Missile Tower Threatdown

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Missile Tower Threatdown – Episode 004

[May Contain Adult Language]

Missile Towers: A Hidden Threat? Could there be mysterious missile towers lurking in your neighborhood? Or watching you while you are unaware on the beach? Most certainly yes. Really it’s not a big deal, they are just historical relics. But hopefully you’ve already clicked play and started this new exciting episode of Midmost Coast.

For this show we assembled a small team of professional missile investigators and headed to Topsail Island to study the remnants of a top secret World War II era missile program. What we found was shocking. Missile towers hiding in neighborhoods, missile houses masquerading as unassuming homes, missile towers even at your dinner table? No. But get off the smartphone and have a conversation with us like a normal person.

Missile Tower 6, just trying to blend in. Photo credit: Sean Gallagher

Missile Tower 6, just trying to blend in. Photo credit: Sean Gallagher

In the 1940’s the U.S. military seized Topsail Island and created facility for the assembly of experimental missiles as well as other hearty support structures, many of which are still standing today. Join us as we travel back in time to unearth the history of the Assembly Building, visit the Missiles and More Museum, and harass innocent towers that are just trying to move on with their lives.

And once again Sean continues his quest to find which sausage egg and cheese biscuit fits into this ornate glass slipper that he claims to have found at the royal ball. But I think he just bought it at a thrift store. Anyway, in this episode he visits the brand new Wilmington breakfast eatery rockstar Cast Iron Kitchen and finds some excuse to not give their sausage biscuit with fruit side a perfect score.

Another delicious sausage egg and cheese biscuit from the brand new Cast Iron Kitchen. Photo credit: Also Sean.

Another delicious sausage egg and cheese biscuit from the brand new Cast Iron Kitchen. Photo credit: Also Sean.

Episode highlights include: Allen pronounces “Topsail” correctly, while Sean enrages the locals with his “straight from the dictionary” take on the word. Allen mixes up Hogan’s Heroes with F-Troop. And was the Soviet missile program called “Operation Tapir”? No.

Best line from the episode: “The coolest kind of tunnel you could have is a skeleton tunnel.”
Worst line from the episode: “Horizontal eating tube.”

Show Summary

Introduction

  • Sean’s Sausage Biscuit with Cheese Variety Hour
  • Missile Towers: The Hidden Threat
  • Beautiful Topsail Island
  • Missile are no longer assembled, only people
  • The Missiles and More Museum
  • Introduction to Operation Bumblebee
  • Tower 3 was a photogenic aging beauty
  • The Great Surf City Feud of 1948

Getting the History Out of the Way

  • Return of the variable timing proximity fuse
  • John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory
  • THE MILITARY SEIZES TOPSAIL ISLAND
  • “Sand Spit”
  • The challenges of beach living

The Legacy of Operation Bumblebee

  • Operation Bumblebee as a response to kamikaze tactics
  • Parallels to the Manhattan Project
  • RAM jets, joysticks, flying stovepipes and RADAR

The Landmarks

  • The explosion-proof Assembly Building
  • The Launching Platform, the Bunker, and the Jolly Roger by C. S. Lewis
  • All those towers
  • The Pontoon Bridge and Sears Landing
  • A Tale of Two Swing Bridges
  • Tower 4, just blending in
  • Tower 3, not long for the world
  • The Tower 8 Segment: Jeffrey’s Tower

The Genealogy of the Assembly Building

  • The brisk market for explosion-proof real estate
  • A gigantic poker chip
  • Caison Bros. Supply Co.
  • Red Barn Steakhouse, a.k.a. The Miracle on Sand
  • Bald Pelican
  • Roy Hill’s Arsenal Centre

Odds and Ends

  • The Sears Landing Restaurant
  • The legend of the secret bunker tunnel

Hit or Missile: A Missile Quiz

  • The grand prize is a Ferrari? I will regret this one day
  • Allen quizzes Sean on trivia related to Operation Bumblebee

Photos and Images

Missile installation outside the museum. Photo credit: Sean Gallagher

Missile installation outside the museum. Photo credit: Sean Gallagher

The Assembly Building. Photo credit: Sean Gallagher

The Assembly Building. Photo credit: Sean Gallagher

The Control Tower is best friends with the water tower. Photo credit: Allen Henderson

The Control Tower is best friends with the water tower. Photo credit: Allen Henderson

Tower 3 looking good. Photo credit: Sean Gallagher

Tower 3 looking good. Photo credit: Sean Gallagher

Tower 3 looking creepy. Photo credit: Allen Henderson

Tower 3 looking creepy. Photo credit: Allen Henderson

A missile display at the Missiles and More Museum. Photo credit: Sean Gallagher

A missile display at the Missiles and More Museum. Photo credit: Sean Gallagher

More of Sean’s photos on Midmost Coast’s Facebook page

A few of Allen’s photos on Midmost Coast’s Facebook page

Links

Operation Bumblebee Links

The Missiles and More Museum’s official site has information about the program and, well, more.

Just way more information about the Talos Missile System than you should ever want.

Operation Bumblebee’s article on Wikipedia.

Still more information on Operation Bumblebee.

Historical Buildings and Locations

Here is a great rundown of the current state of the missile towers, at least as of 2012.

An archived Star News (Morning Star) article from 1986 about the controversial “Jeffrey’s Tower,” or Tower 8.

The Historical Society of Topsail Island and their efforts to preserve the history of the area.

The National Parks Service talks about the historical sites.

It’s got a historical marker and everything.

The Jolly Roger was once home to the bunker and launch site.

The namesake of Sears Landing Grill & Boat Docks: a super cool pirate.

Supplemental Links

The official site for the town of Surf City, North Carolina.

Surf City, New Jersey: The Wrong Surf City.

The Fayetteville Observer investigated the rumors of the secret Topsail tunnel in 2001.

The book Images of America: Topsail Island contains information about the history of the Assembly Building.

Our State magazine on the history of the iconic Topsail Island swing bridge.

WECT reports on the plans for the swing bridge replacement, slated to begin in October 2016.

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