Remember When Western South Dakota Was Packing Power?
Imagine making a road trip across the entire United States of America in Five Minutes. Or flying to just about anywhere in Russia in around 30 minutes. Now, imagine that you are traveling on an object that weighs 65,000 pounds. Ok, as long as we're at it, throw in the fact that you were traveling with enough firepower to turn multiple square miles into little more than a parking lot. Twenty years ago, if you made a drive to Rapid City, South Dakota from Sioux Falls, you came within a few hundred yards of that 'potential; with the Minuteman Missile.
Nowadays, when you watch a moving about doomsday, there's talk of taking out huge metropolitan areas like New York or Chicago. When I was growing up in Kennebec, we knew better, we knew were pretty close to being first in line.
Up until a few years ago, a road trip to Rapid City had you driving right by some of the missile sites. According to nps.gov;
In total there were 1,000 Minuteman missiles deployed from the 1960's into the early 1990's. These nuclear sentinels waited silent and deadly to perform their destructive duty at a moment’s notice.
I remember taking road trips to Phillip for track meets and looking out the window at the sites. There was always talk shortly after looking out the bus window about the Military mite of the United States or the certain end to the world. I know, uplifting right?
After negotiations and such and an end to the cold war, the sites were sealed up. What kind of power and might was sealed up?
The Minuteman II’s warhead was sixty-six times more powerful than the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima, Japan and killed 140,000 people just before the end of World War II. One the most shocking statistics is that the Minuteman II’s warhead was more powerful than all the bombs the Army Air Force dropped on Europe in their successful bombing campaign that led to American victory in World War II.
The story is an interesting read. If you grew up as a child of the '60s or 70's chances are you had that same creepy feeling of what 'could happen.'
Now, you can visit one of the actual sites. There is no better place to witness the Minuteman’s role in the Cold War than at Launch Facility Delta-09, Six miles west of Wall, South Dakota, south of I-90, exit 116. Minuteman I & II launch facility used from 1963-1993.
If you've never seen one of the sites, pack some sandwiches and head west.
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