A sentry watching for hundreds of miles, alone on the plain
November 18, 2016 12:38 PM   Subscribe

The pyramid at the end of the world: In rural North Dakota, a small county and [a group of Hutterites] are caught in a stand-off over a decaying piece of America’s atomic history.
posted by frimble (16 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Here's a permalink to NukeMap, so you can drop thermonuclear devices on it for fun.

Minuteman launch sites could stand up to to 700 PSI overpressure, but there might be some kind of convoluted MAD logic about why an ABM launch control site might not need to survive as long as a ICBM launch site.
posted by the Real Dan at 1:35 PM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

I found this article fascinating! I live in Manitoba, just over an hour's drive from the pyramid, and I've actually had Sunday buffet (and shots) at the Pain Reliever because my sister-in-law has family in Nekoma*. There are also several Hutterite colonies here in MB and everyone has dealt with them in one way or another. So it's known around here that the Hutterites bought that site, but it's interesting to read about why, and also its history.**

*Fun fact! "In Nekoma" sounds just like you're saying "In a coma," which has led to some amusing misunderstandings. For instance, when my brother says he's having an Amazon order shipped to his "brother-in-law in Nekoma".
** Cold War relics and massive government projects are always interesting, but they probably creep me out more than they should thanks to Oxenfree, Stranger Things, Welcome to Night Vale, The X Files, &c &c

posted by Monster_Zero at 1:46 PM on November 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

Oh and: the glowing banner image is probably not necessary. As the other pictures will show you, that thing is plenty unsettling on its own.
posted by Monster_Zero at 1:47 PM on November 18, 2016

I get a whole Atrocity-Archives-Lovecraft vibe from this thing like there's a great cover story but it was actually built to bring in unspeakable terrors from an unknown dimension. I'm sure the Hutterites have some forbidden lore and they're just making sure the gate stays closed.
posted by GuyZero at 1:50 PM on November 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

Reading the article, it doesn't seem like anyone is really caught in a stand-off. It seemed like the county was kind of resigned about the whole situation, and the Hutterites didn't care that much either.
posted by rikschell at 2:07 PM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I feel a certain obligation to pour one out for the Sprint missile, the other, last-ditch-ier, component of Safeguard. Sprint accelerated from its launcher at about 100g, or zero to Mach 10 in 5 seconds.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:07 PM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Why does every named person in this article have a first and last name except Elder Samuel? Are Hutterites somehow infra dig?
posted by Bruce H. at 2:33 PM on November 18, 2016

being a hutterite sounds quite attractive.
posted by andrewcooke at 2:34 PM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Trump make Nekoma great again!
posted by TedW at 3:59 PM on November 18, 2016

I remember reading about SafeGuard in Popular Science when it was being built.
posted by Bringer Tom at 5:45 PM on November 18, 2016

I wouldn't mind waking up to hear that Trump is in Nekoma.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:09 PM on November 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

You may want to fact-check how long the site was actually operational.
posted by onesidys at 9:06 PM on November 18, 2016

Fun coincidence: "Nekoma" is also the Hebrew word for "revenge".
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:24 AM on November 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

I don't feel the article did a very good job of explaining that the point of this base was last ditch defense, not assured destruction. It was the real world basis for the game, "Missile Command".

The pyramid was a phased array radar for tracking inbound ICBMs. The missiles were meant to intercept them and destroy them before they destroyed American cities.
posted by dustsquid at 10:49 AM on November 19, 2016

Fusion article states the Micklesen complex cost 5.7 billion$ but CBS reports it cost 500 million$.
Operational for less then 24 hours, let's round up to 25 for parking and lunch. What's that, 20 million$ an hour. Looks like a Dali temple to Aten.
posted by clavdivs at 1:13 PM on November 19, 2016

That's interesting; there are several such abandoned bunkers north of Great Falls, but not as extensive. They are square, have 10 foot thick concrete walls, and construction work on them was stopped in May, 1973, when START was approved. I went to one last summer; there are still crayon marks on the last slabs poured, dated 5/73, right before they quit. Kids gather to party in them, spray graffiti, shoot rifles from the tops. The closest town of a ~1000 people is 35 miles away. Someone sledge-hammered down some thin slabs meant to seal off stairways when work was stopped, so you can go to the top deck and try to keep from busting your ankles on protruding rebar and huge bolt heads. Conrad, the nearby towns has wanted to buy the site for their own Cold War Museum.


http://w3.uwyo.edu/~jimkirk/abm.html (has Google Map coords.)

The Hutterites: they are not as shy or pure as the article suggests. The colonies in MT are very industrious, run their own big businesses, and the kids go to the public library in town every chance they get to web surf, if they don't have their own iPhones. Kids leave the colonies every year to go out on their own, not willing to put up all religion, no freedom, no money, and no marriage or job prospects within the colony.
posted by songdogtech at 3:06 PM on November 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

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