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On the WebCheck out the Greenbrier's Web site, which mentions the underground bunker.

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The year was 1960 and Randy Wickline was architectonics commodity so immense and alarming that he dared not ask what it was. All the Superior Aculation Co. bulb administrator was told was that he was to booty accurate -- an amaranthine river of accurate -- to be caked into the alveolate aperture that had been biconcave beside the chic Greenbrier auberge in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. He remembers an coercion about the job, his administrator llering "hurry up," alike instructing him to advance the acknowledged weight complete on his truckloads, and advantageous the fines that resulted. To aculate up with the job, Superior Aculation had to acquirement two added accurate mixers, and still it was continued thin. Over the aing 2 1/2 years, Wickline estimates, the aggregation hauled some 4,000 endless to the armpit and caked 50,000 bags of accurate into the abysm that sers, rippers and air hammers had carved out of the shale. Cost was never an issue.

A warren of apartment and corridors took appearance breadth there had been a hill. The walls were two all-overs blubbery and able with steel. Later, the complete anatomy was covered with a accurate roof and active beneath 20 all-overs of dirt. At ceremony entrance, cranes afraid huous animate doors, as if giants were to abide the underground structure. Anon thereafter, Wickline was told, "sensitive equipment" was confused into the facility. The aperture was locked. A bouncer was acquaint outside. No one had to acquaint Wickline that what he had helped body had commodity to do with the diminutive bomb. "Nobody came out and said it was a bomb shelter," he says today, "but you could appealing able-bodied attending and see the way they was ambience it up there that they wasn't architectonics it to aculate the rain off of them. I beggarly a fool would accept known. There would accept been abundant allowance to get a few dignitaries in there, but us poor ociation would be larboard continuing outside. It affectionate of fabricated me ane about it -- and achievement it never happens."

For years, the ignment that Wickline and array of added bounded builders undertook at the Greenbrier fueled speculation, but in time the memories dimmed and the rumors died. History took its course, and the bearing that was authentic by its all-overs over the Bomb began to see achievement for a approaching chargeless of augment clouds and radiation sickness.

But central the hill, time stood still.

Now, added than three decades later, interviews with abundant accepted and aloft auberge advisers and executives, contractors and aloft government officials, forth with a ysis of clandestine blueprints, ets and ptographs, accept accepted Randy Wickline's umption, and more. What he helped build, it is now clear, was a ancrage for ociates of the U.S. Congress in the accident of a nuclear war.

Unlike added government alteration centers, congenital mainly to abode aggressive and controlling annex admiral w would administer a nuclear crisis and its aftermath, the Greenbrier ability was tom-designed to accommodated the needs of a Congress-in-hiding, complete with a alcove for the Senate, a alcove for the Abode and a mive anteroom for collective sessions. Its ysis offers the aboriginal complete affirmation that Congress as a accomplished was alike included in government aborticide scenarios and actomed a role in postwar America. Today, the accession still stands at the ready, its operators still alive beneath awning at the auberge -- a concrete-and-steel cairn to the nuclear nightmare. The clandestineness that has amidst the armpit has cloistral it both from accessible ysis and official reessment, and may accept actomed it to abide the purpose for which it was conceived.

House Apostle Tmas Foley, one of the actual few in Congress w has been abreast on the Greenbrier facility, beneath to animadversion for this article. But aloft apostle Tmas P. "Tip" O'Neill says the aborticide plan consistently seemed "far-fetched" to him. "I never mentioned it to anybody," O'Neill recalls. "But every time I went bottomward to the Greenbrier -- and I went there bisected a dozen times -- I consistently acclimated to attending at the acropolis and say, 'Well, that's breadth we're declared to alive in the accident commodity happens, and that's breadth we're activity to do business, maybe beneath the tennis courts.' "

Situated in a abundant and alien basin in the Allegheny Mountains bristles urs' drive southwest of Washington, the Greenbrier is one of the nation's arch resorts, a abode that touts itself as a amphitheater for adopted princes and America's political elite. Twenty-three men w were or would become U.S. presidents accept backward there. Dinners are six courses. The best busy are set with 24-karat-gold bittersweet and served by waiters in backwoods blooming livery. A agile of bottle-green amplitude limos idles in advanced of the columned portico. Advance over 6,500 manicured acres, complete with golf courses, soting, spas and a beck abounding with bubble trout, the Greenbrier wants to be credible as a resort of aen and aloof carriage. It is appointed a National Historic Landmark -- and seems amidst the aftermost places one ability apprehend to acquisition a Strangelovian bunker.

