Skip

At the Tunnels of Madness
April 9, 2012 1:41 PM   Subscribe


 
I'm assuming they have flamethrowers.
posted by Artw at 1:46 PM on April 9, 2012


A good idea then is a good idea now.
posted by Trurl at 1:49 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


In a few years, we'll be able to view the exposed ruins on Google maps.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:52 PM on April 9, 2012 [15 favorites]


Now there i think you may have stumbled onto a premise for something. Hmm...
posted by Artw at 1:52 PM on April 9, 2012


The project was abandoned after being discovered by a Soviet probe droid.
posted by thewittyname at 1:53 PM on April 9, 2012 [12 favorites]


Honestly, what could have gone wrong?
posted by Danf at 1:54 PM on April 9, 2012


Of course we did.

Seriously, was there no limit to the ambitions of Cold War paranoia?
posted by gauche at 1:55 PM on April 9, 2012


Well, they didn't use hydrogen bombs to carve out huge ice bubble habitats, so there's that...
posted by Artw at 1:56 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


God, the waste of resources....
posted by odinsdream at 1:58 PM on April 9, 2012


Actually, those tunnels already exist, dug by the Kalmar Union in the 1300s in order to lob spears at the Inuits. Some say there's still a lost colony down there, mining rubies during the day and raiding fishing villages at night...
posted by Huck500 at 2:01 PM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's seemingly no end to the wacky and/or grandiose ideas to which the US military-industrial establishment proposed to apply to nuclear weapons technology in the fifties.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:06 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, you would expect this kind of bonkers only from a Bond villain's secret base.
posted by Iosephus at 2:07 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's seemingly no end to the wacky and/or grandiose ideas to which the US military-industrial establishment proposed to apply to nuclear weapons technology in the fifties.

ICBMs just made the whole thing much less fun.

(though I like the train and air-drop concepts for those)
posted by Artw at 2:10 PM on April 9, 2012



We are a paranoid war mongering society.
posted by notreally at 2:10 PM on April 9, 2012


Can't imagine this happening now - maybe this points to how some things were better then? ( notice, one of the scouts selected was foreign too) On August 30, 1960, two Boy Scouts were selected to serve as "Junior Scientific Aides" at Camp Century, upon invitation of the Army Engineers.  Their job was to assist the engineers and scientists at Camp Century.  The two chosen were Kent Goering, of Neodesha, Kansas and Soren Gregersen of Korsor, Denmark.  Goering and Gregersen were selected from the many top Scouts who applied.  Beginning in October of 1960, they spent five months living and working in the city under the ice
posted by Bwithh at 2:20 PM on April 9, 2012


Camp Century on Youtube. Parts 1,2,3, and 4.
posted by Big_B at 2:25 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well someone is having a bad day.
posted by Meatafoecure at 2:25 PM on April 9, 2012


Also it's somewhat amazing to me (as a physical scientist) that no one chimed in with "hey, um, you know that ice moves right?" Scientists knew that glaciers where moving before the 1960's.
posted by Big_B at 2:29 PM on April 9, 2012


Were moving. They new there glaciers where moving.....
posted by Big_B at 2:31 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Scientists knew that glaciers where moving before the 1960's.

Scientists "know" a lot of things. It doesn't mean we should listen to those pencil-neck geeks. USA! USA!
posted by neuromodulator at 2:32 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Uh, what happened to the nuclear plant?
posted by empath at 2:33 PM on April 9, 2012


Stop. You had me at "network of tunnels under the Greenland ice sheet."

Seriously, any time you're talking about war planning, you get wacky shit, like the U.S. plan to invade the strategic province of Nova Scotia and kill everyone in Halifax with poison gas.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:37 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Scientists "know" a lot of things. It doesn't mean we should listen to those pencil-neck geeks. USA! USA!

Scientists are all "we should try and communicate with the vegetable monster, blah blah blah." They should shut up and let real men get on with the business of electrocuting space-commies.
posted by Artw at 2:40 PM on April 9, 2012 [11 favorites]


Uh, what happened to the nuclear plant?

