Missile Maintainer at work on a Minuteman
Missile Maintainer at work on a Minuteman in a Launch Facility

Ellsworth Air Force Base


From the late 1940's until the early 1990's the United States was front and center in an event known to history as the Cold War. This conflict involved political, economic, cultural and military confrontation between the democratic capitalist system of the United States and its allies versus the communist totalitarian system of the Soviet Union and its allies. The conflict was personified by a nuclear arms race which threatened destruction of both sides yet kept an uneasy peace. All aspects of life in the United States were influenced by the Cold War.

Telling Stories From The Cold War
A timeline of the Cold War includes such world historical events as the launching of Sputnik, the missile gap which led to Minuteman Missiles becoming a major force in the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, peace movement, the fall of the Iron Curtain and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. One of the most fascinating parts of the conflict took place in the United States where 1,000 Minuteman Missile silos were located on the Great Plains. The construction of these sites, their operation for over thirty years and eventual deactivation was and still is today one of the most dramatic stories in American history.

Minuteman Missile's Oral Histories tell more personal stories from places like western South Dakota where families learned to live with nuclear weapons literally in their backyard, young male and female missileers were given control of unprecedented military power and maintenance teams working at missile silos in almost unimaginable winter weather conditions. These are just a few of the stories told at Minuteman Missile. There are many more stories waiting to be discovered, researched and told. The essence of history is the story of humanity, the essence of Minuteman Missile National Historic Site is a human story and how it was shaped by the forces of technology to protect freedom and democracy.

Last updated: August 14, 2015

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24545 Cottonwood Road
Philip, SD 57567


(605) 433-5552

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