No this is not a joke. Russ Nielsen bought a decommissioned Minuteman Missile Alert Facility near Holden, MO back in 2013 and for two years after that he has been fighting to be allowed to gain access to the facility that has been sealed off since 1968.
The facility only accessible by an elevator, has been decommissioned by pouring dirt, rubble and cement down a 45 feet elevator shaft its only access point.
Now, 2 years after he finally got access to the facility Mr. Nielsen is selling it on Ebay.
How did it all start
Nielsen, a real estate agent by profession, was first made aware of this facility when his friend Terry Jennings, himself a USAF brat bought a deer hunting lease in the same area back in 2012 and immediately recognized the signs of the US missile defense system. The land itself was for sale so he immediately thought of Nelson.
Nielsen did some research and immediately was captivated by its history. Here was one of 15 underground launch facilities that had been under the command of Whiteman Air Force Base. Each launch site was connected to 10 scattered missile silos, each housing a Minuteman II missile.
There were 1,000 Minuteman missiles in all, buried in the American plains from Missouri to Montana, though none in Kansas.
Problems and solutions
Determined to reclaim the underground facility Nielsen sought out Ret. U.S. Air Force Col. Joe Sutter who had commanded much of the Missouri missile operation.
Sutter enthusiastically agreed to assist Nielsen but he warned him before hand that it’s going to be nasty as he had first hand knowledge on how those sites have been decommissioned.
The military’s intent was to ensure the surface was completely safe and reusable for any farming or other agricultural purposes while part of the arms-reduction treaties with the Soviet Union was to decommission missile sites in a way that ensured they wouldn’t be reactivated.
Adding to those problems was that the site has been decommissioned before the 1970s and before the Environmental Protection Agency and the nation’s awakening to the soil and water dangers in industrial waste.
He was dealing first with the Air Force, and then was going back and forth with the EPA and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
But Nielsen wouldn’t take no for an answer, and It didn’t take long for him to begin accumulating a file box of documents, plans and rewritten plans, many times over.
Two years after and countless of obstacles later on October 15, 2015 the crews finally got to reach and open the main blast door to the facility up until that point covered in dirt cement and water.
Nielsen says that financially it was not worth it but he’s glad that he did it and that he would love to see someone make a museum out of it, or otherwise preserve the site and its piece of American history.
“It would honor the professionalism and commitment of the crews,” he said. “This was an important part of our legacy.”
Missileers left their marks, scratched into metal paneling on an electrical box.
“Ratman was here. Nov. 1973”
“Minuteman Mad Man, Mar. 83”
They spent their work lives 24 hours at a time in this bunker, where, if they ever were called on to do the job they’d trained for, Heefner said, they had a shovel in store to dig themselves out of the escape hatch, presuming that no one on the surface would be around to get them out.
But now, wherever they might be, Ratman and Mad Man can come home again.