In 1962, Spokane was a small city surrounded by endless fields of grain, rock and brush. But for 13 days in October, it was of great interest to the Kremlin. Leaders of the Soviet Union feared the end of the world might just come from those fields.
50 years ago Tuesday a crisis was being revealed to President John F. Kennedy. Two days earlier, an American spy plane making runs over Cuba took photographs of Soviet made nuclear missiles being installed on the island nation.
On October 16th, 1963, those pictures were shown to the president in the Oval Office. Although not ready to launch at the time, the missiles would be able to reach most U.S. cities within five minutes.
President Kennedy decided the construction of the missile sites on Cuba could not be permitted and asked Soviet Premiere Nikita Khrushchev to remove the missiles. Khrushchev refused, triggering a tense, 13-day standoff between the two nuclear powers.
While the eyes of the world were focused 100 miles off the southern coast of Florida, Nine Atlas missile sites all within 70 miles of Spokane were receiving new coordinates.