The Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Historic Site

Trip Start Jun 15, 2013
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
Cooperstown City Park Camp

Flag of United States  , North Dakota
Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I left the Dry Lake Camp Monday morning and headed for another small North Dakotan town, Cooperstown, app. 120 miles to the south.  During the Cold War 1,000 Minuteman missiles were located in North Dakota and in some of the surrounding states.  In their latest version, Minuteman-III, each missile contained three independently targetable nuclear bombs each with an explosive force of 170 kiloton (the bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki were much smaller, 13 kilotons and 20 kilotons, respectively).  In 1991 president Bush and president Gorbachev signed the START treaty eliminating a large number of those missiles.  And so the 321th missile squadron was disbanded and its 150 Minuteman missiles destroyed.  Fortunately, in Cooperstown, a Launch Control Center (LCC) and a Launch Facility (LF) have been preserved.  I first went to the LCC and took a guided tour of the center.  An enthusiastic young guide took myself and four other visitors on the tour.  It started on the ground, and we were shown the lounge, dining room, kitchen, bedrooms, rest rooms etc.  Everything is preserved exactly as it was, when the site closed down in 1997.  Then we went 60 feet down in an elevator to the actual command and control centre.  The centre was constructed to withstand  a direct hit by an incoming enemy nuclear missile, and thousands and thousands of tons of concrete and steel were used to construct it back in 1966-67.  The doors between subsections were several feet thick.  There was complete openness, visitors could photograph (incl. flash) everything we wanted!  After the impressive visit to the centre I went to see the LF 3 miles outside of Cooperstown.  The LF is unmanned but information posters clearly explain the design of the site.  
While 450 Minuteman missiles have been eliminated as a result of START, 650 remain in operational condition in other parts of North Dakota and neighboring states.  The LCCs are manned 24/7.  Are they relics of the Cold War that should be abandoned?  Or are they a safeguard against an Iran with nuclear weapons and a delivery capability.  I'm not sure.  Maybe an additional 450 could safely be destroyed.
After these exciting tours I went to the City Park Camp and put up my tent.  The park has a flushing toilet and a hot shower - and horseshoe pits!  I then went and had dinner at the Coachman Inn (breaded cod, baked potato, salad, and a margarita), drove around a little and then went to bed.  (We had a thundershower during the night but more about this tomorrow).                
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Comments

Jayne Amerighi on

Jens, you already know more about the US than most Americans. You are educating all of us.

Gina on

How very interesting you have made this dynamic story sound' and I enjoyed the pictures that I would never have seen had you not taken them. We still have several missile sites in Wyoming run by F.E. Warren AFB here in Cheyenne. Thanks again!

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