A hole in the ground like no other--the Titan Missile Museum
Visitors flock to southern Arizona for sun and saguaros... ...but for a hole in the ground? Other than the ones on golf courses?
From the 1960's to the 1980's, Tucson was ringed by eighteen steel-and-concrete-reinforced holes in the ground--highly secure shafts in the desert that housed intercontinental ballistic missiles tipped with multi-megaton nuclear bombs. "Peace through Deterrance" was the idea, as the propaganda-phrase goes...
Of the 54 Titan Missile complexes that were scattered around the country, only this one, about 45 minutes south of Tucson, has been preserved and opened to the public. It's a startling reminder of how thin the line was that separated the "Cold War" from "M.A.D."--"mutual assured destruction." It would only have taken 30 minutes from its desert launch for this missile to deliver unimaginable destruction--via a 9 megaton nuclear warhead--up to 6300 miles (10,000km) away...
On a lighter note, some of the filming of one of the Star Trek films took place here. You can visit the subterranean control bunker and staff living quarters, access corridors, and the missile silo itself.
Tours are offered on the hour year-round, with additional tours offered every thirty minutes from January through April. Closed Christmas and Thanksgiving.
Whether you're coming from the left or from the right, politically, the sobering reality of this fusion of human nature and technology is worth going underground for if you're driving down I-19.