The Top Secret Military Site You Can Actually Go Inside

The control center at Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Site, once able to launch 10 nuclear missiles.

The November-33 underground missile silo, viewed from outside.

The State Historical Society of North Dakota conducts public tours of the site.

The entrance to the underground Oscar-Zero Launch Control Center at the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Site in Cooperstown, North Dakota.

The console of the underground missile launch bunker at Oscar-Zero.

North Dakota’s Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Site doesn’t look like much from the outside. And that’s the point.

A dramatic elevator ride to the Launch Control Center takes visitors deep underground—and back in time. Inside, a 1960s-era red missile launch chair and the control board remain intact.

Even though the Cold War is history, a sense of the epic standoff between the United States and the former Soviet Union remains at the Minuteman Missile Site—one of the last relics of secret missile-launch silos that once dotted the Great Plains.

“Visitors are often surprised to learn about North Dakota’s vital role in the Cold War,” says site manager Guinn Hinman.

The 1965 buildings, which fan out from Cooperstown, N.D., constitute the last remaining launch-control center from the Grand Forks Air Force Base’s 321st Missile Wing. The historic property spans two locations: the Oscar-Zero Missile Alert Facility and the November-33 Launch Facility.

Curious about what it was like inside one of these top secret sites? The Minuteman Missile Site offers an awe-inspiring glimpse of one of the most anxious times in U.S. history. Spaces remain as they were when Oscar-Zero missileers worked 24-hour shifts on 365-day alert, sleeping and eating at the base.

Guests can even see real nuclear missile equipment. At November-33, you can visit the topside of the launch facility that once housed a massive missile. “We were at the front lines of the Cold War,” says Hinman, “and we’re in [many visitors’] own backyards.”

Oscar-Zero was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.

Interested in other amazing sites? Search the National Register of Historic Places database of more than 90,000 listings.

Wherever your travels take you, make sure you’re covered with affordable travel and flight insurance through the GEICO Insurance Agency.

By Katie Calautti

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