North in November

Copyright 2013, Scott D. Murdock


I really don't recommend visiting the far northeast portion of North Dakota in late November, but I'm sure glad I did. The General Services Administration (GSA) was auctioning the main complex and the four remote sites that make up the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex. They were offering tours to prospective buyers. I learned on a Tuesday that the next tour was a week away--so I had just a few days to plan this adventure before I started driving!

Sunday, 25 Nov 2012

I made an early start from Denver, driving northeast into South Dakota.

Pierre AAFld SD  This is now Pierre Regional Airport (PIR), located at 44-22-55, 100-17-10.  During W.W.II the Pierre airport was improved under the Development of Landing Areas for National Defense (DLAND) program  This airfield served 2AF during the war, first under Rapid City AAFld then under Casper AAFld.
(Hangar)

(Hangar)

(Hangar)

(Hangar)
(Building)

(Building)

(Building)

(Building)

(Foundation)

(Foundation)

(Foundation)

I stayed overnight in Pierre, South Dakota. This was the long day of the trip, at 560 miles.

Monday, 26 Nov 2012

From Pierre, I drove north.

Aberdeen Airport SD This is now Aberdeen Regional Airport (ABR), located at 45-27-15, 098-25-35.  During W.W.II the Aberdeen airport was improved under the Development of Landing Areas for National Defense (DLAND) program.  Anderson & Brennan Flying Service operated an AAF contract glider school here in 1942 and possibly into 1943.  By late 1943, this was showing as a Navy field in airport directories.  I did not observe any buildings or structures from the W.W.II era.

Grand Forks AF Msl Site A-07 ND (9463, JFSW)  This Minuteman Launch Facility (LF) was activated 22 June 1966.  In about 1974, it was upgraded to Minuteman III.  It was inactivated 28 August 1996.
(General view)

(Gate)

Grand Forks AF Msl Site A-06 ND (9568, JFSV)  This Minuteman Launch Facility (LF) was activated 22 June 1966.  In about 1974, it was upgraded to Minuteman III.  It was inactivated 12 July 1996.
(General view)

(Gate)

Grand Forks AF Msl Site D-32 ND (9481, JFUA)  This Minuteman Launch Facility (LF) was activated 3 June 1966.  In about 1974, it was upgraded to Minuteman III.  It was inactivated 29 April 1996.
(General view)

(Gate)

Grand Forks AF Msl Site D-31 ND (9480, JFTZ)  This Minuteman Launch Facility (LF) was activated 3 June 1966.  In about 1974, it was upgraded to Minuteman III.  It was inactivated 19 June 1996.
(General view)

(General view with sign)

(Sign close-up)

I arrived at my lodging in Langdon, North Dakota. This day covered 508 miles, making the inbound total 1,068 miles.

Tuesday, 27 Nov 2012

The drive south from the hotel to the trip's main attraction was a short one.  The various properties are together called the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (SRMSC). The hub of the operation was the Missile Site Radar (MSR) SIte.  The SRMSC also included the Perimeter Acquisition Radar (PAR) site, still in use by the USAF as Cavalier AFS, and four remote Sprint launch sites.  There was also a network of wells and water booster stations.  The SRMSC reached initial operational capability in April 1975, and attained full operational status on 1 October 1975.  The very next day, Congress voted to deactivate the system.  Operations terminated in November 1975.  For detailed information I highly recommend Dave Novak's excellent web site.  My thanks to Dave for helping me make sense of my photos!

SRMSC Missile Site Radar (MSR) Site (38522)  This was the main site of the SRMSC.  In addition to housing the large concrete radar structure, both Spartan and Sprint missiles were emplaced in launchers on this property.  The main structure is divided into four parts, the earth-covered Missile Site Control Building (MSCB), the Missile Site Radar (MSR) (two above-ground levels of the MSCB), the earth-covered Missile Site Power Plant (MSPP), and the Personnel, Equipment, and Utility Tunnel (PEUT) that connected them.  This installation also had housing, administration, maintenance, and recreational facilities.  The property has languished for decades under Army control, with the idea that it might be pressed back into service.  Finally, about ten years ago, the Army declared it surplus and proceeded through the disposal process.  I was fortunate to get a tour from the General Services Administration, the agency that auctioned the property for sale.  My thanks to our tour guide Jerry for showing us the property. 
(General view)

(General view)

(General view)

(General view)

(Limited Area Sentry Station (LASS))

(LASS)

(LASS)

(LASS)

(LASS interior)

