Vista de la Montaña United Methodist Church is on land previously owned by the U.S. Government. These ten acres were once a Titan II missile site complete with a silo, missile and warhead (now deactivated, removed and backfilled).

According to the National Park Service, the piles of rocks often found on hiking trails are called Bates Cairns. They are named after Waldron Bates, the lead author of the hiking maps still referenced to create today’s trail maps. The cairn found in Catalina at Vista de la Montaña United Methodist Church should possibly be named after Jim Bleess. He built it in the center of the Sun Wheel he constructed at the South end of the Church parking lot.

The Sun Wheel was two years in the making. Underneath the cairn is where the base of the radio antenna for the Titan Ballistic Missile used to be. The antenna was to receive the signal to launch, not direct the flight of the missile, to its eventual location in the event of war. All the Titan Ballistic Missile sites around Tucson have been dismantled and the silos filled with rocks and concrete. There remains one that is kept as a museum for visitors. It is located just South of Tucson. (The Titan Missile Museum is at 1580 West Duval Mine Road, Green Valley, Arizona 85614).

Jim Bleess said it took 28 tons of rocks to complete the Sun Wheel. There are seven viewing stations. One points to the equinox, and one station points to Kitt Peak. Viewing stations point to the Vernal Equinox on March 20th, the Summer Solstice on June 21, the Autumnal Equinox on September 23 and the Winter Solstice on December 21.

All are welcome from first light until the twilight hours. No overnight camping, tenting or RV parking. Check-in at the church office, if open, as a courtesy. Please stay on the gravel path.

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