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5 Jul, 2009 06:13

Missile bunkers turned exotic homes all over US

Former U.S. military bunkers turned into private homes by Kansas nuclear mogul.

Just over 40 years ago, a top-security secret bunker in Eskridge, Kansas housed a hydrogen bomb five times more powerful than the ones that killed over 200,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the WWII.

But what was an underground launch pad for a bomb targeting the Soviet Union during the Cold War, has now become an underground home to a regular teacher.

Former history teacher Ed Peden bought the site for only $48,000 fifteen years ago, and has lived here ever since.

“The Atlas E missile lay in this room on its side. It was 75 feet long, and in order to fire it, this entire ceiling rolled back to the West,” Peden shows in one of his halls.

The bomb was held there in a coffin-style launcher during the Cold War and was capable of traveling 6000 miles. If launched, its target would have been the former Soviet Union.

The space is now a garage, housing Ed’s motorcycle and a vintage MG. The Cold War days may be over, but Ed worries the echoes of those times remain. Billions of dollars are already invested into the American defense budget every year, and a US missile shield in Eastern Europe that would cost billions more is still one of America’s plans.

“Our economy has just failed! Meanwhile, though, the defense budget is not being cut dramatically. If we cut our defense budget, we could build homes for many of the homeless in our cities, and so it’s a matter of deciding priorities. Continuing this anti-ballistic shield is more of the same. It’s military expenditures that I think could be spent much better elsewhere,” Peden says.

The launch control area – also the entrance to Ed’s living space – is the quantum leap of the ability to destroy. Peden could operate it with his eyes shut.

The remains of the Cold War have turned Ed into a real estate mogul. He has been finding and selling sites in the U.S for 13 years, and says it’s the smartest thing he has ever done. Almost fifty locations have already been sold.

“They couldn’t find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but we did have one here in our house, and in the United States there are hundreds, hundreds of these missile sights. We have thousands of warheads here. Many thousands of warheads,” Peden says.

Living in bunker makes Peden think a lot about the fears of the Cold War. He says the American government is still trying to hold its people in fear, and dominate the world.

A 47-ton door leads to where a 4-megaton warhead used to be kept – all ready for action upon command. But for Ed and his wife Dianna, this is a place of peace. They have turned a symbol of fear into a place of inspiration and wish the rest of the world would do the same.