We were busy in our second full year* of operation as a historic site. Below are some highlights from our July 2010-June 2011 Annual Report…
After first opening its doors on July 13, 2009, the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site enjoyed its second full year of operation from July 2010 through June 2011. Operations at the site during this second year primarily focused on the continued restoration of the site and the delivery of new and effective interpretive programs for guests.
- Two significant special programs were developed for the site. A fun, family-oriented, “Children’s Rocket Day” hosted nearly 100 guests and treated families and children to a fun day at the site.
An ongoing, wintertime “Crew Commander’s Tour” offers extended-length, in-depth tours of the Oscar-Zero facility from former Air Force members who worked in the missile field. These collaborative tours conclude with lunch offered by the Friends of Oscar-Zero at the Griggs County Museum.
- The site launched the youth-oriented educational program, “Youth Missile Commander.” All visiting children are provided with the challenge to complete workbook activities in reward for a special “Youth Missile Commander” patch (similar to patches worn by Air Force members who served at Oscar-Zero).
The site also continued development on History, Math, Science, and Language Arts educational lesson plans that are targeted towards secondary school children and will be available on the internet and on-site.
- The ongoing oral history project, “Memories of the Missile Field,” was formally planned and launched. Nearly twenty interviews were recorded. As the project has progressed, new techniques and new equipment have been incorporated to ensure recordings of high quality will be captured.
- Significant improvements were made at the site to improve the guests’ experiences. Improvements included: additional directional signs for Oscar-Zero and November-33, outdoor brochure distribution boxes, a new digital frame displaying historic photos and a new exhibit case in the orientation room, and a new kiosk for brochure and information distribution.
- Using historic inventories, on-site user manuals, and other supporting historic documentation, numerous pieces of equipment were restored to Oscar-Zero. Restored equipment included: an original Chelsea US Government 24-hour clock (located in the Launch Control Center),
exterior security light fixtures, a basketball hoop, two televisions, one VCR, a digital alarm clock, one refrigerator, a personal computer (with monitor, keyboard and mouse), and a computer monitor.
- A number of projects were undertaken and completed to preserve the historic condition and integrity of the site. These projects included: installation of acrylic over vulnerable historic wall-hangings and the Security Control Center desk; cleaning of sludge and decay from the bottom of the elevator shaft way and beneath the tunnel junction floor; restoration of below-ground drainage lines (to allow ground water to reach the sump pump and be evacuated from the below ground area); a significant cleaning of the site’s garage; an inspection and testing of the historic (and still functional) cathodic protection system; and, extensive grass cutting, spraying, and tree removal from the sewage lagoon to restore it to its historic state and improve its functionality.
- Site library resources continued to expand with the acquisition of numerous secondary sources and primary documents that relate to nuclear weapon systems and the Cold War. The site continued to pursue acquisition of primary documents relating to the 321st Strategic Missile Wing from the Air Force Historical Research Agency. Once obtained, these documents will serve as an invaluable on-site resource for future historical research and current interpretive understanding of the site.
- The site continued to receive positive recognition as it won the Mountain Plains Museum Association’sTechnology Competition for its orientation video,“America’s Ace in the Hole: North Dakota and the Cold War.”
- The site continued to expand its community involvement with a presence on the Cooperstown Economic Development Council, Cooperstown Community Club, and the Cooperstown Area Strategic Planning Team. Additionally, the Site Supervisor attended the Association of Air Force Missileers’ annual conference in Tucson, Arizona and presented on the site’s preservation efforts, solicited input on historical resources, and developed relationships.
- The site continued to work closely with the Griggs County Historical Society to assist them with the development of the Northern Plains Cold War Interpretive Center. The site also assisted the GCHS as it began participating in the American Association of State and Local History’s StEPs program.
- The site pursued and achieved formal certification from the National Museum of the US Air Force under its official loan program. With formal certification, the site is now eligible to borrow objects from the NMUSAF. These objects could potentially include a Minuteman missile, Peacekeeper armored vehicle, UH-1N helicopter and others.
- Marketing and advertising efforts continued with a regular Facebook presence, regularly scheduled summertime weekly radio interviews, and special interviews with local and distant radio stations (including Chicago’s WGN and Prairie Public Radio).
*As part of a state agency, the site operates on a fiscal year that runs between July 1 and June 30.