The Final Resort

In 1958, at the behest of the Eisenhower administration, the Greenbrier facility was designed to shelter the Congress in case of a nuclear fall-out. It was maintained as a fully operational self contained unit for 30 years, until Washington Post published an article revealing all, going against congressional requests to desist. The next day began the deactivation of the facility, and it was returned to the Greenbrier in 1995. Go read the article, its pretty cool.

The bunker was built under the West Virginia wing of the hotel, the wing built first to serve as camouflage for the bunker. The story was that an exhibition hall and two auditoriums were being built under the West Virginia wing. This was true, but these were actually parts of the bunker, that would be used for stated purposes. In case of nuclear fall out, they would be closed off into the bunker and become congressional offices and chambers for the House and Senate.

There were four entrances to the bunker, all shielded by thick steel doors built by Mosler safe company and filled with reinforced concrete.

The long hallway inside was lined with ledges piled high with military c-rations and later with ready-to-eat meals.

The senators were to be evacuated to the Greenbrier by road, train or plane, then decontaminated and housed in dorms. There were slightly better rooms with twin beds for the leaders of the senate.

From the outside, its hard to tell where the bunker is, with the elaborate layout of the place and all the landscaping!

After deactivation, the facility was opened up for limited tours, like the one we took. We were given no more information than what is in the article, even less, if you will. The only other thing that we were told is that it is now being used to store data. The only portions included in the tour are those mentioned in the article, plus the water plant in the basement. No cameras, cellphones or electronic equipment are allowed in. The Greenbrier bunkers remain shrouded in mystery.

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About purplesque

Psychiatrist, cook, bookworm, photographer. Not necessarily in that order.
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16 Responses to The Final Resort

  1. M-----l says:

    Wow, that's really cool. I love that postcard. I used to draw pictures of houses with hidden passages and secret underground areas a lot when I was a kid. It was a fascination of sorts. I think I would've enjoyed that tour. Looks like fun.

  2. Neat neat neat.Brings back some very dark memories of trying to hide under desks at school during the drills, and running inside the house when planes flew over, and putting extra cans of food and water in the basement "just in case" — but fascinating to see.Nice that they keep it going in whatever fashion it is….and somehow I can't imagine our current crop of lawmakers acutally being content to live with yellow lockers and bunkbeds. heeeeeee.

  3. Purplesque says:

    It was cool, like going back in a 70s cold war novel. We also got to see the incinerator where they would burn all the trash, biological waste and dead bodies if need be. There was some very cool looking 60s style communication equipment, right besides little Chippendale chairs upholstered in orange.

  4. Emjay says:

    Wow! What a fascinating story! Makes you wonder what else is around the country "waiting" to be exposed. I doubt this was the only one of its kind………?!?!?

  5. Karen Lynn says:

    That was a very interesting tour. Thank you for sharing the pictures! Did they come from postcards? Congratulate A for me, I forgot to say that yesterday :))

  6. Purplesque says:

    Yes..the word is that they have relocated to a different facility, obviously. But I Loved the sense of mystery, hush-hush operations, was all in the air.:)

  7. Purplesque says:

    Naah..they don't even try to deny that there might be several other similar locations around the country. But the people of Greenbrier working for the bunker, some of whom had never even told their families what they were doing, were very angry with the Washington Post!

  8. Purplesque says:

    Three out of five did. We were allowed to take pictures of the camouflaged pedestrian door and the courtyard outside.

  9. Purplesque says:

    Oh, and I'll be happy to send you the postcards if you like. 🙂

  10. M-----l says:

    Oooh, yeah! I'll send you one back so we're even.

  11. lauowolf says:

    Scary to think they thought this kind of thing would have been any use.

  12. Purplesque says: was not a direct bomb shelter, just a fallout place, but still..

  13. lauowolf says:

    "Just a fallout place"… but the half-life of some of the fallout is in the thousands of years,Pretty long time to be hanging out in bunk beds!

  14. Purplesque says:

    The supplies would have lasted only three months, anyway. Presumably, it would keep them safe long enough to come up with plan B.

  15. lauowolf says:

    Plan B???I'm cracking up.(Seeing lots of little congressional committees meeting in the rec room, trying desperately to get a clue,)

  16. Purplesque says:

    Lol..or they may not have needed one, considering the world would surely have come to an end..

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