Seeing the Greenbrier and the Secret Bunker

August 26, 2019

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Mummy and Daddy took another fun tour… without us. They also took the tour without Mummy’s purse or even their cell phones… apparently it was all TOP SECRET, so doggies were MOST DEFINITELY NOT ALLOWED… but more on that part later. They went to see “The Greenbrier Hotel,” which is located near White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Beginning in 1778, a local pioneer woman named Mrs. Anderson, started using the local Native American tradition of “taking the waters” to relieve her chronic rheumatism… and for the first 125 years, this summer resort (which was at that time called White Sulphur Springs) was the place to go for the healing waters, and also to escape the coastal heat. A spring of sulphur water still sits at the center of the resort property and is surrounded by a columned “spring house” which has been the symbol of The Greenbrier for generations. Today the resort sits on 11,000 acres and has 710 guest rooms, 20 restaurants and lounges and 36 retail shops. Twenty-six presidents have stayed here, the last one to have stayed here during a presidency was Dwight D. Eisenhower.

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In 1858, a prominent Baltimore family, the Calwells, developed the property as a resort and started building the large hotel, completing it in 1913. During the Civil War it was almost burned to the ground by enemy armies. Following the war it was repaired and reopened… becoming a place for both Northerners and Southerners to vacation. At this time, the name was changed to, “The Old White,” and it wasn’t until after it was purchased later by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway that the name was changed to “The Greenbrier,” after the neighboring county. It was also at this time that it became a year-round resort instead of just a summer resort, and golfing became a prominent feature.

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In September 1942, the hotel was commandeered by the US Army for use as a hospital, and the hotel was closed down in order to treat our injured soldiers. The Army paid $3.3 million dollars for the property, that had been valued at $5.4 million dollars. They converted the entire place into a 2,000 bed hospital called Asford General Hospital. It opened in October 1943 and treated nearly 25,000 patients before closing in June 1946. The Army then sold it back to the railroad company for just under the $3.3 million dollars that they bought it for in 1942.

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After getting the hotel back in their possession, the C & O Railroad then hired the renowned interior designer, Dorothy Draper, to redecorate and restore the entire Greenbrier hotel. She used bold colors and modern touches, taking 2 years to complete the work… and the hotel reopened to much fanfare in 1948. The decorations and colors are very colorful with stripes, florals and prints of varying colors, all mixing together within the same room. Mummy said she found it to be a SENSORY OVERLOAD and thought it was hard to really focus on ANYTHING in particular. One piece in itself might be lovely, but then it seemed to CLASH with the piece next to it, or the wallpaper or drapes… but it was certainly worth touring the hotel! In one of the hotel bars there hung a MAGNIFICENT CRYSTAL CHANDELIER, which my parents were told came from the house, “Twelve Oaks” in the movie GONE WITH THE WIND. Some of the crystals were even cut in the shape of OAK LEAVES! There are framed pictures on the wall of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, just in case you don’t remember the movie. One of the guys on the tour turned to Mummy and asked, “Where did she say that chandelier came from?” Mummy told him it was from Twelve Oaks… from Gone With the Wind. He just gave her a blank stare. So Mummy said, “You know… THE MOVIE… GONE WITH THE WIND?  It was in that movie. Have you seen GONE WITH THE WIND?” And he said no. Mummy dang near fainted! She said, “OMG, Are you kidding me?” He said no… he didn’t know that movie. Mummy leaned over to Daddy and said his mother obviously didn’t raise him properly… I mean seriously! ??? We are just little doggies and even we have seen that movie AT LEAST 5 times… and as God is my witness, I will never go hungry again! That was our favorite line!!!

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Now… about that TOP SECRET ROOM that I mentioned earlier. In the late 1950’s, the US government approached The Greenbrier and asked for help in creating a SECRET emergency relocation center to house Congress in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust during the Cold War. It was given the code name, “Project Greek Island.” They hid this building at the same time that they were building the “West Virginia Wing,” over which this SECRET BUNKER is built. It took them 3 years, from 1959-1962 to complete the job. It is the size of two football fields stacked on top of each other, for a total of 112,544 square feet. There are 153 different rooms and only 3 entrances, each one protected by a large steel and concrete door designed to withstand a modest nuclear blast approximately 15-30 miles away, and they prevent nuclear fallout from entering the bunker when they are sealed off. The West tunnel entrance blast door weighs about 25 tons and is 12-feet wide, 10-feet high and 18-inches thick. The two hinges are each 4-feet long, 14-inches wide and 8-inches thick! As they would enter the Bunker, each person would be required to strip down nekkid and enter a decontamination area. Their clothing would be tossed down a chute and burned in case it had any nuclear dust attached to it. They would then enter a shower area where cold forceful jets of water would spray their entire bodies, washing off any contaminants they might have on them… then they would proceed to the next station where they were issued new clothing before entering the main part of the facility. Most of the members would be housed in one of the 18 dormitory-like rooms, with bunk beds lining the walls, and given their own locker. Each dormitory could sleep 60 people, with bathroom facilities and a small lounge set up for each area. Upper-level members of Congress got their own bedrooms. Only the members of Congress and authorized personnel would be allowed to go inside the bunker… their spouses and dependent children would be housed in the “West Virginia Wing,” which WAS NOT underground or anything “safe” like that… but they hoped that westerly winds would “blow the poisoned air away” from them!!! Of course Mummy asked if they would be allowed to bring their PETS with them… the answer was NO! Well, OMG… she said there would be NO WAY she would leave us!!! She said she would DIE FIRST! The Bunker is buried 720 feet into a hillside and surrounded by ceilings and walls that are 3-5 feet thick reinforced concrete. There is then 20-60 feet of dirt between this Bunker and the West Virginia Wing that sits directly over it.

There was a 6,000 square foot clinic with 12 beds, an operating room, an intensive care area, a dental unit and a nurse’s station. Doctors and nurses would have been alerted at the proper time and brought here to fully staff the Bunker!!! The pharmacy was kept FULLY STOCKED with every type medication you can imagine, for 30 years, recycling and restocking  everything as the inventory started to get old, or newer and better medication became available! All of this done in complete SECRECY… just AMAZING!!!

The cafeteria was designed to feed 400 people in one seating, but each meal would require THREE SEATINGS in order to feed everyone inside the Bunker. The kitchen itself covers about 7,500 square feet. You would be assigned a time slot… 1, 2 or 3 so that everyone could be fed. The kitchen was always kept fully stocked with enough food for 60 days… again, this was constantly recycled and restocked as the food products started to age. The food was shuffled down to the Bunker from the kitchen of The Greenbrier Hotel and ordered through the hotel, but despite the huge overages, no one ever caught on that anything weird was going on. Very few people working at The Greenbrier even KNEW that the Bunker was THERE!!!

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Part of the ACTUAL BUNKER was actually disguised as an “Exhibit Hall” and for YEARS was used by the hotel for many conventions and exhibits!!! Thousands and thousands of people came through the “carefully hidden” 18-ton blast door (hidden behind screens and panels with busy wallpaper designs) and never had a clue that they were actually in part of the SECRET UNDERGROUND BUNKER!!!

Anyone who worked on the SECRET BUNKER was made to sign a non-disclosure form swearing to never reveal any information about the TOP SECRET WORK that was being done at The Greenbrier. Even employees there didn’t know the Bunker was being built!  Government employees worked at The Greenbrier as “TV/Maintenance Men” but were really there to keep things going at the SECRET BUNKER.  It was never used, but ALMOST got to be used during the Cuban Missile Crisis!!! It was not discovered until 1992 when Ted Gup published a story in The Washington Post, after a retired member of Congress leaked the information to him. The disgruntled Congress member felt that it was a waste of taxpayer money and had outlived its usefulness because it was too far from The White House, with the use now of long range missiles that leave little time to take cover. Immediately after the story was leaked, the government  decommissioned the SECRET BUNKER. Nothing happened to the journalist for publishing the story, but they surely DID find out who leaked the TOP SECRET LOCATION, and ended up revoking the guy’s pension, rather than sending him to Leavenworth Prison. The Bunker is now leased to a Data Storage Company who has very strict security regarding tours!!! Mummy and Daddy could not take in a cell phone or any type electronic device, no bags, no purses and NO DOGGIES! You are monitored by overhead security devices for the entire tour… it is WORSE than being in a casino… so don’t try anything funny if you go on this tour… just sayin.

