Monday, December 10, 2012

Unique Gift Ideas for 2012- What Says "Merry Christmas" Better Than a Decomissioned Nuclear Missile Silo?

I'll be the first to admit, I tend to be a tad lazy when it comes to Christmas shopping, especially since the advent of all those retail gift cards you see in just about any given grocery store these days. This isn't because I don't care about the intended recipients of the aforementioned gift cards, but rather I trust them to be able to pick out something for themselves better than I could.

But for those of you who want a little something that's outside the card box, how does the gift of a decomissioned US Air Force anti-ballistic missile facility on the high plains with architechture straight out of Blade Runner strike you?

From here, the United States Air Force kept watch for Soviet missiles and runaway replicants- photo
The 400+ acre Stanley Mickelsen Safeguard Complex in Cavalier County North Dakota is listed at more than 400 acres and could be described as a Doomsday Prepper's dream come true.

According to the GSA auction site:
The Stanley Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (SRMSC) is an Anti-Ballistic Missile complex which was developed to preserve the United States’ second strike capability against Soviet nuclear missile attacks. The property is located in North Dakota and was the United States’ first Anti-Ballistic Nuclear Missile Defense System. The SRMSC became operational in 1975 and was deactivated in 1976.
An unofficial website dedicated to the history of the facility says that despite being fully operational for less than a year, the facilities Perimeter Acquisition Radar was still used as part of the Air Force's space tracking and early warning system while the rest of the compund fell into caretaker status and came under command of the US Army's Space & Missile Defence Command. Accoring to the GSA auction website, those properties are being auctioned off seperately.

Personally, I think I'm more of a derelict former Coast Guard signal station on a remote Maine island kind of guy. If you feel as though the 400+ acre site on the Dakota high plains might be a bit too much, then perhaps you could go back to my 2010 Christmas gift idea of getting that special someone their own ghost town. Apparently both Otira, New Zealand and Currie, Nevada are still available.

Nevada Northern Railway depot at Currie, NV- Now with 99.9% less rail traffic, although that could be changing soon. Landing a Day photo

Its also worth pointing out that the former Nevada Northern line through Currie has actually seen a train since the 1999 shutdown of BHP Nevada railway- the most recent freight operator of the line. In late 2009, the Nevada Northern Railway museum- which owns the 118-mile right of way- was approached by S&S Rail services about storing freight cars on the northern portion of the line. Although an estimated 400 cars were stored along the Nevada Northern line between Shafter and Currie [S&S brought in their own locomotive for that- NANESB!] there is still a 65-mile gap between Currie and the current northern end of the Nevada Northern operations out of East Ely, NV. The re-opening of the copper mines in Ely may also spur the eventual reopening of the entire Nevada Northern line, meaning that while Currie may still be a ghost town, the rails running through it would see trains on a regular basis.

Of course, a number of ghost towns have come on the open market since then- including a few just down the road (kinda) from Currie.

Along US rotue 6 and the former Rio Grande Denver to Salt Lake City mainline is the town of Woodside, UT that went on the market in August. The town features 'free range llamas', a cold-water geyser that was once a tourist attraction and was also used for filming a few scenes from the 1991 film Thelma & Louise.
Woodside got its start in 1881. It was called Lower Crossing then and was used by the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad as a water stop.

The town grew to include several stores, a blacksmith shop and even a school. The population peaked around 1920, when about 300 people called Woodside home.

Then the railroad consolidated its operations, moving 45 miles northwest to Helper in Carbon County.

"When the railroad had no more use for (Woodside), it was just kind of doomed to a slow death," said Edward Geary, a retired BYU professor and the author of "A History of Emery County."

The town got a brief reprieve in the late 1930s when the highway was built and a cold water geyser — created decades earlier by railroad workers seeking fresh water for their steam engines — became a minor sensation with tourists.

"They had signs up and down the highway and they built up a board fence so you couldn't see it without paying admission and going inside," Geary said, noting that at one time the so-called "Roadside Geyser" was blasting a column of water about 75 feet in the air every 40 minutes.

"As I recall, it was just about the time they invested money in it, that it petered out," he said. "I think probably by 1970, there were no full time residents at all in Woodside."
The entire town is listed for sale through Bridge Realty in Price, UT and the current asking price is just under $4 million.

Author and ghost town historian Bruce A Raisch has pointed out that although a few ghost towns (or sparsely populated rural towns) have been sold to foreign nationals within the last year or so, there are still a number of ghost towns on the market including Rocky Bar, ID and Okaton, SD.

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