Preserving "A Fair Chance For a Free People" - Karl E. Mundt

EROS Data Center

"He [Mundt] was a power, he got the thing [EROS Data Center] going." 1

The combined efforts of South Dakota's House Representative (Congressman) Ben Reifel, and Senator Mundt helped bring EROS Data Center to South Dakota. They used their positions on their respective appropriations committees to secure funding for the planning of the data center facility.

Due to the task the EROS Data Center would have to complete, it was necessary that it be located in the central United States. Mundt realized the impact and wonderful opportunities that The EROS Data Center could provide for his home state of South Dakota. Using his position on the Senate Appropriations Committee and through many various efforts, including a letter to NASA, Senator Mundt was committed to campaigning that the center's site be South Dakota and that it receive the necessary funding.

"Apart from the national publicity that the EDC would generate, Mundt envisioned that its coming to South Dakota would advance economic development and bring "space-age" technology and technological jobs to the state." 2

Unfortunately, in November of 1969, Senator Mundt suffered a stroke that prevented him from being actively involved in the process to officially secure Sioux Falls as the site for the facility. However, Mundt's intentions were advocated and pursued by his staff and administrative assistant Bob McCaughey, Senator Milton Young of North Dakota, and continuing efforts on the part of Representative Ben Reifel.

Apart from the political process, Mundt continued to play a key role for the cause he so strongly supported. Using his talent for relating to people on a personal level, he wrote a heartfelt letter to his former Senate colleague and friend President Nixon. The letter implored President Nixon to name Sioux Falls as the data center site, and to release the necessary funding to proceed with the project. With the aid and support of Senator Milton R. Young, a letter was sent to President Nixon on February 17, 1970.
Letter to President Nixon

"On March 30, 1970, Mundt's office issued a press release announcing that SF had been named as the site for the EDC."

To pay tribute to the efforts of Senator Karl Mundt, securing EROS Data Center at it's current location, the road leading east off Highway 77 toward EROS Data Center was named "Mundt Highway." On August 7, 1973 the Karl E. Mundt Federal Building, a building erected on land northeast of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was dedicated as the EROS Data Center.

For more information about EROS Data Center and Karl E. Mundt visit:
EROS Data Center Website
Karl's involvement with EROS Data Center

  1. Walter Conahan, Sen. Karl Mundt's former press secretary, from a 1989 Argus Leader interview.
  2. Johnson, Rebecca L. What It Took: A History of the USGS EROS Data Center. Sioux Falls, SD: The Center for Western Studies, 1998. 7-12.
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