12 Minnesota + Wisconsin Cities Once Had Missile Silos + Some Had Nukes
Today, Vladimir Putin once again made threats regarding nuclear weapons, saying that he may start testing nuclear weapons again if the west continues to aid Ukraine. This comes after a year of intense fighting after Putin's Russian Army invaded Ukraine.
All of a sudden the cold war doesn't seem so cold. While most experts agree it won't come to nuclear war, it still kinda lingers. The fact that weapons are available at a turn of a key that could annihilate the planet is a little hard to digest.
I started thinking back to the Cold War and wondered, have we ever had any nuclear missile silos in Minnesota or Wisconsin? The answer is a little complicated but ultimately is yes. There was a period of time we could launch nuclear weapons from multiple sites in Minnesota + Wisconsin.
Cold War Background
It was the nuclear heyday in the 1950s. The answer to everything was to prepare to nuke it. That's when we saw both the United States and the Soviet Union produce way more nuclear weapons than would ever be needed in a conflict.
The worry was that if a nuclear attack came from Russia, it would come from bombers crossing over the North Pole and attacking cities in the United States. So, the plan the military had was to put in missile silos around major cities that could shoot down Russian bombers as a last line of defense. The first line of these missiles was called Nike Ajax Missiles. These used conventional warheads. However, many of them were converted the Nike Hercules missiles that used a nuclear warhead. The thought was a nuke would take out a squadron of bombers, not just one.
Minnesota Missile Sites
Minnesota had four missile sites that surrounded the Twin Cities metro. I found some of the information in an older article from The Star Tribune. They were in Roberts, Bethel, Farmington, and Watertown. Some of these still exist, like the Farmington, Minnesota location. You can see some of the buildings right there. Apparently, it's still in pretty good condition considering it's been closed for years.
The Library Of Congress actually has documented some of the pictures of the abandoned missile silo at the Farmington site.
It's interesting to see how they had escape hatches and vents for the underground missile silo. Like in this photo, there was a ladder to escape to the surface next to a fallout room.
Check out this YouTube video with more history about this specific site.
Wisconsin Missile Sites
The sites in Wisconsin surrounded Milwaukee. There were originally 8 of them built according to Wisconsin NPR. They were in Waukeshaw, River Hills, Franklin, Lannon, Cudahy, Muskego, and two in Milwaukee.
Some of these closed eventually, and only three sites ever carried nuclear warheads in Wisconsin: Waukesha, River Hills, and one of the Milwaukee sites.
You can still see a replica of the missiles.
There's actually a replica of a Nike missile at what is fittingly called 'Missile Park' in St. Bonifacius.
All of these sites were eventually closed by the 1970s. They were disarmed, and either sold off or repurposed by the government.
So, if you ever wondered if we had nuclear weapons in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The answer is yes, but not long-range attack missiles. These were nuclear defensive missiles.