Former missile site near Sturgis sells in auction

RAPID CITY, S.D. – A piece of history sold Tuesday – a piece many don’t see and might not know exists.

Sitting on nearly 58 acres of land, 12 miles east of Sturgis is a Titan I missile site, one of three in South Dakota. Behind 1960’s chain link sits rubble and ponds of water but beneath the ground lays history.

Nearly 60 years ago, the land was run by a different mindset. The Cold War Era drove a need to maintain missile sites around the country.

“There were a lot of people here who stayed on site, worked here 24/7,” said Bob Bertolotto, local real estate agent managing the silo’s auction. “There was living quarters, there was a mess hall, all that was underground.”

The Titan program launched in 1955, creating the first of it’s kind intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs.

In South Dakota, three sites were operated out of Ellsworth Air Force Base – New Underwood, Hermosa, and Sturgis.

Nothing launched out of the site but it was manned for nearly a decade in case of an attack. But near the end of that decade, the phase out of the program was underway and the silo’s were left to coalesce with the South Dakota landscape.

Bertolotto says the land has exchanged hands a few times since the land was abandoned by the Air Force. The role the land played in the Cold War and in prefacing the advancement of missile warfare for decades to come will remain in the history of the land, even though that history is submerged in water.

Items left on the land by the previous owner were sold in auction Tuesday morning. The land itself was auctioned off later in the day for $119,000.

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