Nekoma Safeguard Complex
The Nekoma Safeguard Complex is a unique place in the history of the US military’s anti-ballistic missile effort. A portion of the Wikipedia entry for this place:
The Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard complex in Nekoma, North Dakota, with the separate long-range detection radar located further north near the town of Cavalier, North Dakota, was the only operational anti-ballistic missile system ever deployed by the United States. It defended Minuteman ICBM missile silos near the Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota.
It had reinforced underground launchers for thirty Spartan and sixteen Sprint nuclear tipped missiles (an additional fifty or so Sprint missiles were deployed at four remote launch sites). The complex was deactivated during 1976 after being operational for less than four months, due to concerns over continuing an anti-missile-missile arms race, cost, effectiveness, and changing political rhetoric.
When we arrived, we were surprised to find the gate standing wide open. The flag was flying over one building, a white pickup was parked in a parking lot, and there was a light in one of the garages, so we decided to go in and see if we could find someone to talk to and get permission to shoot a few photos.
We walked around for a few minutes but nobody appeared to be around, so we shot some photos.
Although there were several facilities like this planned, including one under construction in Montana, this facility was the only one to ever reach operational status.
This feature is occasionally referred to as “Nixon’s Pyramid”
In short, nuclear missiles would have been launched from this facility to intercept and detonate incoming Soviet ICBMs.
We featured the Stanley Mickelsen Safeguard Complex in our hardcover coffee table book, Ghosts of North Dakota, Volume 1.
This anti-ballistic missile defense facility was linked to other remote facilities in the countryside around Grand Forks Air Force Base. Terry’s dad took some photos of RSL #3 here if you’d like to see an example.
This facility was purchased by a local Hutterite farming operation, and they now farm the land all around the base. We’ve been told the local historical society has been trying to work out the details to turn this into a tourist attraction.
We took these photos not a moment too soon… after we had spent about forty-five minutes taking photos, an angry man in a black truck arrived and claimed we were trespassing. He threw us off the property, and as we left, we discovered we had we missed one ‘No Trespassing’ sign — it was posted on the gate, but because the gate was open, the sign was partially obscured by a fence post. Apologies to the property owner. We meant no harm.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, © 2011 Sonic Tremor Media