Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
A marker entitled “Closer Than You Imagined” at The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, located in South Dakota, offers information about the role of America's nuclear arsenal during the Cold War era. For over thirty years, nuclear weapons housed at this site were at the ready. Visitors to the site can learn more about Minuteman Missiles, the U.S. role in the Cold War and America's underground missile silos.
Backstory and Context
The Minuteman Missile National Historic site was established in 1999 to preserve two Minuteman II Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) sites: Launch Control Facility Delta-01 and a corresponding underground Launch Control Center and Launch Facility (Missile Silo) Delta-09. The aforementioned sites receive recognition as the first national park unit specifically designated to commemorate the Cold War.
From 1963 through the early 1990’s, the aforementioned facilities were part of a Minuteman Missile field that covered the far western portion of South Dakota. There were 15 Launch Control Facilities that commanded and controlled 150 Launch Facilities (Missile Silos) containing Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.
Launch Control Facility Delta-01 with its corresponding underground Launch Control Center and Launch Facility (Missile Silo) Delta, along with a Visitor Center comprise the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.
Throughout the 1960s into the early 1990s, there were 1,000 ICBM’s housed at the site.
A Minuteman Missile can deliver a nuclear warhead to a target up to 6,300 miles away in less than 30 minutes. No Minuteman Missiles were ever launched from what is now the Minuteman National Historic site, however, a Minuteman Missile was launched north of Newell, South Dakota on March 1, 1965. The flight only lasted a total of seven seconds with the rocket landing in a nearby pasture.