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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Albany in Shackelford County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
 

Cold War Hardline Communications Pit

1961 - 1965

 
 
Cold War Hardline Communications Pit Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, July 1, 2017
1. Cold War Hardline Communications Pit Marker
Inscription. In 1961, Dyess Air Force Base, of Abilene, Texas, was one of six United States Air Force bases selected to host the Atlas F Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) system. Twelve launch sites, complete with launch control centers and silos, were constructed in a pattern that encircled Abilene. This was a massive construction project that bolstered military defense during the Cold War and established the baseís legacy in Texas and U.S. history. Dyess AFB was the only site selected in Texas. The silos could house and protect the Atlas F missile, Americaís first operational ICBM, from all but a direct nuclear strike.

Beneath this concrete block is what remains of one of the many, now abandoned, underground “hardline communications pits.” These pits, each about 6-feet deep, contained a sophisticated system of “hardline” communications cables and tunnels that connected the 12 silos to each other and to the control center at Dyess AFB. The process of protecting the missiles, their subterranean launch complexes, and the connecting communications infrastructure from physical and electronic attack, was referred to as “hardening”. The “hardline” network was protected from electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that could be generated from a Soviet nuclear attack. However, failure of the network
Cold War Hardline Communications Pit Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, July 1, 2017
2. Cold War Hardline Communications Pit Marker
to “harden” could result in EMP entering the sites and disabling all electronics.

The 12 silos formed a 35-mile radius around Dyess AFB. Each silo was 180-feet deep and 52-feet wide and contained an 85-foot Atlas missile built by General Dynamics. Each missile carried a 4.5 megaton nuclear warhead that had the capability of reaching Russia in approximately 30 minutes.

Though the Base never had to engage its 12 missiles, highly-trained personnel of the Strategic Air Commandís 578th Strategic Missile Squadron, who operated the system beginning in 1962, were always prepared for action. All silos were armed and prepared to launch during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. The Atlas ICBM mission was terminated by the Air Force in 1965, and the underground silos and communications pits were salvaged and abandoned.
 
Erected by Chimney Creek Ranch.
 
Location. 32° 43.104′ N, 99° 30.291′ W. Marker is near Albany, Texas, in Shackelford County. Marker is on Chimney Creek Ranch Road (County Road 220) one mile south of U.S. 180, on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Albany TX 76430, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 12 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Smith's Station
Marker as viewed from Chimney Creek Ranch Road image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, July 1, 2017
3. Marker as viewed from Chimney Creek Ranch Road
(approx. 1.4 miles away); The Cable Tool Oil Field (approx. 1.4 miles away); Butterfield Overland Mail (approx. 1.4 miles away); Bud Matthews Switch of the Texas Central Railway (approx. 1.4 miles away); Lueders Cemetery (approx. 7.4 miles away); Big Country Baptist Assembly (approx. 8 miles away); Fort Phantom Hill (approx. 11.4 miles away); a different marker also named Fort Phantom Hill (approx. 11.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Albany.
 
More about this marker. The marker is set in a block of limestone, which is common in this region of Texas.
 
Categories. CommunicationsWar, Cold
 
View to Southwest Along Chimney Creek Ranch Road image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, July 1, 2017
4. View to Southwest Along Chimney Creek Ranch Road
Marker is on left (east) side of road
Hardline Communications Pit image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, July 1, 2017
5. Hardline Communications Pit
Pit is located 10 feet southeast of the marker
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 8, 2017. This page originally submitted on July 8, 2017, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. This page has been viewed 82 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on July 8, 2017, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas.
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