Hiding in plain sight - the secret life of the Greenbrier Hotel

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In summary: I think it was called 'The Day After' maybe... Anyway, it was a made for TV movie about surviving a nuclear attack. Scared the crap out of me for years... I'm sure it would seem pretty lame now.In summary, there is a secret government relocation center located under the Greenbrier's West Virginia Wing, which was operated by a company called Forsythe Associates and managed by a man named "Fritz" Bugas. Many in the small town of 2,800 are aware of the facility's existence, including former mayor John Bowling who knew that it was a government center and remembers the construction process. There were also public bomb shelters built in the area, but they were not very effective. The
  • #1
Ivan Seeking
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...Hundreds of people suspect that something hush-hush lies under the Greenbrier's West Virginia Wing. "I've always heard the rumors that there is some kind of bomb shelter under the Greenbrier's clinic," says County Assessor Clyde Bowling. Like many in this small town of 2,800, he remembers being told that a company called Forsythe Associates operated the bomb shelter, and that a man named "Fritz" Bugas ran Forsythe.

For many others, the facility is less a matter of suspicion than a certainty. "The government does have an installation there, no question about it," says John Bowling, a former mayor of White Sulphur Springs. "It's common knowledge here." John Bowling says he has known for years that the facility is a government relocation center. His family, long in the hardware business, sold many of the parts that went into the construction of the West Virginia Wing. His uncle, Bowling says, had an empty skating rink where the government stored C-rations before transferring them to the site. He remembers the concrete walls, two feet thick. "The depth of the excavation was very, very impressive," he says. "It was way down there." ...
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/local/daily/july/25/brier1.htm
 
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  • #2
Now that... that's a story. I would imagine there are plenty of secretly operated military areas 'hiding in plain sight'. After reading a bit though I got thinking... this shelter was for Congress were there any bomb shelters ever built for the public to use? Or was it just a build your own and hope it holds type of situation? Did the government ever help if you wanted to build a bomb shelter?

I don't mean to derail the thread however.
 
  • #3
Sorry! said:
Now that... that's a story. I would imagine there are plenty of secretly operated military areas 'hiding in plain sight'. After reading a bit though I got thinking... this shelter was for Congress were there any bomb shelters ever built for the public to use? Or was it just a build your own and hope it holds type of situation? Did the government ever help if you wanted to build a bomb shelter?

I don't mean to derail the thread however.

I don't know of any public bomb shelters as nice as the government ones, but I know a lot of small towns built public bomb shelters. When I was a kid we used to play in the one in Blythe, CA.
 
  • #4
I thought the Greenbrier Hotel had closed. Maybe I'm thinking of something else.
 
  • #5
Moonbear said:
I thought the Greenbrier Hotel had closed. Maybe I'm thinking of something else.

The news article is from 1992, but it was so good that it seemed worth a post. I believe the secret relocation center was closed [relocated?] in 1997, but the Hotel continues to operate. This is all officially public information now.

http://www.greenbrier.com/site/
http://www.greenbrier.com/site/about-history.aspx
 
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  • #6
Sorry! said:
Now that... that's a story. I would imagine there are plenty of secretly operated military areas 'hiding in plain sight'. After reading a bit though I got thinking... this shelter was for Congress were there any bomb shelters ever built for the public to use? Or was it just a build your own and hope it holds type of situation? Did the government ever help if you wanted to build a bomb shelter?

I don't mean to derail the thread however.

We had public bomb shelters in the area [S. Cal] when I was a kid, but they were notoriously useless in the event of a nuclear attack.

When I was in the Scouts, we camped next to defunct, formerly secret, underground Nike missile base. I don't remember exactly where it was located. I know we were right on the beach, I think near San Pedro... I keep thinking it might have been near Seal Beach... not sure. Anyway, it was common terrain and one would have never noticed the low long hill that was stocked full of Nike missiles ready to launch. It looked just like any other hill.

There was still some level of activity when we were there. We were allowed to tour part of the complex, but were also warned that high levels of security were in effect for some areas and that we had better not screw around.

amusing anecdote: We came in late at night and set up camp on the beach. The next morning we all woke up with scorpions in our tents and/or sleeping bags.
 
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  • #7
I know the location in New York designated for the President if there is an emergency. Or at least the location as of 5 years ago, I'm no longer in that loop.

But I can't tell anyway, I had to sign papers.
 
