As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, we occasionally stumble upon a gem like we did with the Buddy Holly museum in Clear Lake, IA. Well, it happened again while we were exploring the “Loop” road for the Badlands National Park. It is the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. For someone that grew up during the height of the Cold War with Russia I remember the monthly air raid siren tests, the instructions to take cover under our desks at school, and my parents reviewing plans for a bomb shelter. This site chronicles the history of the Arms Race and it’s perils, along with how this country dealt with it. I found it interesting and sobering at the same time.
The idea of mutually assured destruction was the central theme to the deterrence. The fact that no one could survive an attack made it less likely that one would occur. Of course there is always the potential of an accident or some other factor that could trigger a launch which we have moved towards on several occasions.
The museum takes you from the first atomic bomb dropped in Japan up to the present day. You can then go four miles down the road and tour a previous nuclear missile launch site housed under ground. Finally, you can travel a few more miles down the road and visit an actual Minuteman Silo which currently houses an inert test missile. Each one of these missiles contained the equivalent of 1.2 million tons of TNT. As a comparison, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima yielded the equivalent of 15, 000 tons of TNT. Quite a difference. The ICBM can hit a target in the Soviet Union in less than 30 minutes. Of course the Soviets can reach the US in the same amount of time. Certainly not much time to react.
I’m going to post a few more pictures below that speak to the time period and then I have to move on to our next stops. I’m getting a little behind on a lot of things I would like to share with everyone. As I write this we are staying in Hermosa, SD near Custer State Park. We have visited Deadwood, Sturgis, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and Mt. Rushmore so I have some catching up to do.