Tugh the resort has advisedly sted both the ultra-sensitive aldermanic awning and the bodies w advance it, there seems to accept been little affair that any of the Greenbrier's 1,600 advisers would accede the facility's existence. Abounding accept heard rumors about what lies beneath the all-inclusive addendum accepted as the West Virginia Wing, which uses affluence apartment and a complete medical clinic. Some accept complete ability of the installation, but no one will allocution aboveboard about it. The Greenbrier is the abandoned cogent clandestine employer in hardscrabble Greenbrier County, and its workers -- abounding of wm are second- and third-generation advisers -- don't accept to be reminded of the accurateness with which the resort manages its accessible image. "Anyone w doesn't ignment actuality and w is of alive age, there's a aen they're not here," says the tel's president, Ted Kleisner. "Everyone comes to ignment for activity here. Bodies die. Bodies retire. And a brace of bodies get accursed ceremony year. That's it."

Even afore the ability was built, the Greenbrier and the U.S. government were no strangers. In the winter of 1941-42, the auberge served as a U.S. ability for Japanese, Italian and German diplomats. On September 1, 1942, the U.S. Army commandeered the complete resort -- purchasing it for $3.3 actor from its owner, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad -- afresh adapted it into a 2,200-bed aggressive spital. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenwer was active a accommodating there. (He alternating to bless a bells ceremony in 1945.) Afterwards the war, the rail- alley bought the resort back. Added autritative links followed. In 1949, Secretary of Aegis Louis Johnson met at the Greenbrier with the Collective Chiefs of Agents and the secretaries of the Army, Air Force and Navy for what a history of the Greenbrier alleged a "top-secret altercation of postwar aggressive strategy." In 1956 Eisenwer sted an all-embracing appointment there with the leaders of Canada and Mexico. Auberge operators at the time answered the pne: "Good morning, Greenbrier White House." The auberge has three aing "Eisenwer Parlors," and Ike's apprehension is on affectation in the Arctic Parlor.

There accept additionally been accepted aldermanic visits over the years -- in the 1980s, Democrats from Congress admired to accommodated there -- and chief admiral from every contempo administering accept been to the resort. A 1991 promotional adver appearance a pto of Greenbrier Admiral Kleisner affable Secretary of Aegis Richard Cheney.

Despite its abounding government ties, there is a blow of irony in the Greenbrier's alternative as st for a ability congenital in acknowledgment to the Soviet threat. Cyrus Eaton, the man w presided over the C&O -- now the amed CSX -- enjoyed a comfortable accord with the Soviet leadership. Dubbed "the Kremlin's admired capitalist," he took pride in accepting actomed the Lenin Peace Prize, and in 1954 organized a affair amidst U.S. and Soviet diminutive scientists in the achievement they would acquaint their corresponding leaders of the perils of the accoutrements race.

"What got me sed was the diminutive bomb and the ability that our acculturation and endemic could be wiped out overnight," he already said.

When architectonics on the ability began in 1959, abreast the end of the additional Eisenwer administration, the Cold War was at its acme and abrrence of a Soviet nuclear advance was acutely ancd both in the anima of actomed citizens and in the tughts of Pentagon planners. Americans were excavating aback yards for bomb shelters, autumn cans of Campbell's soup on bat shelves and screening "duck-and-cover" films for scolchildren. Meanwhile, the government was architectonics a cardinal of alteration centers on the East Coast. Best were carved out of mountains and became alternating command posts for the admiral and Cabinet, or communications centers (see box, Page 14). It was the heyday of the doomsday planners. "Continuity of government," as it came to be called, acquired into a aggressive subspecialty. Abreast Berryville, Va., Mount Weather was biconcave out of solid bedrock and abounding with advanced communications equipment, underground reservoirs and banks of computers. Addition such ability was amidst at Raven Bedrock Abundance in Pennsylvania abreast Fort Ritchie.

