About Tom French

Tom French splits his time between the Adirondacks and the Thousand Islands from his home in Potsdam. More information about his writing can be found at Tom-French.net.

Reader Interactions


    • Tom French says

      Hello Randall — Thanks for reading and commenting. As the picture shows, the central funnel in the LCC was filled with sand. When released, it was supposed to allow the missileers a means of escape — along with a sledge hammer to break through the nuclear glass. Fortunately, whether it would work was never tested. If you have other information, please share.

  1. Lori Phelps says

    What a fascinating story, Tom. It is interesting to know that we
    had facilities such as these in place.

    • Tom French says

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Lori. And to think all those years growing up in the North Country we thought we might just be a little isolated from the apocalypse! Oh yeah, I forgot, Fort Drum was only 20 miles away. At least the zombies couldn’t get us.

  2. william hill says

    What a great article Tom! You’ve shed some light on a piece of little-known ( but yet hugely important) Adirondack history. Keep up the fine work!

    • Tom French says

      Thanks William! I’ve known about the silos since the 1990s — mostly because of the historic marker at the Vermont tourist center on the other side of the Rouses Point Bridge. But it’s amazing how many people are unaware of this Cold War Adirondack History, and how close they are to many Adirondack landmarks. I’m glad to help illuminate that history — even if it is in a jaw-dropping kind-of-way.

      Visitors can see the blast doors up close and personal by driving the quarter mile down Missile Base Road, which is adjacent to the information center.

  3. Susan N says

    I agree with the positive comments above; this story was fascinating! Is there a longer version in the works?

    • Tom French says

      Hello Susan — thanks for reading and commenting. No longer story in the works at this point, but these relics of the Cold War will outlast us all. I’m sure future writers will be writing about them for centuries! If you have any specific questions, please ask and I will do my best to answer. Some details did not make the final cut.

  4. Gary mahoney says

    Great article. I was stationed at Pafb from Oct 1962 to Aug 1966. When I arrived the Cuban missile crisis was developing. I was put in charge of snow removal at the chazy lake(Dannemora), Brainardsville and Ellenberg missile sites.during the summer I was in the masonry shop and I sometimes was sent down into the silos to repair water leaks with hydraulic cement.I was probably in 9 of the 12 silos.l seem to recall the escape hatch being in the ceiling of the stairwell.could be wrong about that.there were 8 floors and a sump or basement where the huge sump pumps were located. Been down there many times. Scary place for an eighteen year old kid.worked at the sites off and on till they phased them out.I believe sometime in late 1964 or early1965.on an interesting note l live in Pennsylvania and I recently discovered relatives living on the adjoining property of one of my old sites.I have since visited many of the sites including Vermont.It seems like a lot of the townships use these for storage and repair for their communities I also visited the base I had not been back too since 1966. Wow! It was a great experience.your great article has stirred up many pleasant memories

    • Tom French says

      Hello Gary — thanks for reading and commenting. You add some colorful details to the history!

      Memory can be strange, but based on my tours, and as you can see in the picture, the “escape hatch” from the LCC was through the funnel structure, so it was in the ceiling in a certain way. The whole facility was designed to withstand a one-megaton hit within a half mile. They were designed before reliable radar would allow detection of an incoming missile — so the whole plan was to potentially launch after being hit. Perhaps there were other means of escape for the missileers, as such, though once they launched their missile, they were sort of on their own.

      You are also correct regarding the dates. They were “operational” beginning in the early 60s and were decommissioned by 1965. In my research, many people suggested they were obsolete before even coming on line.

      I’m glad your memories were pleasant. As a child of Duck & Cover Drills, I’m just glad we all survived it : )

    • Christine Cayea says

      My husband Floyd Cayea was the concrete foreman on the mussel sites. He pored the caps on all of them. Wish he was still alive he would of loved to have read this

  5. Mike H says

    Love this article. As a kid growing up near Griffiss AFB in Rome, there were always rumors about secret missle silos at the facility – but then people would say “no the silos are somewhere farther up north”. Somehow I never knew until recently that there actually were silos in the ADK park. Fascinating stuff!

    • Tom French says

      Hello Mike — Thanks for reading and commenting. People often forget that the Adirondack Park was surrounded by military facilities, between Griffiss, Fort Drum, and Plattsburgh (and others near Albany). We may think we live in an isolated place, but the real world is only an hour away. Okay, maybe two.

  6. Matt McKeever, RN says

    Thanks for a great story, Tom! I had the pleasure of touring the Lewis site, which has been wonderfully restored by its former owner. I plan to get out to the Vermont and Champlain sites this Summer. A lot of good information in your article! Well done , sir!

    • Tom French says

      Hello Matt — Thanks for reading and commenting. Adirondack Architectural Heritage is sponsoring a tour of the Lewis site this summer. You can find more information here: https://aarch.org/

  7. Edward Hanlon says

    Tom, Excellent article. I was with the 556th Stategic Missile Squadron Atlas “F” ICBM at Plattsburgh in 1965 when they were being decommissioned. It was argued they were “obsolete” by the time they came on line. To some extent, there is a bit of truth there, but they were also built as a nuclear deterrent which proved to be correct. The Atlas “D”, “E”, and “F” came as a complete surprise to the Russians. They played an important role in the Cuban Crisis. We had tactical missiles which didn’t have the range; the Russians had tactical missiles which didn’t have range. Then, they found out we had ICBM’s which could hit any part of Russia. In addition, the squadron at Plattsburgh was the only ICBM squadron east of the Mississippi and in a severe winter climate. This extended their range.
    During normal launch training exercises, none of the missiles worked properly, but if the order had come, every single one of them would have launched and hit their targets.
    Their concept never was really obsolete; the Saturn moon rocket is a version of the Atlas. It’s like the relationship between the Boeing 787 and the Boeing 707.

    • Tom French says

      Hello Edward — Thanks for adding more interesting information to the story of the silos in the Adirondacks. More than one of my sources also confirmed that they were obsolete by the time they came online. One source even suggested they may have been obsolete before shovels hit the ground, but as you point out, it was also about deterrence and an arms race.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *