in 1962, a top-secret government bunker was completed deep underneath this White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, resort. Today, visitors can tour the 12,000-square-foot facility.
Since 1778, The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, has been known as one of the nation’s pre-eminent luxury resorts, a place where both U.S. presidents and foreign dignitaries have gathered to enjoy the landmark’s elegant public spaces and experience epicurean dining.
What’s not so well known is that in 1962, a top-secret government bunker was completed deep underneath the resort’s West Virginia Wing, a huge 112,000-square-foot facility that was intended to be used as a fallout shelter for members of the U.S. Congress in the event of a nuclear war. It was maintained in readiness until 1992, when it was decommissioned after an article in The Washington Post revealed its existence to the world.
Now members of the general public, not just those staying at the resort, can take a 90-minute tour of this sobering Cold War relic. Entering through one of the massive doors built to protect against a nuclear blast, visitors 10 years and older can view the rows of metal bunk beds where members of Congress would have slept, the spartan cafeteria where they would have dined and auditoriums where the Senate and House of Representatives would have carried on their duties. The bunker’s hospital facilities, broadcast center and huge power plant can also be seen as part of the tour.
Perhaps most sobering are the decontamination chambers, where arriving Congress members would have been scrubbed down before being issued military-style fatigues, and an incinerator that would have disposed of garbage, classified documents and even human bodies had that gruesome eventuality arisen.
Be advised that the highly popular bunker tours frequently sell out many days in advance, making a three-week advance reservation highly recommended. After the tour, head upstairs to enjoy a carriage ride on the resort grounds or happy hour at the luxurious Twelve Oaks cocktail lounge. 101 Main St. W., White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia 24986, 855/453-4858, greenbrier.com