Minuteman Missile National Historic Site set new records for visitation during the 2008 summer season. The fifth year of public tours at Minuteman Missile saw an astonishing increase. This summer season (Memorial Day – Labor Day), 15,791 visitors entered the site’s temporary Visitor Contact Station at Cactus Flats. This total represents a 29% increase over the 2007 summer season. This total was boosted by the site being open on Saturdays.
The number of visitors taking a tour increased 25% from the previous summer. This year, 7,351 visitors were given a tour of either Launch Control Facility Delta-01 or Launch Facility (Missile Silo) Delta-09. Visitors came around the world to visit the National Historic Site. The site received visitors from every continent except the Arctic. They arrived from 14 different European countries including the tiny principality of Andorra.
This increase was due to several factors. The site gave a series of weekly open houses to the public on Tuesdays throughout the summer. During these open houses, staff would give visitors tours of this once intensely secure site. Delta-09 was also opened to the public Monday through Saturday. For three hours each morning, a National Park Service ranger was stationed at Delta-09 to give tours to visitors who would arrive at the silo by their personal vehicle. Over 3,300 visitors took the time to drive out to Delta-09, where they viewed a Minuteman II training missile on display.
Another addition to Minuteman Missile’s interpretative program was a self guided cell phone tour of Delta-09. Visitors could dial in a number on their cell phone while at the silo and listen to a total of ten prerecorded messages that interpreted the history of the facility. This allowed the site to be left open during business hours all day for the first time ever. A total of 496 callers listened to 6,124 minutes of the self-guided tour messages. This was the equivalent of over 200 extra tours of Delta-09.
Minuteman Missile continued to expand its scope through various media forms this summer. The site premiered its newest film, “Partners for Peace.” The film was done in documentary style and includes an interview with local landowner and lifelong South Dakotan William Bielmaier. The park’s online website, www.nps.gov/mimi, had over 110,000 hits during the summer. Both versions of Minuteman Missile’s site films as well as photo galleries and oral history interviews are available for viewing.
Due to interest in the site, park rangers will continue with tours through the fall and winter as long as weather conditions permit. One tour per day, Monday through Friday, is offered at 10:00 am. Call the project office at (605) 433-5552 to make a reservation.