During the peak of the Cold War, the United States sought a strategic advantage over the Soviet Union by constructing Camp Century in Greenland. This top-secret initiative, known as Project Iceworm, was envisioned as a sprawling sub-ice city with sophisticated facilities, including a portable nuclear reactor. The ultimate goal was to station medium-range ballistic missiles close to the Soviet Union, exploiting Greenland’s strategic location.
The project received tacit approval from Denmark, which controlled Greenland. Construction began in 1959 amid extreme Arctic conditions. However, the plan underestimated the dynamic nature of the ice sheet. By 1967, the shifting ice made the project untenable, leading to its cancellation and the subsequent collapse of the underground structure.
Despite its military failure, Camp Century’s legacy includes significant scientific contributions. During its construction, a deep ice core was extracted, providing valuable insights into past climatic conditions and revealing evidence of ancient plant life, which has been crucial in understanding Earth’s historical climate changes