Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Top 5 Favorite Locations

The colder months have fallen upon Colorado, and although that will not keep me from exploring, it definitely isn't my preferred weather to explore in either.   The holiday season has also befallen us, and that means busy times, long hours at work and visiting with the family, which means little time to get out and explore.  So, with that being said, I have decided to compile a list of my top 5 favorite locations that I have explored.

And, without further ado, here you go:

5. Magnolia Mill

One of my latest posts here was from my return trip to the magnificent and wonderful Magnolia Mill. Originally constructed in the 1860's, the current mill was built in 1910 to replace the original, which was lost to a fire.  The mill processed some of the richest ore in the region, processing millions of dollars of gold and silver.   Due to it's remote location deep in the Rocky Mountains, few people visit which means that the mill is in very good condition and has seen very little vandalism.  Hopefully the mill will avoid the fate of time and the hands of vandals for many years to come.
Video from my exploration: Urbex Colorado Episode 10- Magnolia Mill

4. Atlas D Missile Base

Back in April, I joined up with my best friend Dillon and our good friend Perspective Images Photography for an urbex day trip.  Leaving early in the morning and not returning till late in the evening, we traveled close to 200 miles through two states and hit up a multitude of abandoned locations.  The last location we visited has become one of my all time favorite spots. An abandoned Atlas D missile base.
This particular base, Site B of the 565th SMS, was operated by F.E. Warren AFB located out of Cheyenne, WY.  This base was built in a 3x3 configuration: three launchers and one combined guidance control/launch facility constitutes the complex. The missiles were housed horizontally above ground in "coffin style" complexes.  In order to launch, the 400 ton overhead door was rolled back and the missile would be raised to a vertical position. The missile would then be fueled and ready to launch. 
The original Atlas missile was designed in the late 1950s to be used as an intercontinental ballistic missile(ICBM) capable of delivering a nuclear warhead thousands of miles away.  The Atlas missiles only saw brief service as ICBMs, and the last squadron was taken off operational alert in 1965, though their use in the "Space Race" has been huge.  From 1962 to 1963, Atlas boosters launched the first four American astronauts to orbit the Earth. Various Atlas II models were launched 63 times between 1991 and 2004. There were only six launches of the Atlas III, all between 2000 and 2005. The Atlas V is still in service, with launches planned until 2020.
Missiles were retired and removed in September 1964 in favor of the more advanced LGM-25C Titan II.  The squadron was inactivated on 25 March 1965, and the missile sites were later sold off to private ownership after demilitarization. 

3. Longmont Sugar Mill

The Longmont Sugar Mill.  One of Colorado's iconic and most well known urbex locations.  And not the easiest place to explore either.   A sprawling complex that stands sentry over the city of Longmont, the site takes up 17.5 acres.  
Excerpt from Colorado Magazine Online: "Longmont, Colorado was home to one of the Great Western Sugar Companies sugar mills, where sugar beets were processed into refined sugar. The Longmont mill was built in 1905 and remained in use until 1980. The mill had its own rail yard and used a small steam locomotive to move railroad cars around the plant. Later, a small diesel engine was employed. Today the mill stand vacant and abandoned." 
According to owner Dick Thomas, there are no foreseeable plans in the future to do anything to the site.
Though a major attraction to those looking for adventure, bewarned.  The mill is a major health and safety risk(earlier this year a section of the brick wall collapsed) and the site is rife with asbestos.  If that doesn't stop you, keep in mind that the owners are on site often scrapping metal, and the adjacent businesses have been notified to alert law enforcement should they see anyone on property.

2. LA88 Nike Missile Base

What do you do when jet aircraft enter the war scene? You build missiles that can intercept them.  Proposed in 1944 to counter the threat of jet aircraft, Project Nike saw a total of 145 missile batteries commissioned to provide last ditch anti aircraft defense for major cities and military installation in the US.  When the US entered the Cold War, the Nike missiles turned their eyes towards protecting the mainland from Soviet nuclear missiles.  
Nike site LA-88, Oat Mountain, Chatsworth was one of 16 Nike missile sites located around Los Angeles to provide a 360 degree defense against nuclear laden Soviet bombers. Part of a steel curtain air defense, the bases motto was, "If it flies, it dies." The base consisted of an administration area and launcher area, with three underground launchers. 
LA-88 came online for full time duty on August 26, 1956, and served for 18 years before being decomissioned in 1974.
LA-88 was the first Nike base in the Los Angeles area to employ K9 sentry dogs to patrol the facility. 
LA-88 was also the first base in the Los Angeles area to convert to "Hurcules" nuclear war-headed missiles for use alongside earlier "Ajax" missiles, as a dual missile site with the extended range required for anti-enemy long range missile protetction. 
A wildfire in 1981 gutted and destroyed most of the buildings, and the grounds are currently used by local SWAT agencies for training and K9 training.
Here is a link with excellent information on the Nike missiles and this base: http://nikemissile.org/LA88/LA88.shtml

