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Nuke on a Mountain

A cache by darth gader Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 8/3/2009
3.5 out of 5
3.5 out of 5

Size: Size: other (other)

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Geocache Description:

The cache is near a decommissioned USAF radar station at about 6,500 feet near Warren Peak about 8 miles north of Sundance, WY. Access requires about 1/4 mile hike or 4-Wheel drive on fairly steep, rocky terrain.

The cache is one of the plastic simulated rocks with a scroll log and a small pencil. It is hidden among real rocks near the boundary fence for the abandoned radar station. To access the area, take US Hwy 14 northwest from the town of Sundance, WY. Turn right in about 1.5 miles on to the paved road leading to Black Hills National Forest. Continue on this road for about 6 miles, past the small development called Vista West and USFS Reuter Campground to the summit of Warren Peak. This is the highest point in the so-called Bearlodge Mountains, the Wyoming portion of the Black Hills. There is a paved road that accessed the radar site from the south but the preferred is a fairly steep 4-Wheel road on the north that goes to a cattle tank on the west of the site. (The route from the paved entrance requires crossing a fence and a longer walk. The distance is shorter from the north and there is no fence to climb from that direction. From either of these points, geocachers will have to walk 100 yards or more across a rocky meadow to find the cache. It's a beautiful spot with great views in several directions, including Devils Tower and the Missouri Buttes to the north. It will probably be inaccessible in the winter.

In the height of the Cold War, to provide warning of potential air or rocket attacks from the Soviet Union, the US and Canadian military established a network of radar stations as part of North American Air Defense Command (NORAD). Many of these radar sites were in extremely remote locations (like the northern edges of Alaska and Canada) where normal utilities, roads and other infrastructure did not exist. Moreover, these stations needed to be self-contained. The Air Force also wanted some of them to be "portable" so that they could be moved and installed at any point on the globe where they were needed. A problem the Air Force needed to overcome was how to provide reliable electrical power to these stations. One novel solution was to develop small nuclear generators. A prototype of such a nuclear powered radar station was installed on Warren Peak in 1961. It was called PM-1 (Portable Medium Power Plant). The station was operated by the 731st Radar Squadron as part of Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City. PM-1 had two cores that contained about 60 pounds of Uranium 235 shielded and cooled by 20 feet of water. The cores were somewhat smaller than a standard 55 gallon drum but they could generate 1,000 kw of power on a sustained basis. The Air Force estimated that using nuclear instead of fossil fuel saved about 1.1 million gallons of fuel oil per year, and thereby solved a major logistical problem. Moreover, the site was composed of 16 prefabricated sections that could be disassembled, transported, reassembled and made ready for operations within 90 days. The cores were removed when the site was decommissioned in 1968. One was buried in a facility for nuclear waste and the other was sent to power the McMurdo Sound base in Antarctica. The "Vista West" subdivision at the base of Warren Peak is actually what remains of the housing, administrative and service buildings of the former rader base that has now been turned over to civilian control.

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Ybbx pnershyyl nzbat gur gnyyvf ohg qba'g pyvzo gur srapr

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)



64 Logged Visits

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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum

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