If you are in West Virginia, go take a tour of the Greenbrier Bunker, a massive fallout shelter built for Congress in the lush Greenbrier Resort.
Better known as ‘Project Greek Island’, the bunker, completed in 1961, was a place for Congress to “regroup and rebuild if the Soviets nuked the Capitol.” According to this recent write up, the bunker was designed “to hold more than 1,100 evacuees -- 535 members of the House and Senate, and staffers deemed essential to help with the rebuilding of the country. Inside were offices, debate halls and a broadcast studio to send messages to the masses.” There were also decontamination showers for radiation.
“Construction began in a field near the resort's main building. On its face, The Greenbrier was expanding its resort. But near the project was a sprawling fallout facility measuring two football fields in size, drilled 720 feet into a nearby hill.”
Everything about the bunker was hush-hush. A small team of operators, known as the Forsythe Associates, maintained the bunker, posing as the hotel's television-repair crew to keep the secret. The covert operators did such a convincing acting job, in fact, that employees said they still miss the crew, which also fixed their home televisions.
Protecting the evacuees would be at least 3 feet of concrete, radiation detectors and massive blast doors weighing as much as 30 tons. Three massive generators would keep the facility going, and there was enough canned food to last about 60 days.
But because the facility was a fallout shelter and not a bomb shelter, secrecy was of vital importance. About 250 miles from Washington, The Greenbrier bunker would be safe from any attack on the capital. A direct attack, however, would be devastating.
Still, not every secret died with the bunker's exposure. Walls said The Greenbrier is converting parts of the bunker to store backup files and intellectual property for interested companies. Who was doing the storing, however, would remain a mystery, she said.
Nor did the idea of safeguarding Congress disappear. After the terrorist attacks of 2001, Congress took another hard look at how to continue running the government in the event of a strike against Washington. And like The Greenbrier bunker, much of these plans remain a secret.”
Images from the Greenbrier Resort/Bunker Photo Gallery.
Bunker spills secrets to public: The posh Greenbrier resort offers tours of a fallout shelter built to protect Congress, by Mark K. Matthews (Washington Bureau, August 21, 2006)