On our drive across the United States, we took a break in South Dakota to check out a couple of National Park sites. Last Saturday, we parked the RV at a nearby campground and walked to the Visitors Center at the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.
Minuteman Missile is a newish park: only 18 years old. When the site was designated, they set aside one missile silo and one command center for preservation. Then they built the Visitors Center, completed last year. The Visitors Center is at Exit 131 on Interstate 90 in South Dakota. The missile silo is Exit 116 and the command center is Exit 127. I think they put the Visitors Center at Exit 131 because it is the same exit for beginning the scenic loop for Badlands National Park.
The Minuteman Missile Visitors Center has a very nice museum that focuses on the Cold War and the arms race. There are videos interpreting many different things from a “drop and cover” drill in school to President Bush signing the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in 1991. Having lived through some of that, I am always relieved to see the way common sense prevailed and we backed away from mutual assured destruction.
Tom and I wanted to take the Delta-01 Ranger tour, which is the only way you can visit the command center. But you have to make reservations online. And you have to make them at least 24 hours in advance. I was trying to make them the day before but it wasn’t 24 hours before. So we weren’t able to sign up for the tour at all. Disappointing.
Instead we headed to the Delta-09 site the next morning. This is the silo where the missile was stored. The Delta-09 site has a self-guided cell phone tour and Tom and I did that. The site itself is very small. We could see into the missile silo where they store a dummy missile. The cell phone tour talked about the safety measures, the “no lone zone” (workers could not work alone on the site), and the transportation procedures for the missiles. Very interesting.
We enjoyed our visit to the Minuteman Missile Historic Site. The museum took about an hour. The visit to Delta-09 took another hour, including driving to and from. If you go, try to book a Delta-01 tour but be sure to do it at least 24 hours ahead! This is an interesting part of our nation’s history and I am thankful that the world lived through it.