You don’t hear about them anymore because they’ve been dismantled, but back in the 80s the Minuteman Missiles were a big, big deal. They were the US Air Force’s emphatic reply to the Soviet Union if they decided to nuke us. We’d nuke them right back. And they were ready in a moment’s notice. just like our revolutionary minutemen were so long ago. There were 150 of them in South Dakota, and 1,000 of them total. Many were on the Great Plains. Each missile had a 1.2 megaton nuclear warhead, equal to 60% of ALL munitions used in World War II. Hard to comprehend the fire power there! Apparently, the Air Force understood because each missile was based in its own underground silo “hardened” with concrete to withstand an enemy nuclear strike
Now this former site of Minutemen Missiles has been designated a National Historic Site, the only one telling the story of the Cold War. Pretty cool!
Of course I never knew where any of the sites were because they were top secret (and because I was a teenager and didn’t really care), and then they were gone-zo. Well, we just happened upon this one outside of Rapid City, South Dakota, near Ellsworth Air Force Base. It is also right by the bad-ass Badlands National Park, so you can check off two national parks in one excursion. Check, check! It’s very small, very simple and very free. (But if you’re looking for buffalo galore, head to Custer State Park! And if you’re looking for a four-person rock band, head to Mount Rushmore!) So one minute you’re gawking at the Bad Lands with its Goliath-sized sand castles along with tons of other tourists…
And the next minute you’re staring down this hole amazed by the destructive power it once had to nuke an enemy country on other side of the world. And there were much fewer tourists there, but the ones who were there were in awe.
This is a missile silo with a Minuteman II missile on display.
It was almost disconcerting how innocuous it all was, when you think it had the power to obliterate the Soviet Union with a press of a button. Wow!
The best was its “blast door,” a take-off on a Domino’s pizza logo — WORLD-WIDE DELIVERY IN 30 MINUTES OR LESS OR YOUR NEXT ONE IS FREE!! Wouldn’t want to test that guarantee out!
That’s some good Cold War humor there!
Peace out! And thanks for reading/gawking!