I don’t have anything much to write about today, and I’m still convalescing, so you’ll forgive me if I bounce back to yesterday’s post about our two-day run through America’s nuclear arsenal. I returned to our photos one more time and found something worth sharing.
It was just before noon on September 19th. The bus’n’us, with Mercy in tow, were southbound on Montana Route 191, nearing the end of that leg and preparing to turn east on US Route 12 at Harlowton. We knew that there’d be a rest area at the junction and we planned to stop.
As we passed a blue sign telling us that the rest area was a mile away, our eyes were drawn to the snow-capped Crazy (Woman) Mountains rising up dead ahead. Deb had her cell phone out, taking photos of the breathtaking sight.
Neither of us noticed the narrow road to our right, highlighted by an arrow in the photos below.
The next two photos are from Google Maps — same stretch of highway, seen in “street view.” The second image reveals that the little side road leads past a small pond (a sewage lagoon, actually) to a handful of buildings and an array of antennas.
That right there is a Missile Alert Facility (with its accompanying Launch Control Center beneath, 50 feet underground). More specifically, this is Kilo Flight of the 490th Missile Squadron, located 100 miles southeast of 341st Missile Wing headquarters at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls.
From this complex the “Kilo Kings,” as they’re known, control ten LGM-30G Minuteman III nuclear ICBMs. The missiles themselves reside in hardened underground Launch Facilities (silos) scattered across the rolling prairie.
Kilo is the southernmost missile field under the 341st. The Kilo LF farthest from this MAF/LCC is 17 miles to the east; the closest is several miles north, 750 feet east of Route 191.
We’d driven right by the nearest silo just a few minutes earlier.
By the numbers, this unassuming collection of buildings outside Harlowton, Montana represents 2.5% of America’s land-based nuclear weapons. Every one of Kilo Kings’ ten Minuteman III missiles can deliver its payload — estimated to yield 27 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb — to targets up to 8,700 miles away within 35 minutes.
On that beautiful autumn Sunday last year we guided Ernie and his toad through this very area, knifing between the Little Belts and the Big Snowies, marveling at Montana’s biggest wind farm, ogling the Crazies and tracing the Musselshell. Somehow we missed the missiles.
“If Roe v. Wade is overturned and the issue reverts to the states, some states will ban all abortions, including in the case of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is in danger. Some states will expand access to abortions and allow it up to the moment of birth — or maybe even beyond, in the case of partial-birth abortions. It may be fine for the 50 states to have different views on education, crime or the legalization of drugs. When life begins is not an issue subject to 50 different opinions.”Trey Gowdy, yesterday
One year ago today I posted, “Deb wished out loud this morning for days when we’re actually living outside again, like we did last year on weekend escapes in the Bumper Bunker. She yearns for mountain views, long walks, warm sun and weeks of blue skies. Me, too.
“Those days are coming, I believe, and soon.”
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.