Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pyramid in North Dakota.

Pyramid, what's not to like?

The six billion dollar cost, for one thing and the hazardous waste water cleanup at taxpayer's expense for another. Other than that, awesome.

The site was put up for auction and purchased by a Hutterite faith group for just over half million dollars. Their purchase of the site seems a bit odd in that only 1/3 of the 430 acres can be used for agriculture.

But before all that the site housed America's Safeguard system at the height of the Cold War, a defense that managed long range and short range missles both onsite and offsite. The system was obsolete before it was finished but still useful in negotiating SALT II. The site was in full operation a mere three days.

There is quite a lot of good information on the place, photos of inside the compound, now dilapidated and quite dangerous, and various out buildings.

Cold War Tourist


Artificial Owl

Lone Prairie 

To list just a few, but of all the talk about radar systems, computer systems, missiles and bombs and such, it is the remarks of the people who lived there and worked there I find most interesting of all. Here are a few comments to a piece written about the place at  Ghosts of North Dakota.

M E McCollum says:
My husband was a W-4 and we were stationed at this site. It was a great place to be and we thoroughly enjoyed living in North Dakota. There were 100 housing units on the base and we had a 4 bedroom house and it was very comfortable. The Winters were cold, but beautiful and the summers were very mild. My sons started to school in a school house that was built in the 1800′s and was heated by Coal.
It was a wonderful experience for all of and the people there were the best. Very friendly and helpful.
We even had a garden at one of the farms and the growing season was from June 1 to September 1 and of course, it was daylight until about Midnight.
I have never lived anywhere that I enjoyed more than Nekoma, North Dakota.

Kris says:
Caretaker was Buzzy Holmen from Edmore, ND! He was caretaker for 23 years! Put heart and soul into this place! Also, took time to give tours for many people! That was NOT part of his job description!

Dudley Do-Right says:
Buzzy is a good guy. If he was the one giving you a hard time, it’s probably just because there are some spots around the site where a person could fall in/down and get hurt, and so they like to keep the area clear of unguided visitors. Gotta protect the foolish and/or over adventurous from themselves, at least on state property!

I’ve had the chance to take a guided tour of the site, including some of the missile storage bunkers. It’s pretty fascinating.

Bill says:
I lived on the base while in 9th & 10th grade at Langdon High School. We eventually moved into Langdon as the base neared completion and civilian workers families were no longer allowed to ive on base. I left ND in 1978 and returned only once in 1986, for my 10 year class reunion. Most, if not all of the housing units had already been removed. It’s sad to think about all the millions and likely billions of dollars our government poured into the Safeguard program only to shut it down shortly afterit became operational.

Ren Tescher says:
IIRC, some of the housing units ended up in Williston, stacked together to form a couple(?) of (shoddy) apartment buildings, I installed a wash machine in one of those units back in the early ’80′s.

Kitty says:
I worked at this site when it was just a hole in the ground with people scrambling everywhere–it was 1970. I watched this being built and then abandoned. I married a farmer from here who worked at the Remote Sites, MSR and PAR. I still live here and it always makes me sad to drive by and see the remnants of this Government project. I guess it provided a lot of jobs for awhile.

Blaine says:
I was a security guard there until it closed very very sad used to be a lot of hussel and bussel around Nekoma, use to stop at the bar after work and have a couple and then head home to calvin before I worked there as a security guard heard many stories about all of the new equipment buried in the mounds because they didn’t have paper work for the stuff. so sad to see it that way

Don Axtman says:
Don Axtman: Worked at both sites 1st at PAR site near Concrete ND for Napolean Steel and 2nd for Johnson Control at the MSR site near Nekoma ND. We were preparing for transfer to Montana for the second facility when Nixon shut the progam down.

Darrell Graf says:
i I was a firefighter there from the fall of 74 – and this place became operational 30 Sep 75 adn salt II treaty with Gerald Ford provided for a closure (missile removal) in 76 and as a reasult I left. This was like something out af a james Bond movie, security, blast doors, 9 ft thick walls of steel/concrete – were told it could take a direct hit form an atomic bomb (500 megaton) and survive, most ofthe stuff inside that was technical was on big shock absorbers hanging form ceilieng (as I recall there were 7 floors) and would then swing and remian intact during a strike ont he bldg. this ought to be a museum. the storyy inthe 70′s (prior to the space shuttles) was the US was going to b uild space shuttles, and with the capabilities of this building and the flatland in the area, a 10 mile landing strip would be built to be the spaeport for the shuttles Met and worked with LOTS of good people there!
Darrell Graf

Rebecca Johnson says:
I worked there under the YACC Program in 1978-1979. This was a youth program developed under President Carter. Any other YACC program people out there. We cleaned out the buildings, painted dorms, opened the gym and youth center and did a bunch of other stuff. What exactly was the deal with that program anyway. Now that I am older it really make me wonder.

