South Dakota on the Cold War

The Minuteman Missile are land-based nuclear arsenals that were deployed in the United States during the 1960s. These underground launch control sites represented the evolution of technical achievements and the nuclear strength of the US in its fight against the communist subversion. 

According to the article Missiles and Memory by Heefner, Two of the best launch facilities for the Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles are located in South Dakota. It has also examined the area as a “crucial, but silent, player in the cold war”. The site has hosted “three thousand times the destructive power of the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima”. However, the national park services preserved the facility, and the Air force and South Dakota’s western plains underground nuclear testing was overlooked and unrecognized by the American public. Not only was the site’s contribution during the cold war that was hidden from the public but also the potential nuclear destruction was preserved. It all goes back to the idea of secrecy and national state security. Nuclear development is a matter of national security and was viewed as a federal concern in which data can not be shared with the public. The article has also reflected on the locals’ reaction to the spread of these underground-based missiles. While some Dakotans believed it to be a “patriotic duty as American citizens to promote the deployment of these nuclear missiles, others questioned the department of defense and concerned themselves with the lands that were being exploited and demolished. 

President Dwight Eisenhower has also questioned the military industries especially the privately owned as he referred to them with the “military industrial complex”. He warned the public from their promoted policies that encouraged the nuclear arms race which was not for the country’s best interest. However, in the late nineties, the privatization of the weapon production industry flourished on which the economy was deeply dependable. 

I think that the minuteman site in South Dakota was preserved as a national historic site with the National Park Service because it signifies a national pride of nuclear achievements and the technical advancement of the country during the cold war. However, the reason for keeping the site secretive and overlooked at first was merely a security concern. The federal government and the military had preserved nuclear activities across the country as a wartime measure to avoid propaganda or any external threats to the public.

One thought on “South Dakota on the Cold War

  1. Great post. I thought you made a really good point about how the United States did not head Eisenhower’s warning of the military-industrial complex and how the privatization of weaponry changed the economy. I also agree that South Dakota preserved the missiles to be able to show the important role the state played in the Cold War, since they did not get to during the Cold War for security reasons. The people in those communities want to show that they did contribute and sacrifice for the U.S.


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