1. Titan 2B Missile Base

Out of all of Colorado's urbex spots, none can compare to the might and power of the Titan missile bases.   
The Titan missiles were ICBMs that stood ready to launch nuclear warheads far away.  Built during the Cold War, they were a formidable front line deterrent.  
An excerpt from missilebases.com: "The Titan I was the largest and most hardened of the first generation ICBM bases. Active from 1961-1965, they were to be used as our last deterrent and were capable of supporting 150 personnel for 30 days in a nuclear war scenario. Only 18 such sites were built at the incredible cost of $170 million dollars each"
Each base housed three missiles, each with it's own silo, multi-level maintenance bay and fuel terminal. A generator room, communications rooms and control room all served to keep the missiles at ready should the word ever sound.  
Though long abandoned, the missile bases have become a mecca for urban explorers. Their shear size and incredible history have made them one of the premier locations for urban explorers. I will never forget my times spent at this base.
Link for more reading: http://www.missilebases.com/#!titan-i/c1ypw

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Roggen, Revisited

Roggen.  Founded on May 26 of 1908, is a small, unincorporated community located in north eastern Colorado.  Information on the town is as scarce as the number of residents that live there.  About half the town is abandoned, though most of the houses are well boarded up and inaccessible.
There are two main buildings that are active here, the Roggen grain silos and the Roggen Telephone Cooperative Company building. The folks at the Roggen Telephone Cooperative Company do keep an eye out for trespassers around the town.  Thankfully we had just finished exploring and were just walking around the town when one of the employees walked by and told us "If you're taking photos, shoot from the outside. Don't go into any buildings."
The main attraction in this town for urban explorers are two buildings, the abandoned C&J Auto Shop and the derelict Prairie Lodge Motel.   Though not the most extravagant or awe inspiring places, they are iconic to Colorado's urbex scene and a fun and easy exploration.
Roggen will always hold a special spot in my heart as it was the first location I explored after starting Urbex Colorado and only the second place I ever went urban exploring at.  Was very happy to spend an afternoon exploring the town with Perspective Images Photography and Hanging Negatives Photography.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Majestic Magnolia

High up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado lie the remains of hundreds of ghost towns and mining sites.  Though many of these locations have faded away and been lost to time, there are a few that still stand.  And the Magnolia Mill is far and away one of the more incredible locations.
The current Magnolia Mill was built in 1930 to replace the original mill built in the 1860's used to process ore from the original gold rushes.  The Magnolia was one of six different mills built to handle the ore from multiple mines around the area.
The gold rush prompted the creation of the town of Montgomery in 1861, built to house the miners and mill workers.  At it's height, the town housed over 1,000 residents, 150 cabins, hotels, five sawmills and the largest dance hall in the region.   The townspeople named the 14,000 foot mountain nearby Mt. Lincoln, in honor of the current President.  They even sent him a bar of gold from the Montgomery Mine. As the gold rush died down in the late 1860's, the townspeople moved away to nearby towns.  In 1890, Colorado Springs bought the land and flooded the area to create the Montgomery Reservoir to supply the city with water.  Most of the town of Montgomery now resides below the blue waters of Montgomery Reservoir.
The Magnolia is one of the few reminders of the once busy and productive mining operations in the area.  Surprisingly, the mill is in a very well preserved state.  The roof has collapsed in spots and most of the interior equipment has been hauled off.  The long covered ore "walkway"  likely had a long continous rubberized canvas conveyor belt in it, though now long gone, bringing crushed rock up into the storage area in the main section of the mill.  The ore would then be ground up into a fairly fine sand with a series of ball mills.
Such an amazing piece of Colorado history. This was my second time visiting this locations and this will always be one of my favorite places in the state.

Not my photo but a look at the Magnolia from back in 1960. Courtesy of the Denver Public Library.