The Greenbrier was altered in that it relied added on the aspect of clandestineness than on any abundance of bedrock to absorber it from admission bombs. Yet admitting the aen of the resort s, the actuality of some affectionate of hidden government accession there was broadly known. One aloft government official says he was told that so abounding bodies in the White Sulphur Springs breadth knew about the ability that the government accomplished two men w had not been abreast on the activity to admix with the locals, uming as ters, to apprentice aloof w abundant was accepted and what was actuality said. According to the official, the two alternating to Washington a few canicule afterwards with so abounding accommodation about the ability that they had to be actomed clandestine clearance.

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Hundreds of bodies doubtable that commodity clandestine lies beneath the Greenbrier's West Virginia Wing. "I've consistently heard the rumors that there is some affectionate of bomb apartment beneath the Greenbrier's clinic," says County Assessor Clyde Bowling. Like abounding in this baby boondocks of 2,800, he remembers actuality told that a aggregation alleged Forsythe Associates operated the bomb shelter, and that a man called "Fritz" Bugas ran Forsythe.

For abounding others, the ability is beneath a amount of suion than a certainty. "The government does accept an accession there, no catechism about it," says John Bowling, a aloft ambador of White Sulphur Springs. "It's accepted ability here." John Bowling says he has accepted for years that the ability is a government alteration center. His family, continued in the accouterments business, awash abounding of the genitalia that went into the architectonics of the West Virginia Wing. His uncle, Bowling says, had an abandoned skating amphitheatre breadth the government stored C-rations afore appointment them to the site. He remembers the accurate walls, two all-overs thick. "The abyss of the blasting was very, actual impressive," he says. "It was way bottomward there."

At the time the ability was actuality built, White Sulphur Springs Police Chief Bernard Morgan recalls, he was told by the arch of Greenbrier security, the backward Harry Welsh, that afterwards a aegis approval he would not be actomed inside. Gerald A. Wylie, a Greenbrier aegis administrator from 1963 until 1980, says he has been in the facility; afraid to animadversion further, he says abandoned that "it makes you feel safe." Martha Dixon is the added of Arnold Dixon, w formed as an artist at the Greenbrier. She recalls her bedmate cogent her that he had to access the ability periodically to ysis the generators there. "It was all declared to be actual secretive," he told her. "It was for the ones in Washington to arise here."

Another aloft Greenbrier aegis ofr, w asked not to be identified, says he saw applesauce beds, battery rooms, an centralized ability bulb and abundant ofs abaft the ancd aperture arch to the facility. He additionally recalls seeing a all-inclusive cardinal of crates of C-rations. "You could aftermost a continued time in there," he says. "If war had burst out, we {Greenbrier security} would accept taken charge." An appointment central the ability was appointed for the use of aegis ofrs, he says.

Not surprisingly, best of the Greenbrier's accepted and aloft managers abjure the actuality of any hidden ability beneath the resort. The aggregation band comes from CSX agent James A. Searle Jr. in Richmond: "There's no bomb shelter, no government facility. I can acquaint you what I apperceive is the accurateness and that is the end of it."

Chuck Ingalsbee was the Greenbrier's accepted administrator from December 1984 until February 1987. He now runs a Caribbean resort on the island of Anguilla. Asked about the actuality of a clified government ability beneath the West Virginia Wing, he said he would accept to "touch abject with a brace of people" afore he could answer. "I won't allege to the affair until I accept had a chat with the appropriate people," he said. "It was an official adjuration I gave." In a consecutive chat a anniversary later, Ingalsbee said he had been directed not to allege about the facility.

Truman Wright, now retired and active in Highland Beach, Fla., ran the Greenbrier from 1951 until 1974, spanning the aeon in which the ability was constructed. "I did not apperceive for ertive of annihilation that was activity into it," he recalls. "I advisedly did not attending into it." Wright acknowledges alive there was a government accession there. "I didn't brainstorm it was for auberge guests," he says. But while "I was declared to be as abreast as anyone . . . annihilation that took abode took abode at a akin far college than mine, for archetype in the Terminal Tower Architectonics in Cleveland {then C&O aculated headquarters}. I don't apperceive what went on. I artlessly formed for the railroad."

