Minuteman Missle
Historic Resource Study
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Section III — Peace Movement, Nuclear Disarmament, and the Future

Chapter 3:
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site (1990—present)

Site Selection

In creating Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, the American government has transformed what was once a secret and well-guarded location into a public space. As a component of the National Park System, the site will be preserved for future generations to learn first hand of the Minuteman missile's role in the Cold War. This was the hope of Soviet and American leaders even at the end of their bitter bipolar standoff. The terms of the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START Treaty), allow both the United States and the Soviet Union to preserve examples of their Cold War armaments as static displays for public education purposes. The Minuteman II installations of the 44th Strategic Missile Wing (SMW) at Ellsworth Air Force Base drew the attention of the National Park Service (NPS) and the Air Force during the deactivation of Minuteman II ICBMs, since the Launch Facilities (LFs) and Launch Control Facilities (LCFs) in the 44th SMW displayed original technology developed for the early Minuteman I ICBM system. The LFs and LCFs of Ellsworth Air Force Base remain largely as originally constructed, and reflect the massive retaliation strategy that governed the first Minuteman I installations. For these reasons, the NPS focused on the South Dakota Minuteman LFs and LCFs when selecting an LF and an LCF for preservation.

In 1993 the NPS and the Air Force selected Delta-01 LCF and Delta-09 LF of the 44th SMW for preservation. Delta-01 and Delta-09 were chosen over other sites in South Dakota for the physical integrity of the LF and LCF and for their location near other historic sites, federal lands, and Interstate 90. Minuteman Missile National Historic Site is located within easy driving distance of Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore National Memorial and the Black Hills National Forest. Buffalo Gap National Grassland is adjacent to the LCF and LF, providing a protected natural setting for the historic site. [445]

The NPS's Rocky Mountain Regional Office and the Air Force entered into a series of Interagency Agreements to coordinate the effort to convert Delta-01 and Delta-09 into static displays. The first such agreement, signed in 1993, committed the NPS to completing a Special Resource Study to determine formally that Delta-01 and Delta-09 were the best choice for preservation of a Minuteman II LCF and LF. This study considered the suitability and feasibility of developing Delta-01 and Delta-09 into a National Historic Site and investigated alternatives for managing the site. The study also considered the environmental and socioeconomic conditions in the area and what effect the new historic site might have on these variables. [446] Funding for the Special Resource Study came from the Department of Defense's "Legacy Resource Management Program," which awarded the NPS a $150,000 grant to study alternatives for preserving examples of America's Cold War history. [447] The NPS completed the Special Resource Study in 1995.

Delta-01 and Delta-09 Deactivation

The work to deactivate Delta-01 LCF and Delta-09 LF differed dramatically from the procedures followed for the other Minuteman II missile sites in South Dakota. The Air Force deactivated both sites but did not dismantle them. Instead, the NPS and the Air Force began planning for conversion of these two sites into monuments to the Cold War and the nuclear threat that existed during the second half of the twentieth century. The Air Force prepared special supplemental orders for these two sites. At the same time, deactivation of Delta-01 and Delta-09 needed to be completed in compliance with the START Treaty. Some of the deactivation tasks included those on the standard Air Force deactivation list, for example removing classified information and hazardous materials. The Air Force removed the Minuteman II missile at Delta-09, severed the Hardened Intersite Cable System (HICS), disconnected or removed other military communications equipment, and disconnected alarm systems used during the Cold War. [448] The technical order for Delta-01 required severing and removal of a one-foot section of the HICS to prevent any future restoration of communications between Delta-01 and Delta-09, overwriting of the Weapon System Controller/Digital Store and Processor, removing all classified information from the site, installation of non-functioning radio control panels, and the replacement of any missing face plates to cover exposed drawer openings. Diesel storage tanks were also removed. Mechanical equipment such as the electrical system, air filtering systems, and heating system remained intact and interior furnishings, including tables, sofas and chairs were retained. [449] The deactivation procedures checklist for Delta-01 was completed on 11 May 1993, however it is not known if this is the last day crews were on the site, or if they had left Delta-01 earlier. Delta-01 and Delta-09 continued in caretaker status until they were transferred to the NPS. [450] During the period of caretaker status, both NPS and Air Force personnel performed basic maintenance at Delta-01 and Delta-09, upgraded fire and security systems, and installed a viewing enclosure over the missile launcher at Delta-09.

After deactivation, the NPS and the Air Force continued to work together to assure that the proposed Minuteman Missile National Historic Site became a reality. Interagency Agreements between the two organizations continued to coordinate the activities related to the historic site development. In 1995 Historic American Engineering Record documentation for the two sites were prepared with funding from the U.S. Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program. [451] In 1996 the NPS and the Air Force developed a conversion plan to convert Delta-09 into a static display and the two agencies also finalized plans which included a viewing enclosure to allow future visitors the opportunity to see into the silo. Construction on the enclosure began in 2001. [452] Other activities included the Air Force's sponsorship of a draft National Historic Landmark nomination that was not submitted to NPS for designation.

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Last Updated: 19-Nov-2003