(LASS interior)

(LASS interior)

(LASS interior)

(Missile Site Power Plant (MSPP) showing air intake and exhaust stacks)

(Missile Site Radar (MSR) "turret" showing phased array element and smaller Q Channel antenna to right)

(Heat sink)

(MSR "turret" showing emergency escape door on level 3)

(MSR "turret" showing emergency escape door on level 3)

(MSR "turret" showing nozzles to spray deicing fluid on radar array)

(MSR "turret")

(Missile Site Control Building (MSCB) entrance tunnel with non-historic overhead door)

(MSCB interior)

(PEUT interior, looking down the entrance tunnel)

(MSCB level 1 corridor viewed from the PEUT)

(PEUT interior)

(MSCB level 1 corridor viewed from the PEUT)

(MSPP level 1 corridor, looking past PEUT (open ceiling) then MSCB level 1 corridor)

(MSPP level 1 main corridor)

(MSPP level 1, probably one of the prime mover modules)

(MSCB interior)

(MSPP level 1 main corridor)

(MSCB interior, level 1 main corridor)

(MSCB interior)

(MSCB interior)

(MSCB interior)

(MSCB interior)

(MSCB interior)

(MSCB interior)

(MSCB interior)

(MSR interior, level 3)

(MSR interior, level 3)

(MSR interior, level 3)

(MSR interior, level 3)

(MSCB interior)

(MSCB entrance with non-historic door)

(MSCB entrance)

(MSCB entrance)

(Universal Missile Building (UMB) loading dock)

(UMB, entrance to explosives service magazine)

(UMB)

(Warhead Handling Building (WHB))

(Exclusion Area Sentry Station (EASS))

(EASS)

(EASS)

(Sprint missile launch cells)

(Sprint missile launch cells)

(Sprint missile launch cells)

(Sprint missile Launch Area Antenna and maintenance platform)

(Spartan missile launch cell showing exhaust duct cover left, launch chamber duct cover right, and Launch Area Antenna (vertical pipe))

(Spartan missile launch cells)

(Spartan missile launch cells)

(Spartan missile launch cells)

(Spartan missile launch cells)

(WHB and EASS)

(Missile launch cells with MSR in bacground)

(MSR and UMB)

(MSR/MSCB and MSPP)

(UMB left, EASS center, WHB right)

(LASS and Industrial building)

(Industrial building)

(Industrial building)

(Industrial building interior)

(Pump house and covered water storage reservoir)

(Pump house)

(Administration building)

(Administration building)

(Administration building)

(Commercial telephone company building)

(Community center)

(Community center)

(Community center interior)

(Community center interior)

(Community center interior)

(Community center interior)

(Community center interior)

(Community center interior)

(Community center interior)

(Community center interior)

(Community center interior)

(Chapel)

(Chapel)

(Chapel)

(Chapel interior)

(Chapel interior)

(Gymnasium interior)

SRMSC Remote Sprint Launcher (RSL) Site #2 ND (38523)  Due to recent snow and lack of cleared roads, we could only visit two of the four remote sites.  This one had 12 Sprint missile silos.
(Remote Launch Operations Building (RLOB) showing exhaust stack left, air intake stack center, entry tunnel right)

(General view of site showing sign)

(Security fence showing tie-down cabling)

(Security fence showing tie-down cabling)

(Limited Area Sentry Station (LASS) and gate)

(LASS and gate)
(LASS and gate)
(LASS viewed from top of RLOB, with entrance tunnel in foreground)
(RLOB)

(RLOB)

(RLOB)

(RLOB)

(RLOB interior)

(RLOB interior)

SRMSC Remote Sprint Launcher (RSL) Site #3 ND (38524)  This one had 16 Sprint missile silos.  This is the only RSL site with the Exclusion Area Sentry Station and security lighting intact.
(General view from outer gate)
(Limited access area entrance)
(RLOB and Exclusion Area Sentry Station (EASS))

(LASS)

(LASS)

(LASS)
(LASS)
(LASS)
(LASS)
(LASS interior)

(LASS interior)

(LASS interior)

(Security lighting)

(Security lighting)
(Vehicle sally port at site entrance)

(Exclusion area gate and EASS)

(Fences around exclusion area)
(EASS)
(EASS)
(EASS)
(EASS)
(EASS)
(Sprint missile launcher cells)
(Sprint missile launcher cells)
(Sprint missile launcher cells)
(Sprint missile launcher cells)
(Sprint missile launcher cells)
(RLOB)
(RLOB)
(RLOB)
(RLOB interior)

(RLOB interior)

(RLOB interior)

(RLOB interior)

(RLOB interior)

(RLOB interior)

(RLOB interior)

(RLOB interior)

(RLOB interior)

(RLOB interior)

(RLOB interior)

(RLOB interior)

(RLOB interior)

(RLOB interior)

(RLOB interior)

(RLOB interior, sloping entrance tunnel leading down to blast doors at start of main corridor)

I returned to Langdon for the night, after driving only 83 miles on this day.