We have top men working on it now. Top. Men.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:40 PM on April 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Thanks to CPB's Wikipedia link, I finally learned what a "flying column" is. I am a bit disappointed it's not a column of airplanes.
posted by michaelh at 2:43 PM on April 9, 2012


empath: "Uh, what happened to the nuclear plant"

Shut down in 1964.

What's the etiquite on double-post notifications? Is it any different if I posted the original myself?
posted by Xoder at 2:46 PM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


These days wouldn't a launch from a submarine north of Russia make more sense in the context of nuclear weapons strategy?
posted by michaelh at 2:48 PM on April 9, 2012


Can't imagine this happening now - maybe this points to how some things were better then? ( notice, one of the scouts selected was foreign too)

Similar to the BSA Antarctic Scientific Program. The Girl Scouts have had a similar program. (It's unclear in my quick Googling whether these programs are still running.)

Scouting and polar exploration have a long history. James Marr went with Shackleton. Paul Siple went with Byrd. Since this was a cover operation, once you know this history, not quite as surprising that they'd have scouts along.
posted by Jahaza at 2:49 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


These days wouldn't a launch from a submarine north of Russia make more sense in the context of nuclear weapons strategy?

From 1958 onwards really.
posted by Artw at 2:50 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


It started as a scientific project, not a military one:

Deep ice core drilling was a major focus. Physicist B. Lyle Hansen headed the drilling effort. From a tunnel within Camp Century, the bottom of the Greenland Ice Sheet was first reached in 1961. Two initial attemps failed due to shifting ice breaking the drills. The successful 4550 foot core drilling was accomplished by utilizing a thermal drill to 1755 feet followed by an electromechanical drill. For the first time, continuous ice cores representing over 100,000 years of climatic history could be studied. It would be years later that the true value of the ice cores would be widely realized. Much has since been learned from studying the ice geology below Camp Century. The data has been revisited most recently in studies of global warming and as well as research regarding past Earth strikes by meteoroids and comets.

It's not wasteful or paranoid of the military to leverage something that's going on anyway if it provides a measurable advantage.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:59 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]



Seriously, any time you're talking about war planning, you get wacky shit, like the U.S. plan to invade the strategic province of Nova Scotia and kill everyone in Halifax with poison gas.


Everyone keep in mind that it wasn't personal or anything.
posted by codswallop at 3:07 PM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


empath: "Uh, what happened to the nuclear plant?"

Shit, I knew I forgot something....
posted by zarq at 3:07 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cool.
posted by localroger at 3:25 PM on April 9, 2012


*please have oil-painted illustrations of black and white checkered missiles*
posted by circular at 3:33 PM on April 9, 2012


anigbrowl: The Wikipedia link suggests that the scientific effort was a cover for the secret missile base planning, one that apparently fooled even the Danish government. I'm unreasonably disappointed that the Camp Century video was cynical propaganda. I can just picture a smoky room of military Mad Men saying "Sell it as a giant science & engineering adventure. People love that shit".
posted by Popular Ethics at 3:41 PM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


(I just learned through Wikipedia that the US tried to buy Greenland outright in 1946. Crazy)
posted by Popular Ethics at 3:42 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


These days wouldn't a launch from a submarine north of Russia make more sense in the context of nuclear weapons strategy?

May I introduce you to the Barents Sea? In the case of a shooting war between the U.S. and the USSR, this would have been one of the most hotly contested spots on the planet.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:48 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Scientists are all "we should try and communicate with the vegetable monster, blah blah blah." They should shut up and let real men get on with the business of electrocuting space-commies.

I propose a compromise between the men of science and the men of war and just get together and fight those damn alien space-vegtables. Who knows? They might even be communists, too.