  • #8
Ivan Seeking said:
The news article is from 1992, but it was so good that it seemed worth a post. I believe the secret relocation center was closed [relocated?] in 1997, but the Hotel continues to operate. This is all officially public information now.

http://www.greenbrier.com/site/
http://www.greenbrier.com/site/about-history.aspx

Don't know why I thought it was closed. Maybe they were closed for a short time for renovations or something. Looks like a nice place for a weekend getaway.
 
  • #9
We had a bomb shelter in our High School. It was stocked full of blankets and cots, 55 gallon drums of water, packages of combs and wooden crates of some type of packaged food. All the food had expired a decade earlier, their was no bathroom, or source of power.

So in the event of a emergency, we could sit in the dark, amidst our own feces, eating rotten food, but our hair would look great!
 
  • #10
hypatia said:
We had a bomb shelter in our High School. It was stocked full of blankets and cots, 55 gallon drums of water, packages of combs and wooden crates of some type of packaged food. All the food had expired a decade earlier, their was no bathroom, or source of power.

So in the event of a emergency, we could sit in the dark, amidst our own feces, eating rotten food, but our hair would look great!

Bahaha, that's pretty cool though especially Ivans story about the Nike missiles... I've only ever seen stuff like that in movies. I think the closest bomb shelter to me is The Bombshelter and that's an art store :-p.

I guess it's kind of a good thing I didn't have to grow up with all of that going on it was probably really tense times, however to me it seems kind of surreal and mystical hahaha.
 
  • #11
When I was in elementary school, we were told that in the event of an attack, we would file down to the basement. There were no supplies there, to my knowledge. Of course, that was a moot point, since the school was located less than 1/10th of a mile downstream from the largest hydro dam in the state.

If the Soviets wanted to hit Maine, they would have targeted DOW AFB (B-52 base), Brunswick Naval Air Station (home to Orion sub-hunters) for military effect, and for maximum destruction per bomb, the Wyman Dam in Moscow, ME. The impoundment is very deep and is 15 miles long, and breaching that would have destroyed almost all the towns downstream, including the state capitol. Like hiding in the cellar would have saved us...
 
  • #12
hypatia said:
We had a bomb shelter in our High School. It was stocked full of blankets and cots, 55 gallon drums of water, packages of combs and wooden crates of some type of packaged food. All the food had expired a decade earlier, their was no bathroom, or source of power.

So in the event of a emergency, we could sit in the dark, amidst our own feces, eating rotten food, but our hair would look great!

My grandparents' house had an air raid shelter in the basement. Same deal, no bathroom. It wasn't particularly warm either. I hope the new owner is into wine, because I think the best use for it would be a wine cellar.

turbo-1 said:
When I was in elementary school, we were told that in the event of an attack, we would file down to the basement. There were no supplies there, to my knowledge. Of course, that was a moot point, since the school was located less than 1/10th of a mile downstream from the largest hydro dam in the state.

If the Soviets wanted to hit Maine, they would have targeted DOW AFB (B-52 base), Brunswick Naval Air Station (home to Orion sub-hunters) for military effect, and for maximum destruction per bomb, the Wyman Dam in Moscow, ME. The impoundment is very deep and is 15 miles long, and breaching that would have destroyed almost all the towns downstream, including the state capitol. Like hiding in the cellar would have saved us...

I guess it's a little better than hiding under your desks. :biggrin:
 
  • #13
Moonbear said:
I guess it's a little better than hiding under your desks. :biggrin:
They made us practice that drill, too!
 
  • #14
turbo-1 said:
They made us practice that drill, too!

I sometimes wonder if in another 20 years or so, we'll look back and laugh on all the outrageous airport security and perpetual "orange alert" as just as silly and useless as hiding under one's desk to avoid nuclear fallout.
 
  • #15
Moonbear said:
I sometimes wonder if in another 20 years or so, we'll look back and laugh on all the outrageous airport security and perpetual "orange alert" as just as silly and useless as hiding under one's desk to avoid nuclear fallout.

But the real purpose is not to protect people anways .. :smile: Airport securities/orange alerts did not help George but I wonder if making students hide under desks turned out to be useful ..
 
  • #16
turbo-1 said:
the Wyman Dam in Moscow, ME.
Naming the place Moscow might have been a good move, even assuming there isn't a safety feature build into the Russian missile for "target=Moscow", you have to figure that some junior officer is going to think twice!
 
