Congressional Fallout Shelter at the Greenbrier Resort
America's post-nuclear-attack chambers of Congress.
Known as Project X, Project Casper, and eventually as Project Greek Island, and designed with relative luxury, this congressional fallout shelter remained a state secret until 1992.
In the mid-1950s, the United States government covertly arranged to build a fallout shelter to house the entire U.S. Congress underneath the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV. Using the building of a new hotel addition—paid for by the Eisenhower administration—as a cover, the government set out to build a Congress deep beneath the ground. As part of this Faustian deal, the five-star hotel agreed that in case of nuclear war—or even just a realistic threat—the entire hotel would be commandeered by the government, hot tubs and all.
A post-nuclear seat of congressional government, this was truly intended to house only the congressmen and their aids. It was not designed to accommodate their spouses or children, who would presumably have to find shelter somewhere else.
To help ensure its secrecy the bunker was operated by a dummy company known as Forsythe Associates and workers on the bunker all dressed as hotel audiovisual employees. Any calls going in and out of the bunker were routed through the hotel switchboard so it looked as if they originated from and were going to the Resort.
The shelter was fully equipped and among the standard bunk beds, televisions, and furniture that populate the “Graceland of Atomic Tourism,” there are a few very curious items. Among these are a special room meant for holding and calming members of Congress who can’t handle the stress, and an incinerator meant for “pathological waste,” or the Congresspeople’s irradiated bodies. A huge 100-foot radio tower installed approximately four miles away was connected to the bunker so that the congressmen could broadcast emergency messages.
Completed in 1958, the shelter is no longer operative since its location was revealed in a 1992 Washington Post article.
Currently, the shelter houses the offices of a data storage company, but for three decades it was fully stocked with food, furniture, and even current magazines. The shelter even had two mock chambers of Congress, complete with flags, microphones, and pictures of the founding fathers, all equipped to carry on U.S. government operations in case of nuclear war.
There are now guided tours throughout the week.
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