An Unexpected Detour to the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site – South Dakota (Nov’09)

Journey enough, and you’ll likely come upon the occasional surprise along the way.   The cross-country odyssey I had embarked on, across Rt. 90 on my way to Mt. Hood, Oregon featured numerous stops along the way such as Devil’s Tower, the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument and other treasures.   What I had not anticipated was a place commemorating the technology that could be used to annihilate the human race.

Bouncing along in my fully-loaded Jeep Wrangler, I spied the signs for it a few miles before the turnoff and it had me trying to visualize what the ranchers in this remote area would have seen had we ever launched our missiles…

A peaceful landscape of undulating and rolling grassy fields would have suddenly come alive as a thousand missiles rose from their bunkers; an absolutely frightful site, as they would then await the incoming counterstrike from the then-USSR.   Simply surreal.

Looked like I had just a few minutes before the place closed.   I knew I’d not be able to get a tour of the bunker, but it was still worth a detour and so I went.   Poor ranger.   It was mid-November and I likely woke the poor guy up!   No other visitors there.

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 3.07.14 PM

It was an interesting few minutes and when I left the trailer, I gazed out to the enclosed site where the decommissioned facility lay.   At the height of the Cold War, there were 1,000 of these sites; now, there are about 450.   I can only imagine how lonely such a posting must be and the mindset it must take to take on such a responsibility.

Let us pray that mankind continues to appreciate the implications of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).

Returning my my overloaded Jeep, I made my way back onto westbound Rt. 90 and my thoughts wandered to my youth, to the five years spent living behind the Iron Curtain.

13 years prior, while inspecting the Krunichev Rocket Facility on the outskirts of Moscow, the USAF Colonel on tour with me leaned over and whispered, “I was in Nuclear Targeting at the Pentagon and this was one of our targets.”

Yikes…   Maybe this is why I now live in a very remote part of Colorado.

[Photos from the NPS multimedia, public domain]

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