Foundation Document

Green booklet cover with title and a historic photograph of a missile officer

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site's foundation document is a formal statement of the park's core mission that will provide basic guidance for all planning and management decisions.

The Foundation Document reflects the legislated established purpose of the Park, any special mandates or designations that the park has received, a description of the park's resources and values that are significant enough to warrant national park designation, the park's fundamental resources and values that are essential to achieving the purpose of the park and that are primary considerations during planning and management, other important resource values, and the park's primary interpretive themes that are conveyed to visitors. The document also includes a list of key parkwide or major issues and associated planning and data needs.

The Foundation Document Overview of Minuteman Missile National Historic Site provides information on park's purpose, significance, fundamental resources and values, and interpretive themes.

Printed or electronic copies of the Foundation Document may be obtained by contacting the Superintendent's office.

The Park Purpose, Significance, Fundamental Resources and Values, and Interpretive Themes contained within the Foundation document are listed below.


Park Purpose

The purpose of Minuteman Missile National Historic Site is to preserve, protect, and interpret the Delta-01 Launch Control Facility and Delta-09 Launch Facility associated with the Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missile System, and interpret its role as a key component of America’s strategic defense in the broader context of the Cold War.



Significance statements express why Minuteman Missile National Historic Site resources and values are important enough to merit national park unit designation. Statements of significance describe why an area is important within a global, national, regional, and systemwide context. These statements are linked to the purpose of the park unit, and are supported by data, research, and consensus. Significance statements describe the distinctive nature of the park and inform management decisions, focusing efforts on preserving and protecting the most important resources and values of the park unit.

  • Facilities, Technology, and Engineering. The Minuteman II Intercontinental Ballistic Missile System facilities known as Delta-01 and Delta-09 are the best preserved examples of operational Cold War missile facilities, representing unparalleled engineering feats and collaboration between the military and civilian contractors to design, construct, and activate in a short period of time a complex and enduring system and support infrastructure for protection against nations of like power.

  • Air Force Mission. The Delta-01 and Delta-09 facilities are symbolic of the dedication, preparedness, values, training, and esprit de corps of the U.S. Air Force personnel who operated, maintained, and supported the missile systems throughout the upper Great Plains in remote and forbidding locations during the Cold War.

  • Geopolitics. Once top secret and restricted, the Delta-01 and Delta-09 facilities were the ultimate deterrent produced by the military industrial complex that rose to defend the United States during the Cold War and brought major changes to rural areas in the Great Plains. Minuteman Missile National Historic Site is an ideal place for considering the impacts and choices a nation, states, and communities may face in providing for a common defense.

  • Resonance. The Delta-01 and Delta-09 facilities provide unique public access and a rare opportunity to experience a pristine Cold War nuclear weapons system, and to consider its social, political, and cultural importance in the past, present, and into the future.


Fundamental Resources and Values

Fundamental resources and values are those features, systems, processes, experiences, stories, scenes, sounds, smells, or other attributes determined to merit primary consideration during planning and management processes because they are essential to achieving the purpose of the park and maintaining its significance.

  • Delta-01 Launch Control Facility
  • Delta-09 Launch Facility
  • Delta-01 On-site Museum Collections
  • Off-site Collections/Archives
  • Preparedness and Dedication to Mission
  • Contemplation at Delta-09
  • Sense of Isolation and Remoteness

Interpretive Themes

Interpretive themes are often described as the key stories or concepts that visitors should understand after visiting a park—they define the most important ideas or concepts communicated to visitors about a park unit. Themes are derived from—and should reflect—park purpose, significance, resources, and values. The set of interpretive themes is complete when it provides the structure necessary for park staff to develop opportunities for visitors to explore and relate to all of the park significances and fundamental resources and values.
  • Cold War. The Cold War was the defining global influence on the last half of the 20th century. Cold War activities influenced political, economic, cultural, educational, and social programs throughout the United States, the Soviet Union, and other nations. In the Cold War, the “front line” was everywhere.
  • Technology. To counter Soviet rocket superiority and deter aggression, the United States rapidly developed advanced technologies necessary to build the Minuteman missile system with the ability to respond to an attack with immediate and massive retaliation.
  • Human/Cultural. Whether the Cold War ended peacefully due to the threat of nuclear annihilation or other factors, it is clear that the constant readiness and awesome power of the Minuteman II ICBM system played a strategic role in deterring aggression. Mutually assured destruction and the fearsome nuclear weapons that made that a possibility shaped the American landscape, leaving a mark on the men and women who built them, operated them, and lived alongside them.
  • Economic/Industrial. The Minuteman system was a catalyst for rural electrification, improved road access, economic enhancement, education, and community stability. Research and development for weapons and delivery and support systems influenced a military industrial complex that became a fact of U.S. economic life and had far-reaching benefits beyond military uses.
  • Political. The Cold War continues to have lasting effects. Minuteman Missile National Historic Site facilitates a public dialogue on the Cold War, fear of nuclear annihilation, nuclear weapons proliferation and disarmament, the role and dedication of U.S. Air Force personnel, and the nation’s political and military future. Debates about missile defense, energy, taxes, and terrorism all reflect the experiences of decades just past.

Last updated: September 3, 2022

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Philip, SD 57567


605 433-5552

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