Inside the Army's secret Cold War ice base

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No, this picture doesn’t show a black and white image of the rebel base on the ice planet Hoth. It’s part of a semi-secret, nuclear-powered U.S. Army base that was built under the Greenland ice cap only 800 miles from the North Pole. The base was officially built to conduct scientific research but the real reason was apparently to test out the feasibility of burying nuclear missiles below the ice under an effort known as Project Iceworm. Remember, Greenland is way closer to Russia than the ICBM fields located in the continental U.S. Rumor has it that the Danish government had no idea that the U.S. was considering installing nuclear missiles on Greenland.

The 200-man base was massive , described by some as an underground city, and consisted of 21 steel-arch covered trenches; the longest of which was 1,100-feet long, 26-feet wide and 26-feet high. These tunnels contained numerous prefabricated buildings that were up to 76-feet long. The base was powered by a portable PM-2A nuclear reactor that produced two megawatts of power for the facility.

In all, the base featured:

Living quarters, a kitchen and mess hall, latrines and showers, a recreation hall and theater, a library and hobby shops, a dispensary, operating room and a ten bed infirmary, a laundry facility, a post exchange, scientific labs, a cold storage warehouse, storage tanks, a communications center, equipment and maintenance shops, supply rooms and storage areas, a nuclear power plant, a standby diesel-electric power plant, administrative buildings, utility buildings, a chapel and a barbershop.

The base operated from 1959 to 1966 when shifting icecap made living there impossible. Today, it’s buried and crushed beneath the Arctic snows.

Click through the jump to see more pictures of the base and to watch a great video on its construction. The last photo shows a map of the base’s location in Greenland.

One of the base’s 16 escape hatches onto the surface of Hoth, I mean Greenland.

One of the base’s 16 escape hatches onto the surface of Hoth, I mean Greenland.

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Under construction

Under construction

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The base water well, dug 150-feet into the ice where a heating coil then melted ice for fresh drinking water.

The base water well, dug 150-feet into the ice where a heating coil then melted ice for fresh drinking water.

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The nuclear reactor

The reactor controls

The reactor controls

Camp Century in 1969, three years after it was abandoned

Camp Century in 1969, three years after it was abandoned

The base's layout

The base’s layout

The location of Camp Century

The location of Camp Century

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