America's Secret Government bunker hidden under a luxury hotel stocked with 30 years of supplies to keep most influential America's alive in a nuclear fallout
It is the 'Day After' nuclear war with the Soviet Union and the government of the United States convenes to try and steer the nation through the apocalyptic aftermath - but this is not Washington D.C.
Instead Congress are meeting in a secret bunker built under the luxurious Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, protected by 3-foot-thick concrete walls and an air-intake system designed to filter out dangerous radioactive fall-out.
Secretly constructed under the luxurious hotel five hours away from the capital by order of President Eisenhower from 1958 to 1962, the bunker was codenamed 'Project Greek Island' and was built as scions of America's political classes such as the Kennedy's and even the Duke and Duchess of Windsor vacationed above.
Immense protection: Chef Richard Rosendale opens a blast door while walking to his kitchen in The Bunker below the Greenbrier Resort January 10, 2013 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Finally complete in 1962, the bunker was the size of a Walmart store and boasted rations for 30 years and 1,100 beds, assigned individually to a serving member of the United States government.
Built under the guise of completing a new west wing to the famous retreat, the 112,000-square-foot bunker, deep under the posh Greenbrier resort boasted an 'Exhibit Hall' 89 feet (27 m) by 186 feet (57 m) beneath a ceiling nearly 20 feet (6.1 m) high and supported by 18 support columns.
Either side of this room were two smaller halls - one seating about 470 people, which was big enough to host the 435-member House of Representatives, while the smaller hall had a seating capacity of about 130, suitable as a temporary Senate chamber.
The Exhibit Hall was designed to be used for joint sessions of Congress.
Broadcast center: An interior view of the Communications Briefing Room of a former government relocation facility, also know as the 'bunker'
The West Tunnel Blast Door, which weighs 25 tons and serves as an entrance to the former government relocation facility under Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia
Dormant government: The setup of the dormitory at White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia beneath the Greenbrier Resort's West Virginia Wing
Tears: A box of Pixie facial tissues is seen in the setup of the infirmary which is on display underneath Greenbrier Hotel
For 30 years, though, staff working undercover as television repairmen kept the bunker constantly ready to support 1,100 people, with everything from food to books, magazines and board games
Contact: Communication equipment is seen on display inside the bunker designed to serve as a relocation site for members of the U.S. Congress
At the time, the cost of the whole secretive venture was $14 million.
In addition to the huge bunker that had a a broadcast center, a dormitory to sleep 1,000 people, a kitchen and hospital stocked up with 30 years of supplies, there was also a huge 7,000-foot landing strip.
This was designed to be able to fly the government as quickly as possible from Washington D.C. to West Virginia in the event of a Soviet Attack.
The bunker, a vast box protected by 5-foot-thick concrete walls and 18- to 25-ton blast doors, was built at the direction of President Eisenhower and completed in 1962, when the United States and the former Soviet Union were bracing for what appeared to be an inevitable nuclear war.
Grand but unassuming: The front entrance of Greenbrier Resort is seen in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Sprawling building: The exterior view of Greenbrier Resort is seen from the top of a nearby mountain in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Dignitaries and luminaries: Duke of Windsor, Edward VIII, and Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson were guests at the Greenbrier as was a young Senator John F. Kennedy (right)
The bunker, a vast box protected by 5-foot-thick concrete walls and 18- to 25-ton blast doors, was built at the direction of President Eisenhower and completed in 1962
For 30 years, though, staff working undercover as television repairmen kept the bunker constantly ready to support 1,100 people, with everything from food to books, magazines and board games.
But the rows of narrow steel bunk beds were set up for efficiency, not comfort.
'This was not built to preserve individuals,' said Linda Walls of the Greenbrier Hotel to NPR.
'This was built to preserve a democratic system of government.'
Some 70 Greenbrier employees worked there on a need-to-know basis. Signs, several of which are now on display, blared such warnings as, 'Share a Ride, Not Your Secrets' and 'Keep It Under Your Hat ... The Enemy Has Ears.'
There were working radio broadcast booths and a TV studio with two backdrops, the U.S. Capitol framed by fall leaves and the White House rimmed in spring flowers.
Outside world: The setup of the Communication Room in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The bunker, codenamed 'Project Greek Island', was planned by the Eisenhower Administration
Nuclear fears: Covers of past issues of Life Magazine featuring nuclear bomb and protections are seen on display at a former government relocation facility, also know as the bunker, at Greenbrier Resort July 14, 2006 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Eisenhower decided that in the late 1950s, with the advent of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMS) that America faced destruction if nuclear war with the Soviet Union erupted.
'I feel impelled to speak today in a language that, in a sense, is new — one which I, who have spent so much of my life in the military profession, would have preferred never to use,' he said.
'That new language is the language of atomic warfare.'
So, he decided that the preservation of the government was a top priority and in 1958 workers began on 'Project Greek Island'.
During the construction, hotel staff and the famous guests were told that the giant hole in the ground was for a new conference center, were in fact, it was for the bunker designed to preserve democracy.
Above ground: A worker carries a mop past a piano in the Upper Lobby of the Greenbrier Resort January 10, 2013 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
At the height of the Cold War: December 1983, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, USA --- Lounge at the Greenbrier Hotel Resort --- beneath lies the never-used bunker
Part of the site’s appeal for Eisenhower, historians say, was that the resort and its owner, the railroad operator CSX Corp., had a long-standing relationship with the government. The Greenbrier once served as a 2,000-bed Army hospital and held diplomats from enemy nations after World War II.
Deep in the mountains, it was unlikely to become a target. And weather experts theorized that air flow patterns would clear fallout quickly.
Secrecy about the bunker was broken in 1992 when an article in The Washington Post Magazine argued that it was no longer viable.
After its existence was revealed by an investigative reporter in 1992, it was decommissioned and it became a popular attraction, drawing between 30,000 and 35,000 visitors annually.
Had it not been exposed in 1992, there's a good chance this would still be the secret home of the U.S. Congress, but that home is now elsewhere and remains a secret.