Wednesday, 28 Nov 2012

From Langdon I worked my way southeast toward Grand Forks, surveying the SRMSC water system properties along the way.

SRMSC Water Booster Station #1 ND  The SRMSC had three water booster stations, and I found two of them on the Oscar Zero trip a few years ago.  Thanks to a map at the MSR Site, I was able to visit the third.
(General view)

(General view)

(Building)

(Building)

SRMSC Water Well #1 ND  A group of ten water wells fed the SRMSC.  Thanks to the above-mentioned map, I was able to observe all ten.
(General view)

(General view)

(Gate)

SRMSC Water Well #2 ND
(General view)

(General view)

(Building)

(Building)

(Building)

(Fence)

SRMSC Water Well #3 ND
(General view)

(General view)

SRMSC Water Well #4 ND
(General view)

(General view)

SRMSC Water Well #5 ND  This one was being serviced, and maintenance trucks blocked the view of the building, so I didn't take any photographs. 

SRMSC Water Well #6 ND
(General view)

SRMSC Water Well #7 ND
(General view)

SRMSC Water Well #8 ND
(General view)

SRMSC Water Well #9 ND
(General view)

SRMSC Water Well #10 ND
(General view)

Hector Field ND  This is now Hector International Airport (FAR), located at 46-54-45, 96-48-50. During W.W.II the Fargo airport was improved under the Development of Landing Areas for National Defense (DLAND) program.  Much of the airfield is still used by the Air National Guard, and I observed no AAF/USAF remnants on the public portion.

Watertown AAFld SD  This is now Watertown Regional Airport (ATY), at 44-54-55, 97-09-15.  During W.W.II the Watertown airport was improved under the Development of Landing Areas for National Defense (DLAND) program.  The airfield was built in 1942, and served until 1944 as a 2AF sub-base to Sioux City AAB.
(Building)

(Building)

(Building)

Raymond Communications Site Ground Wave Emergency Network (GWEN) 664 SD (TZWP)  This relay node had the less-common 306' tower, and was also listed as Clark.  It was activated in the mid 1980s, and was disposed of on 1 December 1999. 
(Tower)

(Tower)

(Equipment shelters)

This was another long day, 547 miles. I stopped in Mitchell, South Dakota, for the night.

Thursday, 29 Nov 2012

From Mitchell I drove west and southwest into Nebraska, after first checking out the local airport.

Mitchell AAFld SD  This is now Mitchell Municipal Airport (MHE), located at 43-46-30, 98-02-25.  During W.W.II the Mitchell airport was improved under the Development of Landing Areas for National Defense (DLAND) program.  The airfield was built in 1942, and served 2AF until 1944 as a sub-base to Sioux City AAB.
(Hangar)

(Hangar)

(Hangar)

(Hangar)

(Hangar)

(Elevated water storage tank)

(Elevated water storage tank detail)

(Elevated water storage tank detail)

(Elevated water storage tank detail)

Kearney AFB NE  This is now Kearney Regional Airport (EAR), at 40-43-30, 99-00-25. Constructed in 1942, Kearney AAFld served 2AF during W.W.II.  After the war, it was briefly a Strategic Air Command base, wearing the Air Force Base designation from early 1948 until early 1950, when it stopped showing up in the installations directory.
(Hangar)

(Hangar)

Atlanta POW Camp NE  Planning began for this camp near Holdrege in June 1943, and construction was completed by November 1943.  This POW camp had a capacity of 3,000 German prisoners.  I believe the concrete structure is a tower for an elevated water storage tank.
(General view showing chimney, historical marker, and concrete tower)

(Concrete tower)

(Concrete tower)
(Chimney)

(Chimney)

(Historical marker)

My overnight stop was North Platte, Nebraska. Miles for this day were 478.

Friday, 30 Nov 2012

I aimed the car west for the 268 miles to Denver. This made the outbound leg 1,293 miles. The entire trip was 2,444 miles.


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