PIERRE, S.D. – During the Cold War era, South Dakota harbored 150 missile silos on its expansive western prairie. The destructive nuclear force acted as a deterrent to keep the peace for several decades.
The Minuteman Missile project was commissioned in 1951 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to expand America’s security and deter attacks on American soil. If needed, missiles could be launched from those silos and reach targets 6,000 miles away in just 30 minutes.
When the Cold War ended, the Minuteman Missile II project was decommissioned. The 150 missile sites in southwestern South Dakota were deactivated with the signing of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in 1991.
The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site was established by Congress in 1999 to illustrate and preserve the history of the Cold War era. It is regulated by the National Park Service and consists of three facilities: a launch control facility, a missile silo, and a visitor center that also serves as the main office. The Minuteman Missile Site is located at exit 131, along Interstate 90, about 20 miles west of Wall, S.D.
The Marks of History series is a project of the South Dakota Office of Tourism, designed to highlight historical markers all across South Dakota. Click on the special “Marks of History” link at www.MediaSD.com to access the complete list of articles.
The Marks of History series is part of Goal 1 of the 2010 Initiative to double visitor spending in South Dakota from 2003-2010 and Goal 4 to enhance history and arts as a tool for economic development and cultural tourism in South Dakota. The Office of Tourism serves under the direction of Richard Benda, Secretary of the Department of Tourism and State Development.
The South Dakota Office of Tourism is not responsible for the text included on these markers. Some of the language used at the time of production may not be appropriate by today’s standards. Please view the markers at your own discretion.