717. Junction City, Geary County (KS095)

What a gorgeous creature we’ve got here. A little rough, but nothing a little tender loving care wouldn’t help. As you can see from the fences, they’re already starting the process, so that’s all that really matters. I’m definitely getting more of a Missouri vibe from this, but I also realize that the interplay of smooth and roughhewn stone has become much more obvious. My original plan had been to hit Junction City at a later point on the trip, but sunlight is the best lighting unless you are good at photography, which I am not. But that’s neither here nor there.

I headed in the direction of Fort Riley, the original post of the Ninth and Tenth Cavalry Regiments and the current headquarters of the Big Red One, the First Infantry Division.  That was nice and all, but that wasn’t why I was there.  I parked near a hill overlooking the main gate of the post.  Various pieces of equipment dotted the hillside, and signs admonished all to stay on the broken path ascending the hill.  I felt a little winded as I climbed.  I had, after all, been pretty much driving for two days at this point.  But when I reached the summit, it was all worth it.

Ladies and gentlemen (or however you identify—I don’t mean to be gender assumptive), this is an M65 atomic cannon, known more colloquially as an Atomic Annie. During the Cold War, when mutual assured destruction was more than just diplomatic practice, both the US and the USSR flirted with nuclear artillery. This was America’s entry into that race. At least twenty were built, though only one was ever fired. I had missed a couple of others back in Albuquerque and Fort Sill (the one that was actually fired), but I couldn’t pass this one by. And, as fate would have it, there’s a Virtual up here! I quickly logged it and then began sending pictures to friends who would be envious that they couldn’t see this piece of big iron! I looked out over the post and the city and breathed deeply. This is why we do this. We come to see the things we’ve never seen, and to do the things we’ve never done. If you had told me a few years ago that I’d be sitting on an Atomic Annie and looking out over the Kansas plains after just having driven from South Dakota, I would have said you were insane. And yet, here I was. This is what it’s all about.

The sun was getting low in the sky. I had another stop to make before it got too late, a stop as important as visiting Annette herself here. I bounced down the hill and got back on the highway leading to…

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