  • #17
Moonbear said:
all the outrageous airport security and perpetual "orange alert" as just as silly and useless as hiding under one's desk to avoid nuclear fallout.
At least the desks probably had lead paint!
Unlike a system that let's me take a couple of lithium grenades and sells me a heavy glass bottle of explosive liquid but took a retractable measuring tape off me because it was 'a tool'
 
  • #18
mgb_phys said:
Naming the place Moscow might have been a good move, even assuming there isn't a safety feature build into the Russian missile for "target=Moscow", you have to figure that some junior officer is going to think twice!

The targeting system on all(?) Soviet ICBMs were (and perhaps still are) based on punch card, meaning the "targeting data" was essentially just a bunch of holes.
This in turn means that the people who actually worked in the silos had absolutely no idea about the target, they just inserted the right punch card into the computer before launch.
 
  • #19
mgb_phys said:
Unlike a system that let's me take a couple of lithium grenades and sells me a heavy glass bottle of explosive liquid but took a retractable measuring tape off me because it was 'a tool'

Thank goodness DHS didn't let you take that on a plane, someone could have been hurt!
 
  • #20
Sorry! said:
Now that... that's a story. I would imagine there are plenty of secretly operated military areas 'hiding in plain sight'. After reading a bit though I got thinking... this shelter was for Congress were there any bomb shelters ever built for the public to use? Or was it just a build your own and hope it holds type of situation? Did the government ever help if you wanted to build a bomb shelter?

I don't mean to derail the thread however.
There were plenty of (old) nuclear fall-out shelters in Detroit, evident from the signs on the buildings. There was even one in my apartment complex, which was built in 1929. I thought it was common in the US, but apparently not.

Look at this map of Detroit, it has all the fallout centers marked:
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=e...d=115394800097517977593.00047482480e6c592faec
 
  • #21
Monique said:
There were plenty of (old) nuclear fall-out shelters in Detroit, evident from the signs on the buildings. There was even one in my apartment complex, which was built in 1929. I thought it was common in the US, but apparently not.

Look at this map of Detroit, it has all the fallout centers marked:
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=e...d=115394800097517977593.00047482480e6c592faec

I live in Canada :smile: I guess that's why. There may be bomb shelters somewhere aroudn but I've never come across any of them. I'll ask my grandpa though he would know that kind of stuff... it'd be interesting to go see.

I do know that we have air raid sirens... those ones that make a continuous long sounds kind of like this: but the continuous noise last for a longer period of time before going down and starting again. They still use them to this day, I have no idea what for though, if they are just testing them or what. They are very loud and they last for up to 30 minutes lol.EDIT: I just listened to the rest of that youtube clip and noticed that at the end for the 'all clear' it was a continuous long sound... when I hear it around here that's what it sounds like only when it dies off it starts again the same way(just not as many sirens going off maybe 2...)
 
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  • #22
Sorry! said:
I live in Canada :smile: I guess that's why. There may be bomb shelters somewhere aroudn but I've never come across any of them. I'll ask my grandpa though he would know that kind of stuff... it'd be interesting to go see.

I do know that we have air raid sirens... those ones that make a continuous long sounds kind of like this: but the continuous noise last for a longer period of time before going down and starting again. They still use them to this day, I have no idea what for though, if they are just testing them or what. They are very loud and they last for up to 30 minutes lol.EDIT: I just listened to the rest of that youtube clip and noticed that at the end for the 'all clear' it was a continuous long sound... when I hear it around here that's what it sounds like only when it dies off it starts again the same way(just not as many sirens going off maybe 2...)
I hope every (developed) country has those sirens?

In the Netherlands they get tested every first monday of the month at noon for about a minute (that would be tomorrow).
 
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  • #23
Monique said:
I hope every (developed) country has those sirens?

In the Netherlands they get tested every first monday of the month at noon for about a minute (that would be tomorrow).

Yeah they are just remanents of a prior time though, just like the bomb shelters are in America... In my area the sirens serve no real purpose. If there was an a bombing or something and the alarms were going off to warn people I don't think anyone would care or even know what to do.
 
