The next stop on tour of South Dakota was the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. The site is actually two sites, one being the visitors center, and the other the actual site of the missile silo.
First up was the visitors center. If you are interested, you can sign up for a tour inside a decommissioned silo at the center. It’s first come-first served, though, and apparently they fill up very quickly. I’m also some-what claustrophobic, so this was not something we were interested in doing. The visitors center here is fairly small, but very cool. There is quite an extensive, interactive museum about the Cold War. I thought the younger kids would be bored, but they actually found it really interesting.
In the first picture, J is sitting in an actual chair from one of the mission silos. It’s a little bit frightening to think of him having the power to launch a nuclear weapon! Next to that is a picture of a chunk of the Berlin Wall. The kids weren’t impressed, but I thought this was really moving. I remember when the wall was torn down, and that personal connection made the museum just that much more fascinating.
After leaving the Visitors Center, you can drive a couple of miles down the road and out into the middle of nowhere to see an actual (decommissioned) missile silo. There is an audio tour that you can dial into and listen on your cell phone that explains the various parts of the site. It was late morning, and the sun was HOT, so we didn’t stay as long as the adults would have liked. It was neat to see this and to know that there were silos like this peppering the countryside all over this area at one point.
The picture on the left shows C at the gate to the silo compound. Don’t let that wimpy looking fence fool you. The signs posted and the audio tour make it clear that trespassers were not long for this world. The top right is looking down into the silo at the missile (warhead removed). Below that is G & J looking into the silo.