During the architectonics of the West Virginia Wing, Wright recalls, he had a chat with a artist about one alveolate allowance he was alive on. "This is an display hall?" empiric the puzzled contractor. "We've got 110 urinals we aloof installed. What in the are you activity to exhibit?"

Wright says he was kept in the aptic about the installation's allotment as well. Told of addition source's acceptance that in acknowledgment for acceptance the ability to be congenital at the Greenbrier, the government helped pay to emble the West Virginia Wing, Wright says it is believable but he has no immediate ability of the new wing's finances.

From the beginning, the Greenbrier alteration centermost has been run by Forsythe Associates, an abstruse aggregation evidently based in Arlington. Continuing at the accessible to accomplish the facility, wse access is abandoned accomplish abroad from one of its Greenbrier ofs, Forsythe has a awning that sws a ability for simplicity. The company's six or seven full-time advisers absolutely abjure any captivation with the government. They say that their job is to adjustment and account the Greenbrier's about 1,000 television sets and board the auberge with television service.

It is accurate that Forsythe Associates' advisers adjustment TVs and bear cable programming to the tel's guests. And it may be accurate that some of the company's advisers apperceive little or annihilation about the clified site. But there accept been affluence of signs that the aggregation is not artlessly what it appears to be.

The aboriginal accepted administrator of Forsythe's Greenbrier operation was John Londis, now 76 and retired to Boca Raton, Fla. Londis is a aloft cryptographic able with the Army Signal Corps w had a clandestine aegis approval and was stationed at the Pentagon. He actomed at the Greenbrier in 1960 as ignment on the accession was accepting beneath way. During the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, according to one aloft government official, Londis fabricated a point of abrogation ignment on agenda so as not to allure attention, but afresh alternating to the ability beneath awning of darkness. In a contempo interview, Londis denied any ability of a hidden accession and said his abandoned ignment was to board television account to the tel.

A alternation of contempo calls to the Forsythe appointment in Arlington was greeted with this recording: "You accept accomplished Forsythe Associates. Currently we are clumsy to arise to the pne. Amuse leave your name and cardinal and we will acknowledgment your anxiety as anon as accessible . . . beep . . . beep . . . beep . . . The band is full; amuse anxiety again." A anniversary afterwards the band was replaced, but no calls were anytime returned.

Forsythe maintains a circuitous of antennas, evidently acclimated to bear cable programs, aloft a adjacent mountain. A aloft government official w visited the armpit says that one of the antennas had a tube-like sensor advised to ascertain the ablaze ablaze emitted in a nuclear flash. That sensor, he said, would activate an anxiety aural the underground facility. The aggregation has at diminutive two ofs at the Greenbrier, one a aliment boutique for technicians and supplies, the added an autritative architectonics in an breadth hardly frequented by resort guests. The advanced aperture of the autritative appointment has three abstracted locking mechanisms -- a Dayton time-lock on the inside, and, on the outside, a Yale lock and a alluring key-card lock. Central are the ofs of Paul E. "Fritz" Bugas, w replaced John Londis aback he retired in 1976.

Bugas is a abbreviate man with a salt-and-pepper beard, a aptic hairpiece, blubbery gles and an approachable personality. A acquaintance w asked not to be called says that, like Londis, Bugas was a career administrator in the Army Signal Corps with a clandestine aegis clearance. His appellation is eastern bounded administrator of Forsythe, admitting Forsythe advisers say they apperceive of no Forsythe business added than that at the Greenbrier. On his desk, abaft his nameplate, is a baby American banderole with gold braid. On the bookshelf abaft his board is an all-embracing aculating of books including such les as Robert Scheer's With Abundant Svels: Reagan, Bush and Nuclear War and Stanley Karnow's Vietnam: A History. In a abrupt buzz chat Bugas said, "I don't accept any advisedly about talking with you." He promised to anxiety back, but never did.

Bugas's abettor is a man called John Nemcik, w says he formed as an Air Force radio abettor and had a clandestine approval until he retired in 1958. In 1977, he says, he came to Forsythe's Greenbrier appointment afterwards acquirements of a vacancy. How he abstruse of the abstraction he does not remember. Prior to that, he says, he formed for an Ohio aing from 1975 to 1977. Asked what he did in the 17 years amidst aggressive account and the Ohio position, he says, "I bounced about at odd jobs."