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In 2009, the resort filed for bankruptcy, listing debt up to $500 million dollars and assets of $100 million dollars. They said they had suffered from competition from a wide variety of resorts and declining traffic due to people being able to drive to closer vacation destinations rather than take flights. In May of 2009, the Justice family of West Virginia, purchased the resort for only $20 million dollars. The patriarch of the family is the Governor of West Virginia. Today it is a bustling resort with weddings, conferences, political conventions and gatherings of all sorts… as well as being known for their spa, golf courses and casino. The resort offers NUMEROUS activities to keep you busy if you should decide to stay here, and the local area is full of tiny towns that are brimming with character. The Greenbrier is a place you definitely want to put on your list of things to see when traveling through beautiful West Virginia. ?❤️?

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Mary Hamilton
Mary Hamilton
1 year ago

That would be so cool to see! Thank mummy for sharing all this with us! But how could things go on without little doggies?

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Mary Hamilton

Things could NEVER GO ON without doggies… that is what the stupid Congress people just don’t realize!!!

Johnna Wheeler
Johnna Wheeler
1 year ago

Wow again! Your Mommy finds the neatest places to visit and your reviews are fantastic!
Thanks!

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Johnna Wheeler

Thank you for following along with us this summer and we are so glad that you have enjoyed the posts! ??❤️??

Maggie
1 year ago

Interesting read!

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Maggie

I am glad you enjoyed it. ??

Charlette Koger
Charlette Koger
1 year ago

Looks beautiful. I hate that the fur babies had to stay behind. I know they were cool, and resting waiting for your return. Happy Traveling.
♥️♥️♥️♥️
????

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago

We enjoyed getting to nap and Daddy REALLY LOVED THAT BUNKER! ?

Laurie Heikoff
Laurie Heikoff
1 year ago

Just amazing history about the Greenbrier! Thank you, little Millie, for sharing all of this with us!! I am so enjoying hearing about all your vacation adventures!! ?

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Laurie Heikoff

Thank you for all of your comments this summer… we have enjoyed hearing from you! ??

Scarlet warner
Scarlet warner
1 year ago

What a cool place for mummy and daddy to have visited. I’ve never heard of it and next time we’re up that way, we’ll check it out. Thanks Millie for the history of that place .

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Scarlet warner

I think you will really like the place! ??

Daphne Parris
Daphne Parris
1 year ago

Millie LaRue I think you just discovered the Main Problem with our Congress. They all need a Pet. So that’s what has been going on. They don’t know the Love of a Beautiful Pet Furbaby. This is definitely a Fantastic tour Wow. Loved this one. Thank y’all for sharing.

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Daphne Parris

I know!!! Give them all a little doggie and things might calm down up there on the HILL! ???

Susan Thomas
Susan Thomas
1 year ago

OH MY GOSH I nearly spit my sweet tea all over my living room when I read your favorite quote from Gone with the wind! ROFL HE NEVER WATCHED IT??? OH DEAR!!! What is wrong with him? smh I’ve watched it many times!!! I’ve never heard of Greenbrier but what an interesting history… isn’t it also interesting that in the “wealthy” homes you’ve toured they seem to have the idea they have to cram every space with something? I imagine they thought that displayed how much wealth they had to have more “stuff”…. they’ve apparently never heard the saying less… Read more »

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Susan Thomas

Yes, we weren’t invited to go see Camp David’s bunker so my parents went here instead! ???

