Daily Illuminator

January 30, 2011: Showering With 2,000-Year-Old Water

"Camp Century" sounds like an awesome name for an Atomic Horror location, doesn't it? In reality . . . it was.

In 1959, the Army Corps of Engineers chose a location in Greenland just 800 miles from the North Pole. They dug trenches over 25 feet wide and nearly 30 feet deep, covered them with a steel roof, and dropped in a 1500kW portable nuclear reactor for power. The water well pumped steam down into the glacier and pulled up water that had last seen liquid form around the time of Caesar Augustus.

You can read about the construction, operation, and purpose of Camp Century here. Sadly, "unanticipated movement of the glacial ice" caused the camp to close . . .

Wait a minute! Since when do glaciers move in an "unanticipated" fashion? Thousands of tons of ice don't just decide to take off in a different direction one day. Obviously the government wanted everyone to think the station was closed, in order to give their yeti allies a place to make hot cocoa. Or perhaps it was a shape-shifting alien that took over the place, only to have the account fictionalized in a popular film (which changed the hemisphere to protect the innocent).

However exotic or mundane the origins and demise of Camp Century were, it's a darned cool location to use in a game.

-- Paul Chapman

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