In the plains and wide open spaces of South Dakota, where we are and a few other states out west there lurks a danger hidden in plain sight. Since the late 1950’s there have been over a thousand minuteman missiles hidden in silo’s, ready to be launched at any time. Today we went to the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. Set up in the early 90’s after a worldwide treaty, between the United States and Russia to reduce it’s missile supply. This was a really eye opening visit, learned a lot and went away with a feeling of how mankind has figured out a way to kill us all. Now there are only about 500 Titan III minuteman missiles around. In Wall, where we are there is one base nearby, with a unassuming house surrounded, by barbed wire, guarded day and night. While below 60 feet in the ground is a launch control room, manned by two people round the clock, waiting. Surrounding them are 10 silo’s each carrying a Titan III, with three, 10 megaton warheads attached, ready to launch, if word came from the president. I don’t like that. We also went to the Delta 9 site, which houses a real Titan II minuteman missile. From the glass dome above you can peer down and view the thunder of death. With it’s solid fuel inside it would only take thirty minutes to travel 5000 miles to it’s intended target. There have been about twelve close calls, the Cuban missile crisis a big one, but one in 1973, when the U. S. radar screens lite up with multiple missiles launched, from Russia, only a few minutes later realizing someone put in a computer tape of a training simulated attack. Also one in 1983 on the Russian side, where the commander was ordered to fire on the U. S. . He disobeyed this order, hesitated and figured out there was a glitch somewhere, and fixed it. He was stripped of his command, and cast aside for his actions in saving the world, go figure.

This is the 70 ton blast door that would slide open when the missile was fired, the top part is for display only , so you can see into the silo. The badlands is in the distance,

Did you have to duck in cover under your desk in school?


  1. Bill McHenry

    I enjoyed touring that site more than Wall drugs and the Badlands. It is a real eye opener. If I remember correctly our U.S. missiles pack more punch than those of the Soviet but the Soviet Union still has more total missiles at the ready. Either way either countries launch would be devastating to the world.
    PS. Make sure you walk through Wall Drug and get your picture taken with some of the statues.

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