The reality of nuclear combat's devastation was clear as soon as the first atomic weapons were dropped during World War II, leading the U.S. government to develop a "doomsday plan"out of perceived necessity. In the Cold War era, the threat of impending nuclear warfare – and the fear it caused in the American citizenship – escalated even further. Politicians played on this fear, and the government began planning for a potential attack. Testing bombs on mock cities in the Nevada desert – constructed to assess potential damage – was only part of the doomsday strategy. The U.S. also secretly dug giant bunkers into mountains, allegedly to protect the American way of life.
Only through a fluke was one of these hollowed-out mountains, the Raven Rock complex, discovered by journalist Gerrett Graff. His investigation into the elaborate compound yielded some surprising finds.
In Addition To Bunkers, The Government Planned For A Post-Apocalyptic United States
In case the United States suffered a nuclear attack, contingencies were put in place dictating how the government would function. President Eisenhower designated nine men to work with private industries and recreate bureaucracies, and existing agencies were given specific tasks: the Post Office would be in charge of registering the dead, the National Park Service would organize refugee camps, and the Department of Agriculture would oversee ration distribution.
Financially, the government moved large amounts of currency – mostly $2 bills – to one of the bunkers and set up a plan for the IRS to continue collecting taxes.
Raven Rock Was Actually One Of Many Bunkers Built During The Cold War
Similar to Raven Rock, the Greenbrier Mountain facility in West Virginia, known as Project Greek Island, had the same general resources. Begun in 1958 by President Eisenhower as a Congressional bunker, Project Green Island was outfitted with a dentist's office, a power plant, numerous bathrooms, and enough food rations to last six months.
The Cheyenne Mountain bunker near Colorado Spring, CO, was constructed in 1961 and, by 1966, was home to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Cheyenne Mountain also had its own power plant, countless supply cabinets, and, because the facility is still manned by a skeleton crew today, gym access, a doctor's office, and even a Subway restaurant.
Keeping The Bunkers Secret Proved Difficult
If you lived in the vicinity of Raven Rock Mountain Complex (RRMC) or any of the other bunkers, they weren't a secret. Constructing a bunker required a great deal of labor, much of it local, but workers managed to keep their knowledge confidential. Gene Bowman remembered, at the age of 17 in 1950, being paid $1.35 an hour to drill and blast granite at Raven Rock. The location's secrecy was maintained through the following three rules:
“Avoid conversations about RRMC with unauthorized personnel... do not confirm or deny information about RRMC to reporters or radio stations, [and] do not post RRMC information on Internet web pages.”
When the government advertised a conference to be held at Raven Rock in 2006, this quest for secrecy clearly failed. Two reporters were given the welcome information for the conference, and it was temporarily posted on the Defense Threat Reduction Agency website.
There Are Rumors Of A Tunnel From Raven Rock To Camp David
Camp David, the president's country retreat, is only six miles from Raven Rock Mountain Complex. One theory exists that there may be an underground tunnel connecting the two locations that runs into one of the reservoirs under Raven Rock.