Turn Swords into Picture Frames

Willsboro, NY Saturday, June 13, 1998 - Every day, Tony Lesperance drives his truck to work. He rolls onto the property and down the half-mile paved road, past the chain-link fence topped with coiled barbed wire and around an underground missile silo that is two hundred feet deep and fifty-two feet around. Tony parks his truck, gets out and saunters through the doorway of one of the quonset huts housing his plant and offices. Had he done this when the property held its nuclear weapon, well before his hand touched the doorknob, Tony would have been shot dead.

Beneath these four-foot thick doors (white) once stood a fierce wrecking machine, locked and loaded to destroy an entire city. Today it is filled with water. The quonset huts house a small manufacturing plant.

It was the late fifties, Rock and Roll music was just a fad, the Ford T-Bird was in its prime, business was booming and America was partying. And the country was terrified.

We were in full combat in the Cold War. Not a shot was fired, but the Soviet Union and the United States kept their guns aimed at each other, larger and larger guns every day, larger and larger guns every year.

In 1961 the United States aimed the biggest, baddest guns of all. One dozen nuclear warheads on twelve of the largest pop-guns ever made by man. Entrenched in silos around Plattsburg, New York, any one of these monsters could easily destroy a large city. Together, they could waste a continent.

Ultimately, there was no destruction, there was no wasting, and a mere four years later, the entire project was scrapped. All twelve silos and surrounding buildings were emptied and the land sold to private concerns.

The owner of one of the silos plans to convert the upper levels to living units. but most of the dozen facilities are simply being used for their acreage and buildings.

Tony Lesperance owns Advance Design Associates, manufacturer of a new type of photograph frames. He enjoys his work, designing, producing and marketing new products, and, thanks to the end of the Cold War, he enjoys being able to stroll around his offices and manufacturing plant without being shot dead.

Side Facts and Iota

  • The entire missile, firing system and underground operations center were suspended inside the silo with hydraulic gear so they could survive a near nuclear hit and still function.
  • Though the twelve missiles were only available for five years and though at least one expert claims they never would have worked, they were undoubtably a deterent against attacks on the U.S.
  • These missiles were replaced with ones on U.S. submarines

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