North Dakota - November-33 Missile Facility
November-33 Missile Launch Facility
Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site
The site looks relatively nondescript from the road, except it's a sea of gravel in what's otherwise a sea of farms. Just about every other nuclear launch site has been obliterated from the landscape as part of denuclearization, and I'm sure the government won't tell you where the other ones are.
These are heavily armored ventilation shafts for the launcher equipment building, needed because of how far below ground and well-protected it is. A silo isn't just a missile sitting in the ground; it has plenty of electronic equipment to keep the site in communication with the military and other practical aspects like a sump pump.
There are only two ways into the facility: the personnel access shaft and the launcher equipmnt building shaft. The former was the typical way in for staff visiting the site during its 1966-1997 life, while the latter would have only been needed for installing or removing equipment. This site was apparently built later than the first round of silos, after the decision to better protect the equipment building (which includes necessary functions such as the emergency generator and brine chiller), which meant the building was installed much deeper and therefore needed unique features such as the vents and this door with doors in it.
It amuses me that this pole is itself shaped like a missile. The Improved Minuteman Physical Security System, or IMPSS, pole was the first line of defense for people attempting to enter the November-33 site. It was configured to detect any motion within the premises and send the alarm to the nearest manned facility, 20 miles away, to send over heavily armored personnel quickly and brusquely. I imagine the only people ever triggering such an alarm would be drunk locals - and apparently one protestor who tried to jackhammer the concrete away very unsuccessfully. (You think the U.S. military would forget to harden their concrete?) There was also internal or Inner-Zone (I-Z) detection if someone managed to find their way in somehow. I bet that never happened.
Forget people, the great danger to this site is incoming attacks, so of course there is a radar station to detect if anything is flying this way that shouldn't be. Fortunately there wasn't, but the site was designed to withstand a nearby nuclear blast and still be capable of returning fire.
Let's close with shots of the missile door itself. It could be pried open slowly, but if the missile ever needed to be fired, it could be exploded open much more quickly, plowing away snow and any gravel with its wedge shape. (Note to ND: This would be fun to do to random tourists.)
Tour the rest of the Minuteman State Historic Site at Oscar-Zero
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