It’s easy for us to look back on some of the practices of the early Atomic Age as both foolish and futile. Even the bomb shelter, which many homeowners in the 50’s and 60’s built in their basements, would be all but useless in the face of a full-scale nuclear exchange.

Skywatch Tower in Tippecanoe County

Less than ten miles from Purdue University, the Cairo Skywatch Tower in Tippecanoe County was far from foolish. In fact, in its day and age, the watchtower made perfect sense. Long before satellites and even before the United States had a national radar system, the government established the Ground Observer Corps. This civil defense organization was a sort of primitive early warning system crowdsourced to citizen volunteers.

The Ground Observer Corps was originally a civil defense measure utilized during World War II. However, the Corps saw expanded use at the dawn of the Cold War, when the US radar systems were in their infancy.