  • #24
Sorry! said:
Yeah they are just remanents of a prior time though, just like the bomb shelters are in America... In my area the sirens serve no real purpose. If there was an a bombing or something and the alarms were going off to warn people I don't think anyone would care or even know what to do.
What, you live in the middle of absolute nowhere? In the Netherlands the air alarm is used several times a year, just recently there was a large 24,000 liter saltpeter acid spill outside a cheese factory that caused a toxic cloud to move over a residential area. The air alarm is designed to trigger people to move indoor, close doors and windows and turn on the radio/television.
 
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  • #25
Monique said:
What, you live in the middle of absolute nowhere? In the Netherlands the air alarm is used several times a year, just recently there was a large 24,000 liter saltpeter acid spill outside a food factory that caused a toxic cloud to move over a residential area. The air alarm is designed to trigger people to move indoor, close doors and windows and turn on the radio/television.

No, I live in the city. I remember a while back there was a chemical spill near my place in a industrial area, no air siren. Police set up a perimeter and people were warned of the danger, some areas were evacuated. One time there was an explosion at a refiner not too far from here too that caused windows to break even as far as I live... still no sirens. I honestly feel that if they used those sirens that no one would do anything... If when they test them that's how loud they get most people probably wouldn't even take notice of them

EDIT: Yeah I just verified, in any situation like that the police use loud-hailers relaying the message. You can go check the TV stations after that, they go door to door also. I wasn't alive but in 1979 a train-tanker derailed due to a broken axel caused by overheating on one of the cars. The freighter was carrying propane, styrene, caustic soda, and chlorine gas. The one with chlorine gas was punctured and started pouring out the gas at a pretty alarming rate... the police only used the loud-hailers and other methods the area was evacuated something like 223,000 people. (Which by Canadian standards is quite a large area to evacuate...) Actually I think it was the largest evacuation during peacetime in all of North-America until New Orleans; so nearly 30 years.
 
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  • #26
Well, that's surprising. I guess you learn something new everyday :smile:
 
  • #27
Monique said:
Well, that's surprising. I guess you learn something new everyday :smile:

Just other day I learned about prenup agreements .. I believe that's the most useful thing I have ever learned :smile:
 
  • #28
Monique said:
I hope every (developed) country has those sirens?

In the Netherlands they get tested every first monday of the month at noon for about a minute (that would be tomorrow).
Why would we have air raid sirens? I don't know if we used to, but we don't anymore (at least anywhere that I've been not including a military base). The US has never had any air raid risk, only nuke risk, and nuke risk, and nuke risk isn't really something worth trying to protect against.

However, I live about 5 miles from Limerick nuclear power plant and we do have a siren for that. Not sure what I'm supposed to do when it goes off, but in any case, it gets tested the first Monday of every month, at 1:00 pm.

[edit] Reading the wiki on it, it looks like several European countries still have them as remnants of WWII, but they are now the exception and not the rule: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_defense_siren#Civil_Defense_sirens_around_the_world

Notables:
-Canada had one that stopped being serviced in the 1970s after advancements in nukes made them irrelevant.
-France still maintains theirs.
-The Swiss have one (odd for a supposedly neutral country...)
-The UK's were decommissioned in 1993
 
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  • #29
I always got a good chuckle out of almost all of the public schools in Great Falls MT having fallout shelters. If the US got into a nuclear shooting war with the USSR Great Falls would of been nothing but a smoking glowing crater in the middle of the high plans. Malmstrom AFB is right on the edge of city limits and is responsible for all of the Minuteman's in the ground in MT. Even if the shelters somehow managed to survive that onslaught it would be incredibly hot outside for a long time.
 
  • #30
Monique said:
What, you live in the middle of absolute nowhere? In the Netherlands the air alarm is used several times a year, just recently there was a large 24,000 liter saltpeter acid spill outside a cheese factory that caused a toxic cloud to move over a residential area. The air alarm is designed to trigger people to move indoor, close doors and windows and turn on the radio/television.

The problem here is they have a different uses in different places. Where I grew up, they were a back-up for calling emergency services if the radios were down, so you'd hear them during storms because of lightning strikes and car accidents or regional power outages when the firefighters needed to be called to the station while their CB radios were out in their homes (pre-cell phone days). Once everyone had cell phones, they were phased out for regular use and only kept as part of the back-up plan for a major disaster.

When I moved to MI, and heard them going off during a thunderstorm, nothing struck me as odd about that. Only the next day did I learn they were used there when there were tornado warnings to tell you it was time to move to the basement and away from windows.

