state, I received a kind letter and this photograph from Larry at Undersea Adventures Dive Shop:


"Call Me!" - Smooth Larry picks up chicks in the most unlikely of places


I was of course delighted to receive this great photo of a diver, some 80 feet down against the monolithic backdrop of the submerged launcher silo cribwork.  Only days later, I would find myself braving the dark waters of this same silo in a kayak.  Sadly I have no diving experience so I had to remain above the water, but I did of course document the adventure digitally so I may share it with you later.  (at the cost of a dear digital camera which sadly took a dip in the decidedly non-therapeutic waters of propellant terminal #2.  It will be deeply missed.)


So, if you want to see a Titan I as few have, and have been dying to visit one yourself, then get yourself a dive certification and contact the good folks at Undersea Adventures to schedule a dive.  Oh yeah, you'll also have to get yourself to Washington state.


Mange Tusen Takk!

My thanks for the hospitality of the Undersea Adventures crew for showing me around and assisting with the incursion.


Giant special thanks go out to Walter Silva for making the trip possible, for being kind and generous beyond reproach, and for hauling my fat ass around in the kayak while I juggled lights and cameras and other accoutrements.  Additional thanks to Walter's girlfriend for her hospitality and boundless charity which saved me from certain starvation.  Thank you!


The Work

Work on the site continues amidst myriad tasks and tedious image processing.  Expect a brief blogular-style account of the aquatic Adventures of Groundskeeper Pete to whet your appetite for all things Titan in a swiftly (well, maybe) upcoming update.  Also included: A scathing indictment of the airline industry whose motto should be "We Suck Now More Than Ever".

06/023/2010 - New Document Added

Yes, it is an update, though not a section update with lots of juicy photos (which is forthcoming I assure you) but an update at any rate.


In the Martin Documents section of the Document Library, a short brochure on the Titan I:


USAF TITAN INTERCONTINENTAL BALLISTIC MISSILE- This document is simply a short blurb about Martin and the Titan project with an accompaniment of photos showing the Denver Martin facility and test stands, static testing and transport to the Cape for launching.  There are no operational base photos as the document predates them.  In short, it is a nifty little artifact of the SM-68 program, really just a curiosity, but it does have a few nice photos though some are commonly seen in other sources.


Coming to a silo near YOU!


Still no word on the other brochure (see image below).  If anyone has one of them, please contact me, I would really like to acquire a scan of this Titans in the Earth brochure to post here on the web site.

06/02/2010 - Status and a Heartfelt Plea

It has been a few months with no real update to speak of and I feel guilty that people are checking in only to find nothing new on the site.  However, this does not indicate that I am just sitting on my ass-- oh no-- I have been busy with a myriad of activities relating to the site: documents and photos and more.  I have even found myself distracted from one Titan-related task by one or more other Titan-related tasks.  Rest assured, before long, I'll have something ready.


And now The Plea:

Recently I found the following nifty item for sale on eBay.  It's a small color brochure about how the Titan I and II missiles are the latest and greatest (at the time) weapons ever made and what an awesome responsibility it is that the US arsenal includes such dread deterrents to war.  It has a couple neat cut-away diagrams of the two types of Titan missile sites and other general information about them.


"Missiles and You" - An informative pamphlet on nuclear deterrence and defense


Sadly I was outbid.  Them's the breaks-- my tough luck really.  Items like this are really an interesting bit of history to me as they are basically part of a PR campaign by the various defense industry contractors and serve as both assurance of US military might and capability as well as a sort of FAQ about the weapon system(s) for the American populace.  


My hope was to include it in the library section on the web site along with a couple other similar documents I've run across.  So I thought I would see if I could reach the new owner of the brochure/pamphlet and see if I could ask them to send a scan of it so I can share it here.


So please, if you are the new owner, or perhaps know him or her, please pass on this humble request for me please.  My email is chromehooves[at]hotmail[dot]com  I hope we can get in touch.  Thanks!

04/11/2010 - Erroneous information corrected  and a new memoir added

I recently received an email from Mike Jackson, SMSgt, USAF (Ret) pointing out a factual error on Entry Portal Section Part III where I stated that the insignia worn by SMSgt. McMillan had been changed during the 1960's from a 1-up, 6-down design to a 2-up, 5-down design.


This change in fact occurred in 1991 and not in the 1960's as I had come to believe.   My thanks to Mike for having a keen eye for details and not only notifying me of my mistake but providing documentation to corroborate his correction.


