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North Dakota pyramid identified as worthy of National Historic Landmark consideration

On Oct. 7, National Park Service released a study identifying 24 properties across the U.S. with nationally significant connections to the Cold War worthy of consideration for a National Historic Landmark designation, including the pyramid near Nekoma, North Dakota.

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The Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Missile Site Radar Complex at Nekoma, ND, created to defend the country’s nuclear weapons during the Cold War, has been empty for decades.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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NEKOMA, N.D. — The National Park Service has identified the Stanley R. Mickelson Complex, a Cold War-era military installation near Nekoma, North Dakota, as a property worthy of National Historic Landmark consideration for its importance in Cold War history.

On Oct. 7, NPS released a study identifying 24 properties across the U.S. with nationally significant connections to the Cold War worthy of consideration for a National Historic Landmark designation. The study, called “Protecting America: Cold War Defensive Sites,” was created in partnership with the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Offices and the Cold War Advisory Committee. The study outlines the history of the Cold War and identifies locations that are a part of that history.

“As a former Cold War Veteran, I understand this study meets an urgent need to identify Cold War properties that are rapidly disappearing,” said NPS Director Chuck Sams in a NPS press release about the study. “The history of the Cold War is told in just a handful of our national parks and National Historic Landmarks, but there are many opportunities to learn about and discuss this complex and recent history. This study provides a framework for scholars, researchers, and educators to share a deeper history through the power of place.”

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The Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex consists of a four-story high pyramid and surrounding buildings, created to defend the country’s nuclear weapons during the Cold War. It was built as a part of the Safeguard program, a U.S. Army anti-ballistic missile program to defend the Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile silos.

Construction of the site started in 1970, and by Oct. 1, 1975, enough missiles had been installed at the site to consider it “fully combat ready.” But, on Oct. 2, 1975, congress voted to decommission the project and the Safeguard complex was shut down.

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In July, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum announced that data center developer Bitzero, Inc. which focuses on cryptocurrency and sustainability, plans to turn the facility into a secure data center for high-performance computing and data processing.

The NPS study identified 24 sites that can be considered for National Historic Landmark designation, but inclusion on the list does not guarantee that the sites meet requirements for that designation. According to the release, thorough studies of their relative significance and integrity will inform whether the locations meet requirements to be considered a National Historic Landmark for future nominations.

According to the release, places designated as National Historic Landmarks “represent outstanding aspects of American history and culture, possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States and have a high degree of integrity of location, design, setting, material, workmanship, feeling and association.”

Related Topics: MILITARYCAVALIER COUNTY
Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or iharbo@gfherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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