Carol Copeland
Carol Copeland
1 year ago

Very cool! Too bad doggies weren’t allowed!

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Carol Copeland

Yeah… that was JUST WRING OF THEM! Wrong!!! ?

Sharon Hook
Sharon Hook
1 year ago

Good Afternoon to All,
I am glad to hear Millie that you and your sisters got to rest…I bet you weere beginning to get tired. You have had another amazing Summer filles with a lot of adventures. Mummy and Daddy had a very interesting day.

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Sharon Hook

We got a nice nap while they took the tour so it all worked out. Our trip will soon be over but it sure has been fun! ??

Laura Seavers
Laura Seavers
1 year ago

What an interesting place! I’ve never heard of it, but I have seen Gone With the Wind! ????

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Laura Seavers

Everyone has seen GONE WITH THE WIND!!!! Well… except for that one poor soul on the tour! ???

Cathy Huff
Cathy Huff
1 year ago

I got to do the Greenbrier bunker tour several years ago & was in awe. Sorry you girls didn’t get to go with Mummy.

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Cathy Huff

Mummy said she would never even consider leaving us behind in a National Emergency!!! What is WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE???? ?

Elaine Cardell
Elaine Cardell
1 year ago

Millie, that was very interesting. I have heard of The Greenbriar, but never been. Glad she enjoyed seeing it. I would have to put my foot down about not bring doggies too. Tell mummy the house they based GWTW on is up for sale…..surely she needs it.??❤️

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Elaine Cardell

Lololololol she heard about the house being up for sale… now she needs to get that TWELVE OAKS chandelier!!! Lol

Sandy McDonald
Sandy McDonald
1 year ago

I am with your mom…I would never leave my little girl behind. I could never live with myself or fathom the thought. She is in my heart and my soul and I am in hers. She trusts me to keep her safe. You girls have the best of the best. God keep sending you those sweet blessings.

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Sandy McDonald

Y’all think just alike! Unlike Members of Congress, who seem to have NO HEART AT ALL!!! ?

Joan Evans
Joan Evans
1 year ago

Amazing piece of your history again. I’m so loving your summer holiday. Xoxox.

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Joan Evans

Thank you… I am glad you have enjoyed our posts. ?❤️??

Jeanine Wright
Jeanine Wright
1 year ago

You mean there’s a living being who has NOT seen Gone With The Wind? WOW! THAT’S CRAZY ‘
Thank for this info, sounds like a place to put on my bucket list…BUT, NO DOGGIES? Hmmmmmm…..
Hugs! ????????????

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeanine Wright

???That’s what Mummy was thinking… and he acted like he had never even HEARD OF IT, to make matters WORSE!!! ?

Jeanie Drane
Jeanie Drane
1 year ago

Wowza,what a place to visit,but no furbaby!!!!!!!! No way thats the most precious thing in life my son says mom u loved lexis more than me lolo,she was a daughter i never had ,she was my world, these places dont know what the missed out on. Wowza its a huge place, secretive,bunkers ,wow hospital, so much history, my mind cant imagine all that ,ur a great writer and reader about all these places,itd b so amazing to see wow u have seen so many, u have a photgenic mind,,to capture all this ,gosh but i have seen Gone With The… Read more »

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeanie Drane

I know! I can’t imagine never having seen that movie either!!! WHERE HAS THAT KID BEEN???? Lololololol

Sherri Davis
Sherri Davis
1 year ago

Today’s adventure was awesome! It was very interesting to learn about the hotel and how it changed hands several times! The bunker must have been something to see! I can’t even imagine seeing something like that! The pictures are gorgeous! It is amazing all the places you have shared. I am so glad I am along with you! It sure makes me want to get out of Georgia and see some sights!

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Sherri Davis

Ohhhh I hope that you get a chance to see this place one day! ?? Thank you for following along with us this summer. ?❤️??