When I lived in Cincinnati, they had some other weird rules, that it didn't just go off during a tornado warning, but there had to be some combination of weather-related events going on together before they set off the sirens. But, again, if you heard them, it meant it was time to move to the basement.

And now, I'm back to a place that uses them for calling EMS. I have NO idea why they use them anymore. Everyone has cell phones now that can be paged in an emergency, but they go off several times a day. It would make more sense to just test them once a month or some such and train EMS to respond to them if they do hear them, but only use them if there's some power failure that affects the cell towers.
 
  • #31
russ_watters said:
-Canada had one that stopped being serviced in the 1970s after advancements in nukes made them irrelevant.
Hmmm I wonder what that noise is that I hear from time to time... weird it sounds exactly like it. Lol. I know there was one that used to just be in the middle of the street but they got rid of it, heard stories, that was probably the only one in all of Canada then... This really brings a level of mystery to the noise then lol.
 
  • #32
russ_watters said:
Why would we have air raid sirens? I don't know if we used to, but we don't anymore (at least anywhere that I've been not including a military base). The US has never had any air raid risk, only nuke risk, and nuke risk, and nuke risk isn't really something worth trying to protect against.
You have a point that the US probably never made an infrastructure for air-rade sirens. They are so much part of the infrastructure that I never investigated why they were installed in the first place. If I can believe the Wikipedia entries, the sirens in the Netherlands were build by a civil organization named "Bescherming Bevolking" (Protection Population) that was put in place during the Cold War, after 1952. The task of the BB was to protect the population from warfare, but also large scale disasters. In 1993 the sirens were replaced by a modern system.

Moonbear said:
When I moved to MI, and heard them going off during a thunderstorm, nothing struck me as odd about that. Only the next day did I learn they were used there when there were tornado warnings to tell you it was time to move to the basement and away from windows.
Indeed, in Detroit I also heard sirens go off when there was a heavy thunderstorm approaching with a possible tornado hazard (I was starting to doubt my memory). Other uses would be if there is a large fire and dangerous substances are released into the air: you would want people to go indoors asap.

I find it strange that the uses are so different in the States, as you've explained. Apparently there is no central organizing agency or they don't want to invest the money to get the whole system up to date. With the whole homeland security thing I would think that the government would have been keen to develop such an early warning system.
 
  • #33
We had public bomb shelters in the area [S. Cal] when I was a kid, but they were notoriously useless in the event of a nuclear attack.

You don't need much to protect yourself in the event of a nuclear attack. You need some solid armor, nice to have a layer of soil to absorb thermal radiation/gamma rays/neutrons, and the whole thing should be reasonably airtight to prevent damage to lungs from the blast wave. Battle tanks can withstand a thermonuclear explosion one mile away (though their armor is too thin to provide sufficient radiation protection). Five feet of concrete and five feet of soil should be enough to allow you to survive an atmospheric blast directly overhead.

But it's one thing to survive the blast and another to manage to live long enough after that. The area would be highly radioactive immediately after the explosion, you'd probably want to stay inside for a couple of weeks before venturing out. That means food & water for two weeks, something to do about air, preferably a CO2 scrubber ...
 

Related to Hiding in plain sight - the secret life of the Greenbrier Hotel

1. What is the Greenbrier Hotel?

The Greenbrier Hotel is a luxury resort located in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. It has a rich history dating back to the 1700s and has been a popular destination for wealthy and influential individuals.

2. What is the secret life of the Greenbrier Hotel?

The secret life of the Greenbrier Hotel refers to the hidden underground bunker built beneath the hotel during the Cold War. It was meant to serve as a secret relocation site for the US Congress in case of a nuclear attack.

3. How was the secret bunker discovered?

The secret bunker was discovered in 1992 by a journalist who received an anonymous tip about its existence. After further investigation, it was revealed that the bunker had been in operation for over 30 years without the public's knowledge.

4. What is the significance of the Greenbrier Hotel's secret bunker?

The Greenbrier Hotel's secret bunker is significant because it provides a glimpse into the Cold War era and the measures taken by the US government to protect its leaders. It also serves as a reminder of the constant threat of nuclear war during that time.

5. Can visitors tour the secret bunker at the Greenbrier Hotel?

Yes, visitors can take a tour of the secret bunker at the Greenbrier Hotel. The bunker has been restored and is now open to the public, offering a unique and educational experience about the Cold War and the Greenbrier's role in it.

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