But seriously, "The Iceworm plans were eventually deemed impractical and abandoned" is bollocks. No project of this nature is just 'abandoned'. They just triple the budget, change the name, make some improvements, move it to another location, and it becomes a 'black project' with no accountability. At least until the zombies, I mean, "unsuccessful Air Force pilot test subjects and the other unfortunate personnel of bio-lab 8" escape from containment and take control of those old experimental nuclear Avrocars in storage next door. Then we can talk accountability, if there's anybody left alive to point fingers, making whiny demands like "who made the zombies" or "who ordered the experimental fighter jets to be stored next to the deadly zombie prison".
posted by chambers at 4:06 PM on April 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well, they didn't use hydrogen bombs to carve out huge ice bubble habitats, so there's that...

not ice bubbles, no, but salt bubbles were tried.
posted by Popular Ethics at 4:32 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


This was wicked cool until I got to the part where it says:

"During the reactors operational life, a total of 47,078 gallons of radioactive liquid waste was discharged into the icecap."

They pumped radioactive waste into the glacier, because hey, that ice is never gonna melt. Right?
posted by Kevin Street at 4:42 PM on April 9, 2012


Well, what the hell. Look up Project Chariot. The US govt planned to use a hydrogen bomb to create an artificial harbor on the cost of the Chukchi on Alaska's North Slope in the 50s too.

The story of Native Alaskan resistance to that project is compelling too.
posted by spitbull at 4:46 PM on April 9, 2012


Sorry, that was "Operation Chariot," 1958.
posted by spitbull at 4:47 PM on April 9, 2012


Fuck it, why not do it under New York?

A 1969 plan to build a second, nuke-proof Manhattan below New York City
posted by Artw at 4:52 PM on April 9, 2012


...and then use huge biomechanoids to defend it!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:01 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


They are needed to fight the C.H.U.D.s which the fallout creates.
posted by Artw at 5:02 PM on April 9, 2012


Sorry, that was "Operation Chariot," 1958.

Man, I'm just pissed that they sullied the name of one of the most awesome (British) military operations of all time, never mind the whole nukes thing.
posted by LionIndex at 5:14 PM on April 9, 2012


This post is awesome. Thank you very much.

An old guy who rented me a room back in the 90's told me he was stationed in Greenland at a facility where the US Army was storing huge columnar warehouses of food buried deep in the ice.

He told the story of how palettes with skis were air dropped by parachute. It was his job to wait and then snag these palettes before the wind caught the parachutes and pulled them off into the blinding white artic wilderness.

Though I thought his stories were implausible, I was willing to believe them simply because I liked all the fun conclusions you could draw about the world if such a mission did exist. This post makes me think he wasn't full of it. It's great when stuff you want to believe turns out to be likely true. Thank you.

Now, please go and find how these north pole facilities were a cover-up for inter-planetary alien telepathy experiments.
posted by astrobiophysican at 5:25 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can't imagine this happening now - maybe this points to how some things were better then?

The hell? You mean you can't imagine a country that allows this shit to go unchallenged wouldn't be insane enough to do something just as crazy at larger scales?
posted by odinsdream at 5:58 PM on April 9, 2012


The best part to me is that they just used enormous sno-blowers to cut out troughs and then covered them with steel frames. I was imagining that this was some secret tunnel project where a crack squad landed with heat guns and surreptitiously carved a tunnel complex.

Dear Stupid, Arrogant Dumbasses of the Past: You built your secret complex in the open. The Soviets had high-atmosphere surveillance. They must have known it was there. If you had built your snow fort in a back yard, some scientist's mom might have brought you hot cocoa.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:59 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dear Stupid, Arrogant Dumbasses of the Past: You built your secret complex in the open. The Soviets had high-atmosphere surveillance. They must have known it was there.

Did you think they were hiding it from the Soviets?
posted by empath at 6:03 PM on April 9, 2012


@Kevin Street: Nah, they just didn't care. There was a MeFi thread (one of the ones that got me to join) on how they used to dump nuclear waste just out of sight of the Golden Gate bridge.

There solution to "Um, that stuff has been leaking for years" was to make it a wildlife preserve.
posted by Canageek at 6:17 PM on April 9, 2012


Did you think they were hiding it from the Soviets?

