May 4, 2010

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, South Dakota

Today we visited the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site just north of Badlands National Park.

You have to call ahead to make reservations to visit the Site as only a limited number of visitors can tour each day.

Sometimes you don't realize that with just a few turns of a couple of keys, it could all be over.

These missile sites are located all over sparsely-populated areas. Along I-90 in Western South Dakota alone, travelers pass nearly a dozen missile sites.

This might just look like a farmhouse from the road but actually it is a nuclear launch facility.

The National Park Service took it over after it was decommissioned and the National Historic Site was established in 1999.

Visitors will find the site just as it was when it was left. The tour begins by following a Park Ranger about 15 miles from the Visitor Center to this location.

This ain't your average farmhouse.

Once out of your car you will notice this large antenna used to communicate with the outside world. Cows often grazed right up to the fence.

This is the facility manager's sleeping quarters. He was the only one on site with a private room.
You can't help but notice that government does everything big...notice the 220 volt toaster. And just what do you toast with that?

This is the dining and day room.

Security Control Center is where an eye was kept on the front gate. Staff also entered this room to access the elevator to the launch facilities.

Doug boards the elevator to make his trip into the launch control center.

Once well underground you will notice the blast door to enter the control room. The door says it all.

Looking up the elevator shaft gives you an idea of just how far down we are.

This is what we will be entering into once we go through the blast doors.

Looking down the hallway after entering the blast doors.

Looking into the launch control room.

Notice the seat belts on the chairs to keep you in during a blast.

With the turn of the keys, nuclear war would begin.

Unlike the movie "War Games", if one person would not turn the key the other person would not hold a gun on them and make them turn the key. The launch could still take place with the assistance of planes above.

These are large shock absorbers which keep the capsule stable in the event of a blast.

One missileer at a time could grab some zzz's.

Next time you are driving by a farmhouse it might not be what you think it is.

Our next stop was at the missile silo itself.

Missiles are located several miles away from the launch facilities. This way a direct hit on the launch facility will not take out the missiles, which can still be launched by plane. One launch facility can launch several missiles from several locations.

It just looks like a fenced-in field, but the fenced area is protected by radar from intruders. Intrude and be greeted shortly by a security team.

This antenna sticking up is part of the radar for detecting intruders.

The glass dome has been placed over the missile to allow visitors to peer down into the silo.

This concrete cover is what you would see instead of glass. During a launch, a catapult would pull this cover off.

Looking though the glass, you notice the missile is quite a distance down. Luckily, this missile's warhead is unarmed.
For more pictures, click here pictures 1-121.

To be continued...

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