New book documents McPherson’s role in missile program

Chad Frey believes this photo, taken in the 1960s, is of an Atlas F Missle being placed in its silo just east of McPherson.

McPherson, and McPherson College, played a roll in the cold war — a role documented in a new book coming out soon.

The Cold War was a period of political hostility that existed between the Soviet bloc countries and the US-led Western powers from 1945 to 1990.

One of 12 Atlas F ICBM sites — a cold war ballistic missile — was near McPherson. That site drew attention at the time.

“McPherson College students protested at the McPherson Atlas F site, and another group of students vandalized an Atlas E site, also in Kansas,” said author Landrey Brewer, whose book “Cold War Kansas” will publish Monday.

Schilling AFB was the hub for 12 Atlas F intercontinental ballistic missile launch sites between 1962 and 1965. Each site cost millions to build and housed an Atlas F ICBM that, if launched, would have arrived in the Soviet Union in less than an hour, delivering a nuclear warhead more than 200 times more powerful than the atomic bombs that the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.

Schilling Air Force Base Atlas missile silos were constructed near Bennington, Abilene, Chapman, Carlton, Mitchel, Kanopolis, Wilson, Beverly, Tescott, Galsco and Minneapolis in addition to McPherson.

According to the book, Cold War Kansas, The Salina Journal covered a protest by McPherson College students in it’s Friday, May 6, 1960. That protest was at an Atlas F site, using signs inscribed with “Love, Not Missiles,” and “Love Is the Weapon for Peace.”

According to Brewer’s book, Paul H. Stern, one of the protest group’s three leaders emphasized that the protesters were “not acting on behalf of the college” and were “protesting worldwide nuclear armaments and hoped to effect global peace.”

According to, the silo was activated April 1, 1961, and deactivated on June 25, 1965. The silo complex, which is about 6.3 acres, was once surrounded by guard stations and a high barbed wire fence.

The silo complex, which is about 6.3 acres, was once surrounded by guard stations and a high barbed wire fence.

Brewer’s book will publish on Monday, documenting the history of the cold war in Kansas.

Kansas played an role in the Cold War. Forbes Air Force Base. Topeka, operated nine Atlas E intercontinental ballistic missile launch sites. Schilling Air Force Base, Salina, was the hub for twelve Atlas F ICBMs. McConnell Air Force Base operated eighteen Titan II ICBMs.

The McPherson missile site was east of the city along Pueblo Road, just east of the current McPherson Area Solid Waste facility.

A Kansas State University engineering professor converted a discarded Union Pacific Railroad water tank into his family’s backyard fallout shelter. A United States president from Kansas faced several nuclear war scares as the Cold War moved into the thermonuclear age. Landry Brewer tells the fascinating story of highest-level national strategy and how everyday Kansans lived with threats to their way of life.

Brewer is Bernhardt Assistant Professor of History for Southwestern Oklahoma State University and teaches at the Sayre campus. Brewer is also the author of Cold War Oklahoma. believes this is a photo of an Atlas F missle being delivered to Schilling Airforce Base silo 550-5, McPherson.