The former Atlas E Missile Site, located 25 miles west of Topeka, has been redubbed the Subterra Castle—a turn-key property ready for post-apocalyptic inhabitants with four bedrooms and two bathrooms. The main residence boasts 5,500 square feet of below-ground living space, and another 3,500 square feet in a great room complete with a stage (you’ll have to amuse yourself somehow when civilization is gone). The facility was built in 1961 at a cost over $3 million, or $26.5 million in today’s dollars. It was purchased for only $48,000 in the early 1980s, and has since been renovated complete with solar panels, a diesel generator, and an 11,000-square- foot underground garage with a 47-ton drive-in door. Up on the surface, there’s a separate 750-square-foot house, and the 34-acre property comes with a stocked pond, a chicken coop, and orchards where walnuts, apples, and pears grow.
Though its light weight and long shelf life are ideal for navigating harsh conditions, freeze-dried food is probably most famous as a cultural curiosity: Like many Americans, I discovered it in a museum gift shop, gawking at the styrofoam-like ice cream that astronauts used to have for dessert. More recently, I encountered it at a disaster preparedness convention in Raleigh, North Carolina, where smiling, gray-haired preppers manned tables piled with plastic bags full of vegetables, meats, and stews.
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