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Minuteman Missile National Historical Site

A Blast from the Past
Article Date: March, 2012


The Missle Silo

Shown here in its silo, the Minuteman II travels at 15,000 MPH and is capable of reaching its destination in 30 minutes or less.

The command control center controlled several missile launch sites. Each missile was placed in an underground silo and each silo was spread out within a 20 mile radius to prevent clustering into one large target. After our tour of the Delta-01 Launch Control Facility we headed off to visit the missile silo at Delta-09. Once we left the interstate exit we found small signs directing us to the missile site. Amazingly, we had passed by this area on previous trips numerous times and never knew there was a missile silo nearby. The area was fenced in by a chain link fence and various antenna arrays were present as well as a security monitoring system. This particular silo had the huge blast cover partially rolled back and a glass enclosure placed over the silo so that visitors could look into the silo and see the missile, which was now inert and harmless. Access hatch covers were visible as well as the hardware used to install the missile into the silo. A self guided tour was simplified by providing brochures at the site as well as a point by point audio tour that was available over cell phones so, when visiting this site, be sure to bring your cell phone along. When you're done visiting the missile site you may want to keep in mind that you are now only six miles away from Wall Drug.

The 2' thick blast cover over the Minuteman II missile silo was partially rolled back and a glass cover installed to allow viewing of the missile from above. The tall obelisk behind it is a motion detection system used by the security force to detect any intrusions.

The heavy hatch cover requires hydraulic assist to open in order gain access to the silo. The small blue access cover adjacent to it contains the keypads and key switches required to operate the main hatch cover.

This slab covers an underground area that provides storage as well as an emergency generator set to provide electrical power to the site. The burner on the corner of the slab was used to destroy any sensitive documents, such as access codes, which were changed on a daily basis.

In addition to the National Park Service missile sites, Ellsworth Air Force Base is near Rapid City, about an hour to the west and features an excellent museum filled with aircraft as well as missiles and related equipment from the Cold War era. A launch control training station has now been made part of the tour so if you can't make it to Delta-01 the mockup at Ellsworth is your next best bet. This is a really great addition to the National Park Service and something quite unique that tells a great story of those times. If you still remember duck and cover drills from your school days you'll truly appreciate this site. However, I'm sure that everyone will be fascinated with what they see.


Minuteman Missile National Historical Site
(605) 433-5552

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