The reality of nuclear weaponry and its devastation were clear as soon as the first atomic bombs were dropped during World War Two, and a US government doomsday plan had to be born. In the Cold War era, the threat of nuclear war ratcheted up even further; it was everywhere Americans looked. Politicians played on this fear, and the US government took steps to plan for an attack. Testing bombs in the Nevada desert – mock city and all, constructed to assess potential damage – was only part of the doomsday strategy. The US also secretly dug giant bunkers into mountains to protect the American way of life.
It was only by a fluke that one of these hollowed-out mountains, the Raven Rock complex, was discovered by journalist Gerrett Graff, but his investigation into the elaborate compound he discovered yielded some surprising finds.
Garrett Graff Found Directions To The Secret Government Bunker On The Back Of An ID Badge
Washingtonian magazine Garrett Graff looked at the ID badge in confusion. It had been found in a parking lot and brought to him by a colleague – and it appeared to have directions on the back. Graff didn't know where the directions led, but he decided to find out. He checked Google Maps and noticed that they went down a road that ended at the side of a mountain, but that there were "big concrete bunker doors... [a] little guard shack, chain-link fence, and... [a] set of concrete bunker doors beyond."
He didn't know it yet, but he'd found a secret government bunker carved into a mountain in West Virginia.
Graff Eventually Discovered The Raven Rock Bunker – A City Inside A Mountain
Graff got to work researching the bunkers – the idea behind them, when they were built, what they were intended to do, how extensive they were, and how many existed – and was particularly impressed by Raven Rock, a sister bunker to the one he'd found at the end of some West Virginia back roads.
Sanctioned by President Truman, construction on Raven Rock began in 1951. Raven Rock Mountain Complex, also known as Site R, the Underground Pentagon, and the Alternative Joint Command Center, is located in Pennsylvania and was intended to be a relocation site for the Pentagon in the event of a nuclear attack. The first of many bunkers built during the Cold War, Raven Rock includes everything one could need in the face of a nuclear catastrophe. Five three-story buildings house a dining hall that can serve four meals a day, fire and police departments, a post office, and medical facilities. There are roads, power plants, and ventilation systems in place as well.
In the event of a nuclear event, the facility would be totally self-sufficient, and the personnel inside would have enough provisions for 30 days. Two blast doors, 34-tons each, and 1,000 feet of tunnel would withstand any blast, protecting the occupants.
In The Event Of Nuclear Attacks, Wives Weren't Invited To Raven Rock
Each bunker was intended for a specific purpose, and Raven Rock was supposed to be where the president of the United States and the highest officials in government went in the event of a nuclear attack. The president's Cabinet was on the guest-list, as were their secretaries, but their wives were not.
When Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren was handed his ID badge to get into Raven Rock, he asked where his wife's pass was. When he was told there was no badge for Mrs. Warren because only the country's 2,000 most important people were allowed to take shelter, he handed his back and said "you’ll have room for one more important official."
The Declaration Of Independence Was Top On The List To Be Saved; The Constitution Was Not
One of the other functions of the bunkers was historic preservation, and two bunkers were designated for the task, Raven Rock and Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center near Bluemont, Virginia. In order to keep the history of the United States alive, artifacts needed to be chosen, moved underground, and saved for future generations.
The two items at the top of the list to moved to Raven Rock were the Declaration of Independence and a portrait of George Washington, both saved by Dolly Madison from the White House during the War of 1812. It was also decided that the Gettysburg Address would be saved over George Washington's military commission, and a team of park rangers was organized to save the Liberty Bell.