Kimball County, Kimball
This small, quaint county on the high plains of western Nebraska was once best known as being the location of the highest point in Nebraska and the site of the first oil discovery in Nebraska (in 1950). But in the 1960s, the “Oil Capital of Nebraska” became the ICBM capital of America as silos were constructed to house the then-new Minuteman missiles. Today Kimball County is the “Missile Capital of the World,” with over 200 Minuteman III ICBMs, all carrying multiple nuclear warheads, located in its immediate area.
Kimball County is located on the high plains of southwestern Nebraska. The high point of the state (5424 feet) is located in the extreme southwestern corner of the county and the flat, open plains around the town of Kimball are actually several thousand feet in elevation. Originally established as a railway stop, Kimball later added ranching and oil to its economy. But it was the development of ICBMs that put Kimball on the map of Top Secret America. Kimball had a lot of advantages as a location to base ICBMs, such as plenty of open land and a low population density in case the Soviets decided on a pre-emptive strike. The first Minuteman ICBM silos were constructed in 1962, and today the spacious open grasslands of Kimball County (along with adjoining territory just across the borders of Colorado and Wyoming) are pockmarked with silos housing Minuteman III missiles, each of which contain multiple warheads.
NEBRASKA MAP TOURIST Photo Gallery
What’s There: Kimball itself is a modest town of about 2,500 people and is the county seat. The silos themselves can be detected as fenced areas in the distance; power lines and gated roads can be seen leading to many silos. Most silos are on private land and trespassing is generally prohibited, and any attempt to enter the area of any silo would certainly result in arrest or possibly the use of lethal force. In other words, you can look but you’d better not touch.
Key Facilities: Since you can’t see an actual missile or silo close up, you might want to drop by Gotte Park in downtown Kimball to see an actual Titan I missile. However, this missile was never in service in Kimball (it was based near Chico, California instead) and at the time this book was written the top section of the missile was missing because of wind damage. But hey, it’s better than no missile at all!
Getting a Look Inside: There’s no way you’ll ever see the inside of the missile silos here. Instead, you’ll have to be content with cruising the country roads while armed with a pair of binoculars in case you spot a distant silo. Maybe you’d enjoy finding an isolated spot along a road, pulling over, turning off the engine, listening to the wind, looking at the vast open skies, and thinking to yourself, gee, there’s enough firepower around me to annihilate every living thing on the whole goddamn planet.
Getting There: Kimball is located in the southwestern “panhandle” of Nebraska near the junction with Colorado and Wyoming; it can be accessed from an exit off Interstate 80.
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