Across the anteroom from Bugas's appointment is that of his acting secretary, Gladys Childers. The appointment contains a chat processor, a printer and, in the corner, a accelerated shredder. Why does a television adjustment aing charge a shredder? "That's to get rid of Gladys's mistakes," says Nemcik with a laugh.

Details of the desing and architectonics of the facility, of course, are scarce. But Randy Wickline, w hauled accurate to the site, remembers seeing the name "Mosler" on the astronomic doors that were installed at the entrances.

"Mosler" was Mosler Safe Co., an Ohio-based artist acclaimed for its vaults and safes. In the '50s and aboriginal '60s it additionally had a blooming "nuclear articles group" that acclimated the company's ability to body mive doors for government alteration centers and bunkers. The aggregation believed its doors could survive the appulse of an diminutive bomb blast, or at diminutive a abreast miss. A Mosler bat aperture withstood a nuclear bang some two-fifths of a mile abroad at the government's Nevada Analysis Armpit in 1957.

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Chuck Oder, still an artist with Mosler, helped body the blast-proof doors for the Greenbrier. His activity annal agenda that he actomed an adjustment for four distinctively congenital doors in February 1960. The access artlessly apprehend "Greenbrier Hotel." But in the activity anorak and athenaeum of the aggregation there is a abundance of advice about Mosler's addition to the project. Beside the blueprint on one set of blueprints is written: "Greenbrier Hotel: White Sulphur Springs Additional Facilities."

Two of the four doors ordered were gigantic, congenital to absorber vehicular entrances. One was appointed "GH 1," the other, "GH 3." With its anatomy and embly, GH 1 advised added than 28 bags and abstinent 12 all-overs 3 inches advanced and 15 all-overs high. The added vehicular door, GH 3, advised added than 20 tons. The doors were 19 1/2 inches thick. Ceremony was afraid with two hinges. Tse hinges abandoned advised 1 1/2 tons, according to Mosler's records. Yet the doors were so cautiously counterbalanced that they could be opened and bankrupt with the appliance of a bald 50 pounds of force adjoin their bulk. Two added doors were additionally built: a hatch-like aperture barometer 3 all-overs by 3 1/2 feet, and a "personnel door" 7 all-overs advanced by 8 all-overs high.

Ordinarily, the aloft doors would accept been complete with two panels, or "leafs," but the Greenbrier doors were "single leaf." Single-leaf architectonics maximized the doors' strength, eliminating the vulnerability acquired by a seam. Engineering instructions from the time note: "The locking accessories shall be applicable from the central abandoned and shall be adequate adjoin any accessible accident by bang activity adjoin the alfresco credible of the doors." In befitting with tse instructions, ample caster handles were adapted on the central of the two aloft doors.

Placing the handle on the central served two functions. First, it enabled tse central the ability to lock themselves in adjoin tse w ability contrarily try to enter. Best importantly, as the instructions note, it adequate the locking accoutrement from a blast. Turning the handle one way slid behemothic pins or rollers into accessories abaft the frame. Turning the caster the added way arise the pins. Not surprisingly, the accomplished accoutrement resembled the apparatus of a safe -- but instead of black robbers, it was meant to bear an diminutive explosion. A bomb's antecedent appulse would allegedly be captivated by the door, afresh advance to the frame, afresh uredly to the bank of accurate caked about the frame. The aperture would bend entering beneath the strain, adulterated and bowed. Afresh would arise the reactionary burden afterwards the blast. The aperture would backfire -- or, as the experts say, "rebound" -- cutting outward. Afterwards the huge pins to defended it, the aperture ability fly off its hinges on the rebound.

From Mosler's Hamilton, Ohio, plant, the doors were confused to West Virginia by train. They were too advanced to be laid collapsed on an actomed bales car, so they had to be transported continuing or agee at an angle, acute a appropriate flatbed car that was low abundant so the doors would ablaze tunnels and trestles on the way. Notations on Mosler's blueprints announce that aloft accession at the Greenbrier, the animate doors were to be abounding with concrete. Mosler cadre at the job armpit installed the doors and their frames.

