Travel

Hidden tourist attraction in US

GUESTS staying at America’s oldest and most luxurious resort during the Cold War era from the 1960s to ’90s, had no idea they were cavorting above a bizarre subterranean world that could have come straight out of James Bond, the fertile mind of Graham Greene, Hollywood’s Dr Strangelove or maybe even TV’s M*A*S*H.

Because below them was a cavern with concrete walls 1.5m thick, chambers big enough to secrete the entire US Congress and House of Representatives and senior staff – and the ancillary services they would need to govern the country in the event of an A-bomb attack on America.

The Greenbrier Resort at Sulphur Springs in West Virginia, 400km south-west of Washington DC, opened as an inn in 1778 for those wanting to "take the waters" from its mineral-rich pools and springs.

Over the years it’s grown into a vast five-star palace with banks of restaurants, cafés, bars and lounges, casinos, live-show theatres, and limitless sporting opportunities sprawling more than 2600ha (6500 acres.)

But it was in the 1960s that it entered its clandestine role, one conceived by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as "the secret White House", nestled in the backwoods of the Allegheny Mountains.

Few were briefed on what was to happen, and those who were sworn to State Secrecy.

Everything and everyone had a code-name – from President Eisenhower whom the Secret Service dubbed "Providence" – to the so-called "management company" that would maintain this subterranean national secret, and whose bland cover-name for 30 years was Forsythe Associates.

The actual project itself was code-named Project Greek Island, but was usually just called The Bunker.

For weeks concrete trucks arrived around the clock, pouring 1.5m thick floors, walls and ceilings. Then a steel blast-door a half-metre thick and weighing 25-tonnes was brought in on a reinforced railcar from Ohio to safely seal the whole complex in the event of an A-bomb attack on Washington DC’s White House.

It grew and grew to the size of two football fields stacked on top of each other, with every major emergency need being quietly installed, and for 30 years from 1962 constantly maintained for instant use. And, to protect its cover as just a part of the Greenbrier Resort, the two meeting rooms for the Senate and House of Representatives – the Mountaineer Room and Governor’s Hall, together with a 5000sq m area where their staffs would work and dubbed The Exhibit Hall – were actually hired-out through the resort for corporate meetings, exhibitions and parties.

Their participants had no idea they were actually gathering in one of America’s most top-secret locations ... nor that carefully concealed around them were military-style dormitories that could sleep more than 1100 Senators, senior officials and technical support teams, a mini-hospital, pharmacy, cafeterias, storerooms of freeze-dried foods with 10-year use-by dates, a power-station, 64,000-litres of diesel fuel, water and air purification plants, radio and TV broadcasting studios – the latter with a back-drop wall showing The White House dome – and fitness rooms.

Its own telephone exchange linked The Bunker with the outside world, and a fire-proof Congressional Records Room could store papers in the event of Congress and the House having to meet, there was a small armoury… even a chaplain’s room for those fearing the end was nigh. And an A-bomb decontamination room… chillingly down the corridor from which was the "Pathological Waste Incinerator" – a crematorium for those who may have fatally succumbed to radiation.

In 1992, The Washington Post ran a bombshell story exposing Project Greek Island. It was decommissioned soon after and in 1995 opened by the Greenbrier for public tours 




Kicking the TinCAN art show to help the elderly

CATCHING A TRAIN TO MOROCCO: This was one of the entries in the Tintenbar Art Show's photographic competition. Photo Contributed

The Tintenbar Art Show is on again over September

Supporting Our Musicians To Take The World Stage

Funding is available for local musicians.

Northern Rivers musicians are invited to apply for funding

Fun time to run after the Olympics are over

FINISHED WELL: Runners in the Greater Casino Fun Run cross the line last year. Photo Samantha Elley / Express Examiner

Starlight Children's Foundation to benefit from fun run

Latest deals and offers

Reno stars want tradies to focus a little more on one thing

The Demmrichs want Tradies to look after their most important tool

Fashionistas show off at Splendour in the Grass

Amberly Nelson, from Melbourne, posts for a photo with friends at Splendour in the Grass.

GLITTER, skin and mesh were all on show at festival this weekend.

Day 2 Splendour Pictures

Sticky Fingers perform at Splendour in the Grass 2016. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

Splendour in the Grass Day 2 covered in pictures.

WATCH: News reader tries her hand at hardcore shooter, Doom

Veteran journo and noob gamer takes a shot at Doom

What's on the small screen this week

MasterChef Australia's final four contestants, from left, Harry Foster, Elena Duggan, Elise Franciskovic and Matt Sinclair.

MASTERCHEF makes way for The Bachelor on Ten's reality TV slate.

Splendour found The Cure

Robert Smith at the Splendour in the Grass Amphitheatre stage during The Cure's show.

Day two of Splendour in the Grass

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

Massive residential 9-storey high-rise hit by delays

An artist’s impression of the eight-storey-high apartment complex that Bernoth Holdings wants to build in South Toowoomba, next to the City Golf Club.

Developer struggles to get approved high-rise development started