West Virginia, August 2007 - The Mystery of the Underground Bunker, Lewisburg, Charleston
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Displaying Confederate pride as only a son of a Confederate veteran can. 

Good guess is this guy's firin' the cannon, eh?

How young sons of Confederate veterans learn strategy, these toy soldiers rested on a wooden table in one of the tents.

There's nothing like having tasty food at the historic General Lewis Inn in Lewisburg after a hot day of witnessing gun battles. 

The Inn is located at the scene of an 1862 Civil War battle.

Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson registered stayed here as guests when visiting one of the many mineral springs resorts in the area frequented by the antebellum aristocrats of the South.

The interior of the General Lewis Inn in Lewisburg, West Virginia.

On Monday morning, we received a special private tour of the mysterious bunker underneath the Greenbrier resort, courtesy of Manager of Public Relations Lynn Swann (who is not the Steelers wide receiver, but we're grateful just the same).  Mary Wade knew her from her job as a journalist.

The mysterious Eisenhower-era bunker was designed to safeguard Congress from nuclear attack. Although sequestered below a five-star resort, the bunk beds of the bunker are anything but luxurious.

We were not allowed to take photos of most of the rooms on the bunker tour.  We saw massive generators and water tanks, detoxification rooms, assembly rooms, and tunnels, all under the Greenbrier.

This is a scan of a postcard given to us on the Greenbrier tour, and is a formerly classified artist's rendering of the relationship of the underground bunker to the West Virginia Wing of the Greenbrier.

Also a postcard.  It's a formerly classified construction photograph of the bunker (1960).  The section shown was used as the Exhibit Hall of the Greenbrier

This part of the bunker was "hidden" out in plain view of the public.  Often, the best way to hide something is to have it in the open.

And, yes, another postcard, showing a 25-ton blast door protecting the west tunnel entrance of the emergency relocation facility for Congress, located at the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Although built in the Eisenhower era, the technology and medical supplies were regularly updated by personnel sworn to secrecy, with food and other supplies delivered.  As difficult as it is to keep a secret, it's a small miracle that this was kept hush-hush for over thirty years.

Two views of the 35-ton steel and concrete blast door, designed to withstand a "modest nuclear blast" 15-30 miles away.

Mary Wade and Lisa taking the fascinating tour of the secret bunker.

I took a photo of the black and white poster, a formerly classified photo from the 1950s, displayed on the bunker tour at the Greenbrier.

Closing The Bunker

A display at the bunker outlining the Washington Post Magazine article that exposed the secret of the nuclear war bunker in 1992.  The newspaper's rationale was that "in the end, we concluded this was a historically significant and interesting story that posed no grave danger to national security or human life," noting that with current nuclear weapons, there would be no time for an evacuation.

Who knows how many secret nuclear bunkers still exist?

After the bunker tour at the Greenbrier, we drove to Lewisburg cemetery to visit the site of Lisa's relative from the 1800s, part of her ongoing geneology research.  She has found direct relatives dating back to the 1600s so far. 

On the way we saw many beautiful homes in charming Lewisburg.

Another beautiful Lewisburg home.

The front porches are an especially appealing aspect of this historic architecture here in Lewisburg and elsewhere in West Virginia.

A license plate map by Northern Californian artist Aaron Foster in a Lewisburg art gallery.

Downtown Lewisburg, WV, named after Andrew Lewis, who established a camp near a spring that is now called Lewis Spring. 

We ate at a couple of restaurants here and looked at some of the various antique shops before heading back to Charleston.


We returned home to Lisa's parents home in Charleston, saying goodbye to Mary Wade.  I guess some people have to work.  She did.  She wrote this very article for the Times West Virginian.

Later that week, Lisa and I went to the Cultural Center in Charleston, the capital of West Virginia. 

Lisa admiring the 2007 Quilt and Wall Hangings Exhibition, featuring 62 exquisite quilts and wall hangings representing the talents of West Virginia quilters. Quiltmaking is one of West Virginia’s oldest and most treasured art forms.

The Great Wall of China exhibit at the Cultural Center in Charleston.

Mary Wade, journalist, notes that the Cultural Center was built while Arch A. Moore Jr. was governor in the 1970s.  And because people thought the boxy building was mausoleum-like, it was dubbed "Archie's Bunker," after the popular '70s TV character from "All in the Family".

Just outside the Cultural Center in Charleston is the Capitol Building, completed in 1932 (the 1885 capitol building was destroyed in a fire in 1921).

Cass Gilbert, one of the first celebrity architects in the U.S., designed the Capitol Building. Gilbert's also designed the U.S. Supreme Court Building, the Woolworth Building in St. Louis, and is considered a skyscraper pioneer.

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