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Abandoned – The ‘Desertron’ Super Collider, Texas

A story about broken dreams and insane government spending

In the 1980s the Department of Energy began designing what would have been the largest and most energetic particle accelerator in the world.

America’s Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) would have broken records currently held by the large Hadron Collider at CERN. Upon completion it would have been 51 miles in length and capable of particle smashing energy levels of 20 TeV per proton. (Put into context, the LHC is capable of only 8 TeV per proton).

Construction actually began on the SSC in Waxahachie, Texas back in 1991. Budget cuts however, meant that the entire project was abruptly cancelled in 1993. By that time 2 billion dollars had already been spent, and the proposed bill for finishing construction had escalated to a total of 12 billion dollars.

A lot of explanations have been put forward for the abandoning the huge project, the end of the Cold War with Russia is one of them, also the fact that the amount spent on the SCC was equal to the budget for the United States’ part of the the International Space Station, It seemed – rightfully so – a bit silly to spend the same insane amount on the SSC as on the ISS.

What is left is an example of early 90’s utilitarian scientific building design and over 14 miles of underground tunnel network, slowly rotting into the Texas prairie. The complex has since been labelled ‘Desertron’ for reasons that do not need explaining. For the last 24 years the complex has seen very little activity.

Apart from the large underground generators, the majority of the installed machinery was removed from the site before it was deed to Ellis County. There was some hope that the site would finally be put to use when it was sold to a private corporation in August 2006, with plans of converting it into a data centre. The fact the abandoned complex has its own power grid and fibre optic line making it a good fit.

The plans have since fallen through, and as of 2015 the site now belongs to a chemical company. No further developments have taken place so far.


[images via Wired, Jim MerithewAmusingPlanet and Texas Monthly]