I would once again like to urge anyone who spots an error on the web site to please, please take the time to let me know.  Drop me an email and tell me where I've gone wrong!  I know I have made errors that are just waiting to be rooted out.  I try to avoid making assumptions and I work to ensure accuracy, but let's face it, I'm just one man.  So please, call BS on me, show me the error(s) of my way(s), make an honest man out of me.


New Memoir

After an embarrassing delay, I have finally posted a 2nd memoir by former American Machine and Foundry engineer PNR, who holds the distinction of being the developer of the Titan 1 flame deflector.  He expands on his story of design and talks frankly of the project, the company and of his contemporaries in the early missile defense industry.


Naughty Brazilian Site Scrapers

Once again, I've experienced what appears to be a user in Brazil ( scraping my site, basically vacuuming all its content using software.  While I appreciate that someone wouldn't want to miss anything or might perhaps want to read the site offline, I would prefer not to be scraped please.  I don't want to start blocking IP addresses.  Thank you.

03/19/2010 - Main Tunnel Junction Part IV and a new document added

The final part: Main Tunnel Junction Part IV, is now online, bringing that section to a close (until further updates arise).  Discover Tad and poke about the inner spaces of T.J.#10 accompanied by my usual ramblings!


Good news for lovers of missile minutiae!  New, in the Martin Documents section of the Document Library:


TITAN I CAPTIVE AND FLIGHT-TEST FIRING HISTORY - This document compiles data from captive and flight-test firings of missile lots A through VS from the Denver, Atlantic and Pacific Missile Range stands.

Curious what caused the firing-test failure of missile C-2 at Denver test stand #4 on August 20th, 1959?


Want to know the why the troubled history of missile J-2 met a sad end over the Atlantic Missile Range on July 1st, 1960 when it was destroyed by the Range Safety Officer?


Before: Missile J-2 on the launch pad.

Photo courtesy of Art LeBrun


After: Flight-test of missile J-2 ending in a dramatic conflagration.

Photo courtesy of Art LeBrun

Find out in this comprehensive history!


Up and Coming:

What's next for the site you may well ask?  Well, it could be a further expansion of existing sections such as the Power House, Mezzanine level, Air Intake and Exhaust, Control Center et cetera, or perhaps cover new ground.  I'm still mulling it over.  Suggestions?  Let me know what you'd like to see.

03/04/2010 - Main Tunnel Junction Part III and 2 new documents added

With all my usual celerity Main Tunnel Junction Part III is now online and 2 new documents are also available:


First, in the Martin Documents section of the Document Library:


MISSILE J-20 (XSM-68) OPERATIONAL SUMMARY REPORT - This summary details the "discrepancies" and problems encountered with the missile prior to its launch from Cape Canaveral and the actions taken to resolve them.


And the second new addition is in the In The News section:


DIVE!  DIVE!  SWIMMING TO ARMAGEDDON - A short newspaper article on Larson 568-A when one of its silos saw a stint as a deep dive center.  Read it here.


There will be one more section to round out the Main Tunnel Junction before moving on to pastures new (or more likely revisiting pastures old).

02/14/2010 - Main Tunnel Junction Part II added, new document added

Happy Valentine's Day missile lovers!  Main Tunnel Junction Part II is now up for your viewing pleasure and looks at TJ#10 in old and post-operational photos.  Two more updates will follow to finish up the section.


A new document has been added to the Martin Documents section of the Document Library:


TITAN MASTER COUNTDOWN - MISSILE J-16 - This document is a detailed countdown checklist for the launch of Titan missile J-16 from Cape Canaveral and shows the actions to be performed and the person or system responsible for that task or action.


That's all for now but expect more soon.

02/07/2010 - Main Tunnel Junction section completely redone, document added

Better late than never!

I have to stop saying things like "should be up next week".  Every time I do, I am horribly late.  In lieu of an excuse let me just say honestly that tremendous effort goes into this site in preparing the photos, researching and writing my awkward, badly-edited text.  It takes a lot of work to sound sort of like I know what I'm talking about, believe me.

In the first part of a major expansion to the TJ#10 section, the entire section has been re-done and will ultimately consist of at least 4 parts.  Main Tunnel Junction Part I covers the nomenclature and construction of this complicated structure.


A new document has been added to the Other Contractor Documents section about a failed water stop seal at Larson 568-C and it's repair.


More section updates to the Main Tunnel Junction coming very soon with many more photos.  I'm finishing up on the next sections so they will follow shortly.  There will also be a few more documents ready involving the Titan I missile.  

01/18/2010 - I'm not dead yet.  I'm getting better.

Okay, just to let you know that the site's not dead or anything, I am indeed working on the next update right now and it should be online before month's end.  Expect a couple documents and an expansion of a section that is in dire need of more information.  Lots more photos coming up.

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