What's the point of having a nuclear base under a couple feet of snow if it's not a secret? My fort in 1987 had ice-hardened walls and 100 carefully-packed snowballs, and still some kids managed to kick in the sides and piss holes in it while my friends and I were sleeping. Can you imagine how the concentrated might of the USSR could have trashed it? Ivan totally would have found the granola bars in the hollow ice brick.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:23 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh my god it's a Fallout 3 level.
posted by CarlRossi at 6:30 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dear Stupid, Arrogant Dumbasses of the Past: You built your secret complex in the open. The Soviets had high-atmosphere surveillance. They must have known it was there. If you had built your snow fort in a back yard, some scientist's mom might have brought you hot cocoa.

Man, you armchair generals on the internet are just mind-blowingly smart. If only you could travel back in time and point this out to the Americans in charge then.
posted by indubitable at 6:31 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's seemingly no end to the wacky and/or grandiose ideas to which the US military-industrial establishment proposed to apply to nuclear weapons technology in the fifties.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:06 PM on April 9


Eponysterical?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:45 PM on April 9, 2012


> Dear Stupid, Arrogant Dumbasses of the Past: You built your secret complex in the open. The Soviets had high-atmosphere surveillance.

In the late 1950s? I don't think they had sophisticated enough imaging/detection capability until the early 1960s. And even if they knew of the site and possible uses, it would be one among many they would have to target. The idea was distributed means of deployment.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:56 PM on April 9, 2012


so really the US government is an early-era Bond villain?
posted by ninjew at 7:46 PM on April 9, 2012


The US government isn't a Bond villain, but that whole secret lair thing seems to have been popular back then. Cheyenne Mountain is another hidden base of approximately the same era, and no doubt there are others.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:31 PM on April 9, 2012


@Xoder: Oops. I was relying on one of the links to show up as a duplicate, but I clearly shouldn't have!
posted by Zarkonnen at 10:05 PM on April 9, 2012


During the reactors operational life, a total of 47,078 gallons of radioactive liquid waste was discharged into the icecap.  

Yeah, that's not going to come back to bite us in the ass. Although it would explain Adam sandler's get up and go in the Waterboy.
posted by arcticseal at 5:13 AM on April 10, 2012


"Crazy Swedes"
posted by clavdivs at 6:38 AM on April 10, 2012


arcticseal: It might or it might not. There isn't a defined standard for 'radioactive waste'; it goes all the way from 'kills you on contact' to 'less radioactive then salad dressing'. Same with half-life: It could have isotopes that last a week and then are gone in it, or ones we will be dealing with for ten billion years.

How much damage this did depends on the isotopes present, and the quantities. From the fact this is from a nuclear reactor in the fifties? I'm leaning towards the 'did damage' side then the 'probably nothing' side, since they didn't have any controls back then, doubly so in the US Military. However, a very large amount of that waste could be lightly contaminated water, which would make the actual dangerous level much lower. Sadly, there is no real way to tell.
posted by Canageek at 8:15 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


You raise a good point about the activity level of the waste. I'm inclined to believe that not much in the way of a risk assessment was carried out given the time period. I love the amount of environmental surprises we're storing up for the next generation.
posted by arcticseal at 8:12 PM on April 10, 2012


Secret facilities are usually exempt from any litigation or investigation by the EPA or any other domestic or foreign department/ministry. The Groom Lake/Area 51 facility, for example, allegedly mishandled all sorts of toxic stuff for years, assured that since the facility didn't exist, any possible act that could be considered illegal that was performed there also would not exist.

However, a concerted legal effort eventually led to the EPA being allowed to inspect and monitor the facility (with all reports and data marked as Classified), but only after President Clinton exempted the facility and personnel from any legal accountability and regulation by Executive Order.

IIRC, this was the first public document created by the US government that the facility actually existed.
posted by chambers at 9:34 PM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the Canadian government (or a provincial government) was considering (or did) take the US military to court over the state it left certain secret nuclear bases in Canada after the lease expired.

They are still cleaning up the waste left at Chalk River from those early years. *sigh*
posted by Canageek at 1:58 PM on April 13, 2012


« Older "Refusing to allow such threats to paralyze the...   |   Long Live Ligers Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post