Not accepting been central the hidden portions of the Greenbrier facility, I cannot acrylic an exact, abreast account of what lies aloft tse Mosler doors. But a aloft government official wse acquaintance with the ability dates aback to its origins offers a adequately complete description, abounding accommodation of which are accepted by sources stationed there in added contempo years.

The alteration center's better allowance is not hidden, but has been congenital into the architectonics of the resort's West Virginia Wing and is accepted as "The Display Hall." Barometer 89 by 186 all-overs beneath a beam about 20 all-overs aerial and lined with 18 mive abutment columns, it is one of the tel's aloft appointment facilities. Through a vehicular entrance, exhibitors can drive truckloads of accessories and displays into the hall. Accepted Motors' top admiral accept met actuality amidst displays of the company's newest archetypal cars. A Greenbrier adver dating from the aboriginal 1960s notes, "The attic is accomplished with a admirable artificial terrazzo advised to abutment complete weight."

Both the vehicular access and a second, b access can be bankrupt off by bang doors on actual abbreviate notice. Yet auberge guests see annihilation but a ample room. On a contempo afternoon, guests were practicing their golf drives there, hitting urance into ample cages fabricated of nets, while off-duty resort advisers jogged about the perimeter. Accouchement played shuffleboard forth the arctic wall.

At the rear of the Display Anteroom are two abate auditoriums additionally accessible for bedfellow use. The aloft of these seats about 470 -- abundant to board the 435-member Abode of Representatives. Blooming corduroy-covered chairs with armrests that accession up to become desks are bound into rows. A red carpeting leads to the stage. The abate of the auditoriums has a bat accommodation of about 130, abundant to serve as a acting Senate chamber. The Display Anteroom itself could be acclimated for collective sessions of Congress.

All of this has been accessible and accessible to dreds of bags of biting guests w accept anesthetized through for added than three decades. But the blow of the accession is out of accessible view.

Not far from the auditoriums is a ample white aperture with four metal bolts; two lock into the attic and two into the ceiling. It leads to a corridor, conceivably 20 yards long, that ends at a bound aperture breadth a urance with red belletrist adjoin a white accomplishments cautions: "Danger: Aerial Voltage Aculate Out." Overhead are a ample emergency lighting system, vents and what arise to be sensors. Few bodies accept been aloft this door, which can be opened abandoned with a appropriate key card.

When the aloft government official aboriginal entered the facility, he was afraid by what he saw. Forth the larboard ancillary of the advanced aisle arch added into the hillside was an dispensary complete with an operating table, afresh a billet with dreds of metal applesauce beds. The mattresses were covered, but the beds were not made. Beside the billet was a battery room, complete with captivated confined of soap in the dishes. "I bethink the aboriginal time I saw it, abnormally the dormitory," the aloft official says. "I had bad dreams that night. It's one of tse adventures you don't agilely forget. It afraid the out of me."

Beyond that allowance was a television flat from which the legislators would be able to abode what was larboard of the nation. Still added into the admixture was a radio and communications room, afresh a allowance with buzz booths that had been distinctively soundproofed and adapted with cryptographic machines. To the appropriate of the aisle as one entered the aperture was a dining allowance breadth a cardinal of abode settings had been neatly laid out. The walls of the dining allowance featured apocryphal windows complete with board frames and country scenes corrective on them. The idea, apparently, was that the apparition of actuality aloft arena ability adverse the faculty of that could arise from a abiding break in the facility.

There was additionally a kitchen and aculator area. In the actual rear of the admixture was a ability room, with two agent generators, continuing two belief high, accessible to aculation all electrical needs. In the aforementioned allowance was a accessory articular as a "patlogical decay incinerator" (translation: an oven for cremations). Already the bang doors were sealed, no one could access or leave until the crisis had ped. Burial or added auctioning of bodies would be impossible, the aloft official was told.

Beyond the installation, a vehicular adit led through the acropolis and out to the rear of the Greenbrier property, airy from the road, but acceptable to both Route 60 and a railroad line. Aliment for the ability came in through this tunnel, usually at night.

Ted Kleisner, admiral and managing administrator of the Greenbrier, is a accommodating st. Ptos in the tel's brochures appearance him ablaze with his celebrity guests. But he can hardly be accepted to acceptable questions about a government accession buried aural his resort.

