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Delta-09 Minuteman II missile silo.

Peer into a Missile Silo

Field review by the editors.

Wall, South Dakota

From 1963 until 1991 the Delta-09 underground silo held a Minuteman missile armed with a 1.2 megaton nuclear warhead, 66 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It could reach a target up to 7,500 miles away in just over 30 minutes.

Delta-09 Minuteman II missile silo.

There were 149 identical silos, missiles, and warheads in western South Dakota alone -- the idea being that, if we had enough missiles, spread far enough apart, we could vaporize someone even after they had vaporized us. This concept was known as "deterrence."

For 28 years a team of two crewmen was always here, underground with the missile, ready to fire it at a moment's notice. It was, if nothing else, a steady job.

The silo, 12 feet across and 80 feet deep, now has a glass roof with a dummy Minuteman training missile inside. In 1999 the silo was made part of the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, and the dummy missile and glass roof were installed in 2001.

Today, visitors are free to hop off of the nearby interstate and peer down at a replica nuclear warhead pointed directly at them. Delta-09 is the world's only preserved Minuteman II missile silo.

Peer into a Missile Silo

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

195th Ave., Wall, SD
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. I-90 exit 116. Drive west on 239th St., which bends south and becomes 195th Ave. You'll quickly see a fenced lot and parking area on the right.
W-Su 9-3. Closed M-Tu. Local health policies may affect hours and access.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Wall Drug DinosaurWall Drug Dinosaur, Wall, SD - 5 mi.
Yard Full of Animal SculpturesYard Full of Animal Sculptures, Wall, SD - 6 mi.
40-Foot-Tall Jackalope40-Foot-Tall Jackalope, Wall, SD - 6 mi.
In the region:
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, Philip, SD - 15 mi.

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