Did you know that in addition to its skyscrapers, museums, and landmarks, New York is home to a secret nuclear complex that is now an underground ghost town? During the Cold War, the Clarksville-based facility was a component of the US nuclear weapons program. Approximately one-third of the United States’ nuclear arsenal was once stored in this facility, one of the nation’s 13 nuclear weapons storage facilities. The Soviet Union, which placed it as high as No. 3 on its list of locations to destroy in the event of a nuclear war, also targeted it.
The History of Clarksville Base
In 1948, the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project (AFSWP) and the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) collaborated to create Clarksville Base. It was constructed on an old Army base that saw action in World War II as a camp for prisoners of war. The nuclear weapons were assembled and stored in the Q part of the site, while the administration and support facilities were housed in the A area. The Q area was defended by armed guards, double fencing, and a number of security features, including cameras, alarms, and dogs. Though less secure, the A sector was still only accessible by approved individuals.
Both military and civilian employees worked at the base, and they were subject to stringent guidelines for handling nuclear weapons. They also had to keep a tight lid on things because the base’s location and presence were under wraps. The laborers commuted daily to the base from surrounding communities like Clarksville and Hopkinsville.
Throughout its 20-year existence, which spanned 1948 to 1968, the site was used to store and build a variety of nuclear weapons, including bombs, warheads, and missiles. While some of the weapons were held in reserve, others were moved to different locations for use. The weapons were also tested, maintained, and inspected by the base.
The Closure and Abandonment of Clarksville Base
The U.S. government made the decision to reduce and consolidate its nuclear weapons stockpile in the late 1960s due to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. One of the locations that was chosen for closure was Clarksville Base since it was thought to be unnecessary and redundant. The nuclear weapons were taken out of the site and deployed to other places when it was formally declared inactive in 1968. After then, the base was given to the Army, who utilized it for training, storage, and disposal, among other things. In addition, the Army filled in parts of the tunnels and bunkers and destroyed some of the buildings and other infrastructure.
The Army did not, however, entirely eradicate or eliminate every hint of the base’s nuclear heritage. A large number of the base’s infrastructure, including the roads, bridges, gates, fences, and signage, remained intact. While most of the tunnels and bunkers were dark and empty, some of them could still be accessed. The base turned into a tunnel ghost town that drew in urban explorers, history aficionados, and inquisitive explorers.
The Legacy and Future of Clarksville Base
A unique and fascinating location, Clarksville Base provides a window into the past and mysteries of the Cold War. It also serves as a reminder of the risks and difficulties posed by nuclear weapons as well as the necessity of international harmony and collaboration. The base is currently governed by the Army and is a part of the Fort Campbell Military Reservation. The Army intends to offer the site to the public for tours and educational purposes in addition to preserving and restoring a few of the historic buildings and infrastructure. In order to guard against any illegal entry or damage, the Army also intends to tidy up and safeguard the location. Anyone who wants to visit the base must get permission and abide by the rules and restrictions because it is still a sensitive and restricted area.
A secret nuclear plant in New York, Clarksville Base is now an underground town gone silent. It was an important and tactical component of the American nuclear weapons development and contributed significantly to the Cold War. It should be safeguarded and conserved for future generations because it is a priceless and fascinating historical and cultural heritage.