The Cold War Museum - California

Marysville, California

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Titan ! moving into launch position


Titan 1

The Martin SM-68 Titan 1 missile was one of the United States first long range Intercontinental ballistic missiles.
A lot of people are unaware that our area used to be one of five geographic locations that housed the Titan 1 missile on alert and ready to launch. There were three complexes located in our area. Each one housed three missiles in underground silos. One was located in the Sutter Buttes, another was located in Chico, and finally one was located in Lincoln. They were all part of the 851st Strategic Missile Squadron which was assigned to Beale AFB.
The squadron was activated in April 1962. In May of that same year, a large explosion destroyed a Titan missile at the Chico complex, fortunately no one was hurt and the missile did not detonate. In June of the same year a flash fire occurred at the same complex, this time killing a worker. In September of 1962, the squadron was declared operational and the Strategic Air Command took over. It wasn’t until March 1963 that the Chico complex became operational after all repairs had been made. In May 1963 the Strategic Air Command subjected the unit to an Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI)which the 851st was the first Titan 1 unit to pass.

In January 1965 the first Titan was taken off of alert status, thus began the process of inactivating the Titan missile complexes. By the end of March, the 851st SMS was inactivated.

I learned that it wasn’t until recently that the cleanup of the Sutter Buttes site was finally completed.  It took the government forty years to complete the cleanup of that one site.

All of these sites have been turned over to the prior owners or other private persons since deactivation. The owner of the Sutter Buttes site has been the same owner for many years. They have had over seven hundred people arrested for trespass since the property was returned to them. It has been very difficult having to deal with the constant problems of curiosity seekers and vandals trespassing onto their property. Please remember that these sites are private property and are very dangerous. All trespassers will be prosecuted. These owners were kind enough to allow our government to place these sites on their property, so please honor their service to our country and keep off of their property.
A special Thanks to the Association of Air Force Missileers (AAFM) for the information and pictures they provided. Please check out their site for more information on the different missile programs of the U.S. Air Force.
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