Kansas' Converted Missile Silo

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If you want to learn about someplace, you can always pick up a textbook. But if you want to get to know a place, you're going to have to dig a little deeper. And what you find there might be a little strange. The Strange States series will take you on a virtual tour of America to uncover the unusual people, places, things, and events that make this country such a unique place to call home.

This week we’re headed to a state filled with friends of Dorothy, Kansas.

Home Sweet Silo

Kansas is a land of silos. Yes, there are plenty of grain silos in one of the leading states for wheat production, but throughout the 1960s and into the 1990s, Kansas was also home to over 30 Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missile silos. While many of the silos have been decommissioned and imploded to conform to international treaties, Ed and Dianna Peden, self-proclaimed hippies, decided to purchase one of these symbols of Cold War aggression just west of Topeka, Kansas, and make it a home called Subterra Castle

The main living space is a roomy 6500 square feet spread out over 3 levels, all underground. This includes four bedrooms, three sleeping nooks, two full bathrooms, a library, multiple kitchens, and an auditorium, complete with stage and sound equipment. Their garage is 11,000 square feet with a 47-ton door that can withstand a nuclear blast. On the surface, the 34-acre site boasts a cabin with 450 square feet of additional living space, a 1700-foot grass air strip, a half-mile paved driveway, and two observation towers that are accessible from underground.

The Pedens used the knowledge they gained converting their own missile silo and started a business selling other reclaimed sites for prospective homes. Since 1995, 20th Century Castles has sold about 57 former missile sites with more listings added frequently.

If you think the apocalypse is coming sooner rather than later, you might want to consider Luxury Survival Condo instead. This company is rehabbing missile silos in Kansas into multi-level, underground condos that will house 36 to 70 people. You have your choice of layouts, with a half-floor condo designed for 3 to 5 people to live in about 900 square feet of space, while a full-floor condo nets you 1820 square feet and is suitable for 6 to 10 people. All condos feature high-end, stainless steel appliances and Jacuzzi tubs in each bathroom to make life as enjoyable as possible in a 54,000 square foot underground, nuclear-hardened, concrete tube.  Additional amenities include a medical/surgery center, a gym, a home theater, a game room, a library (I wonder if they have Wool in paperback?), and an indoor pool. Each silo has a water filtration system and freeze-dried food to last at least five years, as well as a hydroponic garden for growing more. To keep the power on, the silos can rely on the local grid, a wind turbine, or diesel generator.  Aboveground, the site is completely surrounded by military-grade security systems, as well as “confidential defensive systems both automated and manually operated” should the roving hordes of cannibals come a’knocking. If you’d like to get in on the ground floor of this depressing-yet-exciting real estate opportunity, Silo #1 is completed and already sold out, but Silo #2 is well underway with units still available. A half-floor condo can be had for $1.5 million, or a full-floor facility is $3 million.        

Have the scoop on an unusual person, place or event in your state? Tell me about it on Twitter (@spacemonkeyx) and maybe I’ll include it in a future edition of Strange States!

See all the entries in our Strange States series here.