Monday, March 9, 2009
Philip, South Dakota: Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
The entrance to this National Park Service facility isn't going to make anyone forget Mount Rushmore. But that's all right.
During the Cold War, the United States had several missile sites in Western South Dakota. They aren't needed now, so they were deactivated. The Park Service took over a couple of the facilities -- a control center and an actual missile complex -- and gives tours to those interested.
Philip is located on the eastern edge of Badlands National Park, and the initial stop is located just off I-90. If you want a tour of the two official complexes, a reservation is needed months ahead of time. They only take a handful of people through per day, so the slots go quickly. A Parks Service employee leads a couple of caravans to the two locations.
However, you can simply stop at the building shown above. There you can see a video about the set-up, and the rangers are ready to answer all of the questions you might have. It's not as good as going into the silo, of course, but it's a pretty good substitute.
The Park Service isn't equipped to handle big crowds here, so it doesn't even put up a sign on the Interstate. So you have to do your homework to discover the place.