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  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • The Declaration of Independence says all men are created equal.

  • But in the eyes of the US government,

  • its citizens are actually carved up

  • into two very distinct groups.

  • In the event of a nuclear war, there will be those who can get

  • into a bunker, and those who can't.

  • Today, we're going to take a look

  • at what it's like inside the bunkers designed

  • to keep the US government safe during a nuclear war.

  • But, before we get started, be sure to subscribe

  • to the Weird History channel.

  • And let us know in the comments below what

  • other related topics you would like to hear about.

  • [SHUDDERS]

  • All right, go get your jacket.

  • We're headed into a nuclear winter.

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • Located in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia,

  • the Greenbrier Resort was a top tier hotel,

  • with bright, luxurious grounds.

  • However, beneath the hotel, the US government

  • built a bunker intended to be used as a living

  • facility for members of Congress in the event of a nuclear war.

  • Despite the importance of the people meant to live there,

  • the bunker--

  • nicknamed "Project Greek Island"--

  • was a dreary, sterile place that was

  • roughly the size of a Walmart which, come to think about it,

  • most Walmarts are pretty dreary too, so--

  • 1,100 bunk beds were arranged in long rows.

  • A name was assigned to each bunk bed,

  • possibly to prevent congressmen from bickering over

  • who got to sleep where.

  • Speaking of bickering, government officials

  • weren't even allowed to bring their families with them

  • to the shelter.

  • They were expected to abandon their loved ones

  • to a terrifying nuclear apocalypse

  • while they themselves fled to safety.

  • If that sounds psychologically traumatic to you,

  • well, it did to a few senators, as well.

  • To help the situation, the infirmary bunker

  • was heavily stocked with anti-depressants.

  • The scenario pretty much assured that the people making

  • the country's decisions in the most crucial hour

  • of an atomic war were not only isolated and depressed,

  • but heavily medicated.

  • The Greenbrier bunker was decommissioned

  • after being exposed by the Washington Post in 1992.

  • It's now open for tours during non-pandemic times.

  • So you can go see the cavern the officials would have had

  • to endure with your own eyes.

  • Maintaining the Greenbrier bunker was no easy task.

  • It required a large team to perform general maintenance,

  • replace filters, restock expired pharmaceuticals,

  • and continuously refresh the food supply.

  • None of that sounds too hard in itself,

  • but you have to keep in mind the bunker was top secret.

  • So they had to do it all without attracting

  • any unwanted attention.

  • To facilitate this, the government

  • created a fake company called Forsythe Associates, which

  • would serve as a cover for employees of the bunker.

  • As part of the cover, the employees of Forsythe

  • would actually repair televisions

  • for the nearly 800 rooms of the resort itself.

  • They managed to keep the rooms up for 30 years.

  • But it was the presence of these maintenance employees

  • that ultimately alerted civilians to the fact

  • that something strange was afoot at Greenbrier

  • or, more accurately, underfoot at Greenbrier.

  • The Pennsylvanian Raven Rock complex

  • is one of the larger bunkers.

  • Equipped with fully functional police and fire departments,

  • as well as its own power plant, this bunker

  • looks and operates like a full-fledged underground city.

  • Construction on the complex began in 1951,

  • but it almost never happened.

  • The Department of Defense wasn't sure there was actually

  • a contractor capable of constructing what

  • was essentially a three-story city

  • inside the core of a mountain.

  • Turns out, there was.

  • Parsons Brinkerhoff, the same firm

  • that was responsible for the original IRT

  • line of the New York City subway system

  • was able to complete the job.

  • The project, which was originally

  • approved by President Harry S. Truman,

  • was nicknamed Harry's Hole by the media.

  • I'll wait a second while you post your Harry's Hole comment

  • right now.

  • Keep it clean.

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • As the Cold War came to an end, the fear of nuclear attack

  • tapered off, which was probably a good thing.

  • Many officials eventually began to question

  • the need for the Raven Rock bunker,

  • as it was incredibly expensive to maintain.

  • Even worse, it was becoming technologically obsolete,

  • which meant it would need pricey upgrades

  • on top of everything else.

  • One government official who visited Raven Rock even

  • remarked, "You feel like you're walking into a dinosaur

  • because the place is so outdated."

  • In 1991, President George H.W. Bush halted 24 operations

  • at Raven Rock.

  • The budget was slashed and the facility was all but abandoned.

  • However, after the attacks of September 11, 2001,

  • the government reversed course, even though those attacks

  • had no nuclear weapons.

  • With a renewed emphasis on national security,

  • Congress committed $652 million to upgrades at the bunker.

  • New fuel reserves were eventually

  • included in the project.

  • And, suddenly, Raven Rock's annual budget skyrocketed.

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • When Raven Rock opened in 1953, it

  • was originally intended to be a second home

  • for the Department of Defense in the event of a nuclear war.

  • The space was built to include offices, bathrooms,

  • dining facilities, infirmaries, and communication areas,

  • and was designed to hold somewhere

  • in the neighborhood of 1,400 people.

  • And while it seems like such a project would

  • be highly classified, it was actually quite the opposite.

  • The media was briefed on what was

  • going on right from the start, and many facts about the bunker

  • were common knowledge.

