|Tuesday, Mar 28, 2006|
Beginning on April 3rd at 8:00 a.m. MST, reservations will be accepted for tours of Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. The tours will be conducted twice daily, Monday through Friday, beginning on May 29, 2006 (Memorial Day) and ending on September 4, 2006 (Labor Day). Tours are approximately two hours in length and are limited to six people per tour. Reservations can be obtained by calling the Minuteman Missile NHS Project Office at 605-433-5552.
?On behalf of the rangers at Minuteman Missile, we are very excited to be able to offer these special tours as part of our ongoing visitor services for 2006,? said Superintendent Mark Herberger. ?Although the historic site will not be fully operational for several years, we wanted to take the opportunity again this summer season to provide a sneak preview of Minuteman Missile. These tours will serve to assess our needs for conservation and visitor services for when the site is officially open to the public year-round. Like last year, statistics we acquire from visitors will assist us with information for drafting the site?s General Management Plan. Members of the local communities -- communities that have had an important relationship with the missile sites and Ellsworth Air Force Base in the past -- are especially encouraged to make reservations and experience this unique new National Park Service area.?
Minuteman Missile NHS was established by Congress in 1999 to tell the story of the Minuteman ICBM system, including the development of the system, the personnel who served at the 1,000 sites throughout the upper Great Plains, and the impact of the system on the communities nearby. Following the transfer of the property from the United States Air Force in September 2002, the National Park Service began preparing the site for public tours.
Tours will be through the topside structure at Delta-01, a former launch control facility that housed missile crews from the 44th Missile Wing at Ellsworth AFB. Visitors will then descend into the underground launch control center at Delta-01 ? the once highly classified and now, the only remaining Minuteman II launch center on planet Earth! For the third portion of the tour, visitors travel to the former launch facility known as Delta-09 for a close-up view of the missile silo and a deactivated Minuteman ICBM.
Tours are not recommended for people uncomfortable with heights or confined spaces. For safety considerations, visitors that elect to see the underground launch control center portion of the tour will have to be capable of climbing a 30 foot ladder/catwalk back to the surface in the event of an emergency.
?Reservations are the only way people will be able to see either site,? added Herberger, ?so we anticipate a very high demand beginning on April 3rd when people start calling for the spaces available. During the summer of 2005, the first summer season of tours into the underground launch control center, park rangers guided over 2,000 visitors through Delta-01 and Delta-09. As the popularity and interest in Minuteman Missile grows, we expect visitation to the site to double this year.?
More information about the site can be found on the internet at www.nps.gov/mimi or by calling the site at 605-433-5552.