Mary McCollum says:
We were stationed there from 1972 to 1976 and thoroughly enjoyed our tour of duty there.
The people were warm and friendly and it was a great place to be.

My two sons went to school in Nekoma and never missed a day in the winter because of the weather.

We had so much fun at Senator Young Dam riding snow sleds down the dam. What wonderful memories I have ot Nekoma and Langdon.

I haven’t been back but would really like to some day.

Kris says:
Yes, Buzzy Holmen has been the caretaker for 23 years! I even was hired by him for a few summers to mow the site! This is an amazing and creepy site! I saw every part of this place! Im still in awe when i drive by! Its such a shame that it was sold off and not put in hands of someone involved in historical society or someone that can make use of it and bring in jobs for this area! In Defense of the man in the black truck driving you out of the site, you and many others have NO idea of the dangers that lurk this area! People can be killed not knowing where they are going! Regardless of signs not in perfect site, you still obviously saw them, but continued to ignore them! While your photos are great and informational for us all, I saw so many people just come by without properly receiving approval!! Buzzy Holmen was very good about giving tours and taking time from his work! For future adventures, please be a little more considerate of yourself and others! No one wants to hear of accidents happening because of negligence! With that being said, your photos are very good and bring many memories back to all!

Jeremy Shawley says:
I was there this past summer. ALL THE DOORS WERE OPEN!! ON EVERYTHING! No kidding. Other than the wood ticks, it was by far the strangest place I have ever been. Here is my flickr set from there.

Steve Ellis says:
I was at the anti-ABM rally that took place there in 1970, along with about 1,000 other people – mostly college students like me. It took quite an effort to get there as I recall. I particularly remember that it seemed like every highway patrolman in North Dakota was in attendance. Also, I have a very vivid memory of an unmarked helicopter circling above the crowd with a man leaning out the open door with a camera and telephoto lens taking photos of the crowd. We all looked up at him, shook our fists, and shouted “Get F***ked” !
They still built the base, of course…..but it’s good to know it didn’t amount to much in the end.

Susan McDonald Krull says:
After I graduated from college in 1973, I worked at the Safeguard site for a year. My dad was the civilian site manager. I worked underground in the pyramid…..a fascinating experience. I handled logic chassis for the computer systems….computers back then were the size of a room!
Living in Langdon was quite an experience also….flashback to the movie “American Grafitti”….driving down the one main street through town & to the Dairy Queen!
Seeing these photos is sort of spooky….it’s a shame that the entire project was shut down. Brings back many memories.


rcocean said...

Great Post Chip. I found the comment about how great ND was quite amusing. I have relatives who grew up and there and never went back. Those "cold winters" are OK for about 3 years, but after 18-21 "cold winters" you want something different.

Lem said...

Its our Stonehenge.

Lem said...

Well, it's not my Stonehenge, if you want to get technical about it.

Lem said...

It's my Stonehenge in the sense of the song your Stonehenge is my Stonehenge from California to the New York island.

That would be long island.

Lem said...

It cant be the island of Manhattan, because the point of the song is the determination of a wide embrace, if you will, a wide swath, well maybe not a wide swath, of land. A coat tip to coast tip. and the island of ...

Wait a minute. Nantucket is further out than long island.

Whatever could this mean?

I'm probably most likely not the first person participle disciple to notice that. I cant be, that song has been playing too long, for no one else to notice that.

Lem said...

Anyhow... the Dakotas are a place I hope to visit some day.

rhhardin said...

That's a phased array radar, a then-modern update from steerable dish radars (usually hidden from wind under radomes if they're big).

It can put beams in any direction instantaneously, by changing the phasing of individual elements.

chickelit said...

Pyramidal structure endures the ages. It's no wonder that it's one of the handful of basic molecular structures as well. There are a few others.

ken in tx said...

This reminds me of when I visited Corregidor in Manila Bay, in the 70s. There were no restrictions and nobody there to tell you what you could and couldn't do. You could wander around in the tunnels and see stuff left over from MacArthur's evacuation. There was still a sign saying Dispensary pointing down a dark tunnel.

The side of the island facing Manila was about two feet deap in discarded flip flops. I guess they floated over from the city.