FAULKNER COUNTY, Ark. – It may not have a doorbell 35 feet below the surface, but if home is where the heart is, GT Hill has made his in an unusual place.
“This is the front door to my humble abode!” Hill exclaims.
Hill is now the proud owner of a Titan II missile silo, which was designed to house the largest nuclear weapon in U.S. history.
It was for sale online, but let’s just say it wasn’t a turn-key.
“These walls are four feet thick, so this is steel and concrete,” Hill explains. “This is 6,000 pounds,” referring to his front door, the blast door.
From the 1960’s to the 1980’s, Titan II facilities were on the front lines of the Cold War.
Arkansas was home to 18 silos. All now sit destroyed, buried and abandoned. That is, until eight years ago.
“I started screaming like a small child!,” Hill recalls. GT sprang the past wide open, unknowingly igniting one bombshell discovery after another.
“The first time I came in here, I was overwhelmed,” Hill says. “It was like a shipwreck, because it was under water for 30 plus years.”
Salvaging it all would seem to be a never-ending spiral.
“We get progress done when time and money align,” adds Hill. “You have to have large equipment. You have to be not afraid of dying.”
Years of excavation and reconstruction slowly transformed spaces equipped for combat alert drills into a blank canvas.
“My intention for purchasing it has always been to turn it into a home, and we’re still on track for that,” Hill says. “We have kind of a temporary house top side right now.”
Now, the underground home has 4,000 square feet of usable space.
“It’s really a big excuse to, again as the child that I am, to just have more toys,” Hill continues.
GT’s home office is just off the blast lock entrance in the decontamination room, where a tunnel extends to the silo that housed the warhead.
Across the opposite way, another winding path leads to the main living area, or what was the launch control center. It’s made up of three levels, and has a blast-proof escape hatch. Level 3 is the kitchen and entertainment area. Level 2 is where the actual original launch desk was placed. Level 1, the highest floor, is the master bed and bath area.
All three perfectly circular floors connect and hang from the domed ceiling of the complex. The structure is designed to move, and to withstand a 9 megaton explosion.
“I’m not worried about a nuclear war, but we could get earthquakes,” Hill explains. “So, I want to make sure this can survive.”
Step by step, year after year, GT stays true to his goal.
“Why is a really good question,” says Hill. “Depends on the day. I’ve always kind of done my own thing.”
He’s giving what once was one of America’s most top-secret facilities, a new mission.
“People will come down here,” Hill says. “We’ve had several former Air Force people that worked in these come down here, and they can relive memories.”
It could be called modern archeology, digging up something rare, even strange, but atomically cool.
“I know this is an eccentric project,” says Hill. “I know that it’s odd, but I just really like it.”
GT says he’s always looking to launch the Titan II silo project forward, especially in ways that help cover the costs of renovation. So, in addition to a home, he plans to open the space up for an escape room and meeting spaces. Visit www.titanranch.com for more information.
Titan II Nuclear Missile:
- The Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missile is the largest land-based missile ever deployed by the U.S.
- It was 103 feet tall and 10 feet in diameter
- The Titan II could launch from its underground silo in just 58 seconds; it carried the W-53 warhead with a yield of 9 megatons (9,000,000 tons of TNT)
- It had a range of more than 5,500 miles
- There were 54 Titan II ICBMs deployed in groups of 18 around three Air Force Bases, with the first units coming on alert in early 1963
- They were all decommissioned by 1987
GT and His Silo:
- GT Hill served several years in the US Air Force
- GT’s facility would cost about $90 million dollars to build today
- He paid $90,000 dollars for 10 acres – that’s about $30,000 more than the land value at the time
- GT almost died going in for the first time and discovering lethal explosive methane gas on Level 1 of the Launch Control Center