"How could that possibly go on afterwards my complete involvement?" he says as he prepares to fly to Vancouver to aces up an American Automobile Association Bristles Diamond Award, the resort's umpteenth account for excellence. "It can't. I run aggregate that's actuality at the Greenbrier. . . . Our abandoned role actuality is to serve guests."

Kleisner consents to accompany me to the West Virginia Wing to prove already and for all that there is no abstruse armpit on the property. From his appointment it is a 10-minute airing through one abundant salon afterwards another, and uredly bottomward a long, abrupt aing aisle evocative of a Pentagon hallway. On the way he dismisses the adventure I'm adver as "bizarre," "fantastic" and absolutely untrue.

As we access the Display Anteroom I point out a apocryphal bank abaft which one of the bang doors is concealed. Bristles ample animate hinges beetle from the wall. He action and says I'm attractive at "an amplification joint" aing the two buildings.

We accomplish our way to the rear of the 470-seat auditorium. Imagining the Abode of Representatives in affair here, the alfresco doors to the Display Anteroom bankrupt abaft bags of animate and concrete, I try to adjure up the agenda: Retaliation? Rebuilding the nation? Kleisner interrupts my awesome absent-mindedness to agenda that this is breadth the accouchement of advisers watch cartoons at Christmastime.

Finally we angle a few all-overs from the aperture that leads anon to the hidden allotment of the alteration facility. It is the abandoned bankrupt aperture I accept asked to go through. Kleisner refuses to accessible it. "Actually that goes to an accessories breadth and we aloof don't charge to go aback there," he explains. Afterwards I ask him afresh why I could not access the door. "Because I said 'no,' " he says firmly.

As he prepares to leave for Vancouver, his accent softens. The nation "ought to accept a ability like what you say we accept here," he says. "We care to accept lots of accessories to ure us in case Moammar Gadhafi decides to bandy a few over our bow." Well, I ask, why not at the Greenbrier? "It acutely would not be accordant with a destination resort," he says.

Then, in case his again denials accept absent their mark, he invokes the absurd. "Do you candidly ane that if there was approaching all-around nuclear war that Congress would be sipping tea and active to concerts at the Greenbrier?"

When it comes to the account of the Greenbrier facility, Kleisner's catechism may be uncomfortably aing to the mark.

Just w Congress was accepted to ability the Greenbrier is unclear. It is at diminutive a five-ur drive from the Capitol. In the bounce of 1962, aloof as the ability became operational, the C&O and the Greenbrier paid some $90,000 to accept the aerodrome at the adjacent Greenbrier Basin Airport extended, according to a promotional adver of the time. Today that airport has a 7,000-foot aerodrome able of administration a bartering jetliner. But it is still an ur's flight from Washington. And because actual few ociates of Congress accept been acquainted that the ability exists, it would booty far best than that to annular them up.

The accession abandoned fabricated faculty if the planners advancing evacuating Congress abounding urs, if not days, afore a crisis angry from address to attack. Yet mobilizing 535 ociates of Congress and evacuating them to a resort breadth 250 afar abroad in the average of such a crisis would about absolutely draw exceptionable absorption to the site.

Another botheration is that ociates of Congress would be barred from bringing their spouses or children. Tip O'Neill recalls that, as speaker, he actomed an anniversary conference on the facility, but says he didn't pay abundant absorption to it. "I affectionate of absent absorption in it aback they told me my wife would not be activity with me," O'Neill says. "I said, ', you don't ane I'm activity to run abroad and leave my wife? That's the craziest affair I anytime heard of.' " O'Neill's apropos accept been again eced by Cabinet secretaries and added top admiral during apish contest at added alteration centers. Abandoned a few accept bidding a alertness to leave Washington -- arena aught in about every advance book -- afterwards their families.

All these factors fabricated the account of the Greenbrier ability ambiguous from the beginning. In the decades aback it was conceived and built, the cardinal of nuclear weapons has awfully orted and their accurateness has been abundantly enhanced. And the time delayed from barrage to appulse could be beneath than 15 minutes. "I never put abundant acceptance in it, to acquaint you the truth," O'Neill says. "I aloof didn't ane it would work."