  • For example, it was widely known the complex was protected

  • by 34-ton blast doors, which were bolstered

  • with long tunnels to protect inhabitants

  • in case of an attack.

  • The Raven Rock complex was one of the nation's most

  • active doomsday bunkers.

  • As such, it received fairly regular upgrades,

  • including a major one in 2012, when contractors

  • added 27 new fuel tanks that held up to 20,000

  • additional gallons of gasoline.

  • Originally, just 100,000 square feet, the complex

  • eventually increased to 900,000, to accommodate an estimated

  • 3,000 to 5,000 employees.

  • However, as usual, no family members

  • were invited to live at the facility.

  • While there were plans to let family members visit

  • in case of disaster, you might have

  • to cross a Mad Max-style wasteland

  • to get to the complex.

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • Cheyenne Mountain is one of the most secure places on Earth.

  • And if you're lucky enough to make it through both security

  • checkpoints, you'll find yourself at a massive door.

  • Situated at a 90 degree angle away from this entrance

  • is a huge tunnel that extends all the way from one side

  • of the mountain to the other.

  • The man-made tunnel was designed by architects

  • to direct any nuclear radiation away

  • from the entrance of the facility.

  • The door, which weighs 23 tons, is shaped like a giant plug.

  • This means that, in the event of an exterior blast,

  • the seal it creates would actually tighten and expel

  • any toxic fumes.

  • It's like a giant panic room.

  • Imagine it's the end of the world.

  • Nuclear missiles are flying.

  • Entire cities are being annihilated,

  • and people are dying by the millions.

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • [EXPLOSIONS]

  • You, however, are in the mood for a hearty meatball sub.

  • Well, if you had a Level 1 security clearance,

  • and were one of the people lucky enough

  • to be in the Cheyenne Mountain bunker,

  • we've got some good news.

  • Employees of Cheyenne Mountain had their very own Subway

  • fast food restaurant where they could pick up

  • some grub on their way to monitoring

  • for potential airborne threats.

  • The facility even had TV screens that

  • could live stream the outside world,

  • and a 24-hour cafeteria that could serve intricate meals.

  • It was a pretty sweet setup as far as post-apocalyptic living

  • goes.

  • But, in case of long lasting disaster,

  • a military cook was always on standby to begin rationing.

  • The Cheyenne Mountain complex, which is still in use today,

  • had a lot of the same amenities you'd find in any community.

  • For example, fitness classes were said to be popular,

  • with spin class being a particular favorite.

  • On a normal day, you were likely to find

  • the area filled with employees SoulCycling

  • to some awful techno music.

  • But, of course, everything in the complex

  • serves an emergency purpose, as well.

  • In disaster situation, the facility's gym

  • was designed to double as a hospital station.

  • Curtains located at the front of the gym

  • would actually shield the hospital bay when closed.

  • Hopefully, when functioning as a hospital,

  • they would turn down that terrible EDM.

  • [IMITATING EDM BEATS]

  • The Cheyenne Mountain bunker has not one

  • but two underground lakes.

  • Rowboats could be taken out on the water

  • to inspect the large man-made reservoir.

  • But they're also used for other purposes.

  • For example, a long-standing Naval tradition

  • holds that sailors should renew their enlistment at sea.

  • The reservoir boats give Naval personnel

  • stationed at the complex a chance to honor that tradition,

  • if they choose to.

  • Each reservoir is roughly the size of a football field.

  • And both were designed to slope downward into the Earth

  • to control spillage in the event of a bomb-related quake.

  • The water supply could keep the complex hydrated for weeks.

  • Well, this this reservoir is like 20-feet deep

  • and it holds about a million five-gallons of water.

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • To allow staff to freely practice their religions,

  • the Cheyenne Mountain complex, like many of the other bunkers,

  • was built with a nondenominational chapel.

  • The chapel at Cheyenne Mountain is

  • known to have been used during the September 11 attacks.

  • When the country reeled in the aftermath,

  • all employees were locked into the bunker

  • and compelled to work.

  • Most employees did their duty.

  • But a story holds that one man complained

  • and asked to be released to see his family.

  • He was sent to the bunker chapel, where

  • he spent some time with a chaplain, who offered prayer

  • and mental health services.

  • The employee is said to have re-evaluated his situation

  • and returned to work.

  • All in all, pretty understandable.

  • Cheyenne Mountain is also home to the North American Aerospace

  • Defense, also known as NORAD.

  • It was built to protect the United States in the event

  • all of their systems failed.

  • In the event of a nuclear attack,

  • the NORAD buildings are shielded by massive expanses of rock.

  • The springs located beneath the space

  • provide cushion and shock protection.

  • And the buildings are built with enough slack

  • to allow them to sway up to 18-feet in either direction,

  • kind of like how many West Coast buildings are

  • built to withstand earthquakes.

  • [MUSIC - "DUCK AND COVER THEME SONG"]

  • (SINGING) He did what we all must learn to do.

  • You, and you, and you, and you, [BLAST] duck and cover.

  • So what do you think?

  • How do you think you'd feel about living

  • in one of these bunkers while a nuclear war raged outside?

  • Let us know in the comments below.

  • And while you're at it, check out some of these other videos

  • from our Weird History.