Langdon, ND

The Abandoned Pyramid of North Dakota that Was Part of a Military Facility

Diana Rus

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The Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex Missile Site RadarPhoto bySafeguard Program/ Wikipedia

Near Langdon, North Dakota, there was a cluster of military facilities known as the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (SRMSC), which served as a foundation for the Safeguard anti-ballistic missile program run by the US Army.

What makes this military facility different, is the pyramid structure that used to be a missile site radar

The military facility launched and controlled 30 LIM-49 Spartan anti-ballistic missiles and 70 Sprint anti-ballistic missiles.

The 321st Strategic Missile Wing's Minuteman launchers, located at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, were included in the complex's deployment area.

The United States was allowed to install a single ABM system to guard a region containing ICBM launchers, under the conditions of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The maximum number of launchers and missiles allowed by the treaty was 100.

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Safeguard Complex Missile Site RadarPhoto byStanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex/ Wikipedia

The Pyramid- a Missile Site Radar

The Missile Site Radar was the control of the Safeguard system. It had computers and a phased array radar required to track and hit back at incoming ICBM warheads.

The Safeguard Program was an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system developed by the US Army to defend the Minuteman ICBM silos of the US Air Force from attack and maintain the US nuclear deterrent fleet. It was primarily designed to defend against situations involving limited Soviet attacks, a very small Chinese ICBM fleet, and other limited-launch scenarios.

The Soviet Union could easily defeat it with a full-scale strike. It was designed to allow for progressive enhancements over time to give similar lightweight coverage over the whole United States.

The radar building is a multi-story pyramid. 30 Spartan missile launchers and 16 Sprint missile launchers were part of the MSR installation.

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Aerial image of the MSR sitePhoto byStanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex/ Wikipedia

Operation and Closing 4 months later

On 1 April 1975, the site started to operate, and on 1 October 1975, it achieved maximum operational capacity. The cost of the project, adjusted for inflation, was almost $15 billion.

The House of Representatives, however, decided to decommission the project on October 2, 1975, after concluding that it was inefficient.

After barely four months of being fully operational, the facility was shut down on 10 February 1976. The Spring Creek Hutterite Colony of Forbes, North Dakota, bought it at auction for $530,000 in December 2012.

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The PAR, now known as EPARCS, is still in operationPhoto byStanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex/ Wikipedia

Military Facility

The Missile Site Radar (MSR) site, close to Nekoma, North Dakota, was the main focus of the complex. This location is home to the Missile Site Radar itself, 30 Spartan missiles, and 16 Sprint missiles with shorter ranges. All missiles were stored in launch silos that were underground.

The Perimeter Acquisition Radar (PAR), a phased array radar with a separate installation, was designed to detect incoming targets. The Perimeter Acquisition Radar Characterization System (PARCS), situated at Cavalier Air Force Station, still uses the radar and the facility.

The Historic American Engineering Record, a Heritage Documentation Program, contains a list of the MSR and PSR sites.

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A Sprint missile being loaded for test firing at White Sands Missile Range, 1967.Photo bySafeguard Program/ Wikipedia

Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (SRMSC)

The Cavalier County Job Development Authority (CCJDA) purchased portions of the property, including the Pyramid, in 2020 for $462,900.

The CCJDA plans to develop an educational historical center, restore the property, and either sell or lease the pyramid to a data center or similar company. The remaining real estate belongs to the Hutterite colony.

The site was named after Stanley R. Mickelsen, a former commanding general of the United States Army Air Defense Command.

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Aerial image of Remote Sprint Launch Site No. 2.Photo bySafeguard Program/ Wikipedia

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