The silo, built in 1963 and militarily/cryptically designated Delta-09, is open to the public. All you have to do is walk through the gate. There's a sign on the fence about a cell phone tour, providing (a) you can get coverage in South Dakota and (b) you remembered to bring your phone with you because you don't have coverage where you're staying... (We didn't and didn't, so didn't.)
You can wander around and look--just don't climb on anything. Oh,yeah, and watch for rattlesnakes!
The Minuteman II was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), with solid fuel and could be deployed from unstaffed underground silos. Obviously this thing's deactived; the glass on top is to allow the Soviet satellites flying above South Dakota to confirm it's still there. They did the same thing with the Titan missile they have in Arizona. (Titan ICBM Museum)
Another 15 miles east is the Contact Station for the site. They're building a new Visitor Center on the other side of the freeway, and it looks like it will be very nice. Right now, they're stuck in an office trailer. You need to go there to get tickets for the guided tour at the Launch Control Facility.
Then we waited for our ranger...but he didn't look like this! Our Ranger is Ted, and he talks with his hands.
He took us inside that building with the windows, where he showed us the living area and security control center on the main floor.
|Security Control Center|
Then we headed down in the elevator to the Launch Control Center, 30' below ground surrounded by concrete. This is the 90-ton door into the Control Center--blast-door art created by the two-person missile crews on 24-hour duty alerts, waiting for a call to their their missile launch keys and perhaps end civilization as we know it. It was the world we grew up in. Now there are terrorists. Six of one, half-dozen of the other...
I'm really glad they worked. It's never been a perfect world, but it could have been a lot worse.
More pictures? Here you go! Minuteman Missile NHS