Tuesday, 22 May 2018


Rummaging through the archives of the intrepid explorers at Amusing Planet, we came across a rather singular decommission of a former US defensive installation that effectively was only in service for a period of one day before being officially mothballed.
The remaining ensemble of buildings, including the pyramid-like housing of the Missile Site Radar and underground silos that held anti-ballistic missiles (rockets designed to disable in-coming weapons), of the Stanley R Mickelsen Safeguard Complex outside of the Grand Forks Air Base in the state of North Dakota were eventually purchased by a local Hutterite Colony (one of the Plain peoples) at an auction for half a million dollars in 2012 and was built in order to defend the arsenal of Minuteman missiles kept at the Air Base. Provisions of the 1972 Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I treaty) with the Soviet Union allowed signatories to equip themselves with a limited number of such anti-ballistic defences and the base in North Dakota was to be the first component of a large shielding, network. The base came on-line in April 1975 but would not achieve full operational capacity until 1 October 1975; the following day, the US legislature voted to deactivate the programme, recognising that militarily, it had little merit and could not justify the costs. After nearly a decade of development, Congress became convinced that the system devised by Bell Labs was a folly that would not deliver under actual assault and Safeguard was defunded. The new owners—who are attested pacifists—are charged with preserving the historic character of the site but I suppose otherwise are allowed to use it as they see fit. Be sure to visit Amusing Planet at the link up top to learn more and see a whole gallery of pictures of the base.