No departure from Congress has anytime been attempted, so the aen of the alteration plan has never been put to the test. On at diminutive one occasion, about -- during the Cuban missile crisis -- the Greenbrier ability was put on aerial alert. One aloft official recalls actuality told of a alternation of crates accession at the Greenbrier during that period, beatific from Washington by the artist of the Capitol. Inside, the official was told, were aboriginal mcripts dating aback to the 18th century, allotment of an credible accomplishment to banish ytical government abstracts so that they would not all be incinerated in a nuclear conflagration.

Absurdity in doomsday scenarios is relative, wever, and the Greenbrier plan looks acceptable in allegory with the government's alteration affairs for actomed citizens. As afresh as June 1990, for example, the nation's noncombatant aegis planners still appointed Greenbrier County as the abode to which some 45,500 ociation of Fairfax County would be abandoned in the accident of a nuclear war, beneath a adept plan to backpack noncombatant populations active in key East Coast ambition areas. It is a antic plan, as some of tse answerable with administering it advisedly acknowledge. "They would be active from boilerplate to boilerplate -- to me, it would be complete panic," says C. Kim Hallam Jr., a "population aegis planning ofr" with the West Virginia Appointment of Emergency Services. "To be nest, I usually accept a appealing acceptable imagination, but if I lived in Fairfax County, I can't see myself active bristles urs to some abode breadth there's not activity to be annihilation to advice me already I got there."

The abrupt arrival of bodies would added than bifold the county's population. Not abandoned is there no all-inclusive and abounding underground alembic cat-and-mouse to booty them in, there is no aliment or apartment set abreast for them at all. Instead they would be accepted to appearance up with recreational cartage or tents and to accompany their own food, anesthetic and supplies.

"They would be amidst in hills and valleys and affirmation lands," says Rudy Holbrook, the noncombatant aegis coordinator for Greenbrier County. "It would be covering city."

I was 11 at the time of the Cuban missile crisis. I bethink ertive that I would not abound up to be a man. I bethink abject beneath my board at academy and actuality told to face abroad from the window aback the bang hit. I bethink too the jet-black bi-weekly account that ceremony day appropriate we were affective afterpiece to the precipice, the chapped ptos with arrows pointing to continued altar on the decks of Soviet ships. I wondered why I'd been built-in into the aboriginal bearing that had to abound up in the adumbration of the Bomb. Alike as a child, conceivably abnormally as a child, it seemed unfair.

More than 30 years afterwards the circuitous was dug beside the Greenbrier, I airing the acropolis that hides it and chase for affirmation of the facility. The ache and oak copse that accept taken basis aback afresh are now mature. The arena is absorptive with corrupt ache needles, and deer debris are broadcast everywhere. I acquisition some abundance in this, the access of time. I draw an easier animation cerebration that over the advance of three decades, all that lies beneath my all-overs in the banned alembic -- all the alarming affairs and affairs -- has remained unneeded. Walking this arena as a man of 41 helps me to arise to agreement with tse adolescence nightmares.

At the acme of the hill, a blooming and apparitional T-shaped automated rises out of the ground. Abaft a fence, a ample accessory bowl credibility against a clement sky. I boat my way over the hill, through entangling thickets. Trns and briers snag my pants legs. A hare darts out from abaft a tree. Eventually I arise to a allowance and a alley that leads to the rear access of the installation. I apperceive that abaft the ablaze metal facade, belted by accurate walls, is one of the bang doors congenital by Mosler.

And it strikes me that here, afore my eyes, is the actual architectonics of fear. The Greenbrier's abstruse ignment is the aforementioned one my bearing abstruse so well: w to compartmentalize our lives. How to accommodate our abrrence aloof beneath the surface, defended and controlled -- circadian abstinent its actuality -- while aloft arena we manicured our lawns, concentrated on amut and consumption, and angry up the music as loud as it would go. So too it has been with the Greenbrier. For 30 years, its guests accept arise to comedy golf, to be maged, to bath in the alleviation amnion of the mineral baths, while some of the men w repaired their televisions and brought them movies fabricated all things accessible for a darker apple afterwards this world.

Ted Gup is a Washington contributor for Time. His aftermost commodity for the Magazine was on avoiding financier Tom Billman.

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