Summer 2017, Day 8: Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile SHS (8/2/17)

We’re back to our RVing tradition of great breakfasts:

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We packed up to head out.  B made a poster for her cousin:

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Ready to go:

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Saying goodbye to my parents:

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We drove north and west into North Dakota.  It’s the first time the four of us have visited the state, our 48th state.  Only Kentucky remains:

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We got off the freeway and passed through fields of sunflowers:

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We arrived at Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site:

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The Minuteman Missile is a nuclear ICBM still in use by the US Air Force.  The facilities in this area were dismantled as part of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in the early 90s.  Each missile alert facility controlled ten launch facilities dispersed throughout the countryside.  The only facilities remaining are the Oscar-Zero Missile Alert Facility and the nearby November-33 Launch Facility.  The map below shows the location of the two remaining facilities in green:

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The launch facility is little more than an underground missile silo surrounded by a chain link fence.  The Missile Alert Facility which we visited is composed of an above-ground support building and an underground facility composed of a machine room and a control room in which two Air Force officers were always ready to direct their ten silos to launch:

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Our tour began in the above-ground structure, which provided housing for the facility’s manager, cook, and security team:

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This is the guard room, from which the main gate was watched.  The red doughnut is made of concrete with a coffee can in the center.  When visitors checked in their firearms, they would be unloaded and test fired into the can to insure the weapon did not have a round chambered:

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Modem and RS232 interface for the weather station.  Ah, the good old days:

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This escape ladder allows personnel to travel between the underground and above-ground facilities should the elevator fail:

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Thankfully the elevator did work, and we took it 60 feet down to the underground complex, which is composed of a pair of spherical reinforced structures, each with a massive door.  The machine room was to the right:

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The missile control room was to the left:

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We checked out the machine room first:

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The equipment room floor is suspended from the walls by a suspension system designed to allow the equipment to survive the shock of a nearby nuclear attack:

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When the facility was decommissioned, the departing personnel signed the wall:

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We next toured the control room from where the missiles would be launched:

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The key that launches the missiles:

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From this chair, civilization could be destroyed with the turn of a key:

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One of the two Air Force officers would sleep here while the other waited for the launch command:

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We left the historic site and continued west and south.  Late afternoon brought a magical light:

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Tonight we’re overnighting at Chain of Lakes Recreation Area.  After getting the RV set up for the night we discovered that we were in the day use area and that there are individual camping areas ringing the lakes here:

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We decided to stay put for the night:

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See the alternating light blue line on the trip map for today’s drive.

Summer 2017, Day 7: Tisha B’Av (8/1/17)
Summer 2017, Day 9: Fort Mandan, Knife River Indian Villages NHS, Dakota Gasification, Teddy Roosevelt NP (8/3/17)

One thought on “Summer 2017, Day 8: Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile SHS (8/2/17)

  1. Very interesting. The kids are sure getting a history lesson. Will remember things so much better when visiting this. Lucky kids!

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