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Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
In 1961, the United States Air Force began burying top secret weapons beneath the prairie grasses of South Dakota.
The Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles were designed to unleash massive destruction against America’s enemies. Although never launched, these weapons were a powerful deterrent during the Cold War.
Cold War Site Preserved As National Park Service National Historic Site
There were 150 U.S. Minuteman missiles and 15 Launch Control Facilities standing guard as silent sentinels, preserving peace during the Cold War, in the western part of the state. Two of these sites, the Delta-01 Launch Control Facility and the Delta-09 Launch Facility, have been preserved as Minuteman Missile National Historic Site to provide visitors with a unique Cold War history lesson.
Most visitors driving along Interstate 90 most likely never knew how close they were to below-ground, nuclear-tipped missiles. The deadly missiles were buried beneath the rural landscapes of South Dakota and other Midwestern states for more than 30 years. The locations were top secret, but their destructive power was well-known and helped keep the peace during the Cold War.
The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty
On July 31, 1991, U.S. President George H. W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty; the treaty that called for the reduction of the number of nuclear weapons worldwide. Soon after that, the U.S. Air Force began deactivating the United State’s minuteman force, including the South Dakota sites.
The Delta One Launch Control Facility and the Delta Nine Launch Facility were ideal locations for long-term preservation because they were among the nation's oldest - with technology dating back to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Only minor modifications have been made to the deactivated sites and much of the original mechanical equipment and historic furnishings remain intact.
For more information visit the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site (to National Park Service).