SNUGGLES ANNE ENGEL
SNUGGLES ANNE ENGEL
1 year ago

DEAR PRETTY PUP, MY MASTER AND MISTRESS WENT EVERY YEAR TO THE GREENBRIER FOR SOME TIME. WHEN YOUR MISTRESS DARSEY AND MASTER MARK VISIT US, MY MASTER AND MISTRESS HAVE SOME GOOD STORES TO TELL THEM ABOUT THAT RESORT AND THE BUNKER.

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago

Ohhhh Mummy can’t wait to hear these stories!!!

Marcia King
Marcia King
1 year ago

OMG!! How gorgeous and such interesting history! thank you again for sharing it with us! It kills me that people haven’t seen Gone with the Wind., but I couldn’t talk my daughters (now grown) into watching it. Maybe if one of their friends suggests seeing it… lol. Even if Romanticized and fictionalized maybe a bit? lol It’s such an awesome film and helped me learn history. Whenever I think of Atlanta, I think of it as in the film, though I know it’s nothing like that these days. I’m a Yankee transplanted to Nashville, but so appreciate the kindness and… Read more »

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Marcia King

Oh yes… it was just such a great movie!!! Soooo well made!!! Everyone should see it. Thanks for keeping up with us this summer. ??

Lynn
Lynn
1 year ago

This is one place I haven’t seen but would love to visit. And I wouldn’t even have known about it if it wasn’t for you, sweet Millie.

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Lynn

Ohhhh I can’t wait until you visit here and you can report back to me with YOUR thoughts on the place!

Sheri Admire
Sheri Admire
1 year ago

What wonderful story.
Mommy’s favorite line from Gone with the Wind, “Tara, I’m going home, tomorrow is another day!”

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Sheri Admire

That’s a great one! ?❤️??

Lynn Davis
Lynn Davis
1 year ago

Wow! Amazing history! ❤

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Lynn Davis

I know… Mummy was only there a few hours so I am sure there is lots more to learn! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Faye Lawrence
Faye Lawrence
1 year ago

I have always wanted to go there. Such an interesting place.
glad you were able to go there. Extravagant

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Faye Lawrence

Ohhhh I hope you can get there soon. Mummy said it was very interesting!!! ??

Dianna Reynolds
1 year ago

OH I WOULD LOVE TO SEE WHAT YOU HAVE SEEN. SOUNDS SO GREAT. THE PLACE LOOKS BEAUTIFUL IN THE PHOTOS. I CAN ONLY IMAGINE WHAT IT IS TODAY. SO BEAUTIFUL TO BE ABLE TO SEE AND ENJOY ALL OF THIS. THANK YOU SO MUCH. IT IS GREAT TO LEARN OF ALL OF WHAT YOU HAVE SEEN.

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago

We have had a wonderful summer and are headed home this week. I hope that our friends get a chance to See some of the places that we have posted about. We appreciate y’all following us this summer and have enjoyed reading your comments. ??❤️??

Pat
Pat
1 year ago

Thank you so much for sharing all your wonderful travels! Learning so many interesting places to go. Too bad furbabies aren’t allowed in so many places. Many are so well behaved-like your girls.

Sheila Allen
1 year ago

Wow Millie. I guess we don’t know half the things our government has done and is still doing all these years. Tell Mummy how interesting her story is , thank you so much for sharing. I love to read your stories. Mummy and you do such a great job of doing so much research about each place you go. I have loved traveling with you and your family this summer. Thanks for taking us along. Hugs and kisses

Phyllis Singler
Phyllis Singler
1 year ago

Thanks for inviting us to tour with you. It has been delightful!

Wendy Scoggins
Wendy Scoggins
1 year ago

Wow! Crazy that it was a secret for that long! Wow! No doggies and their kids were left above ground! Wow!

Wendy Scoggins
Wendy Scoggins
1 year ago
Reply to  Wendy Scoggins

And didn’t know gone with the wind!?!? What is this country coming to 🙂

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Wendy Scoggins

I know!!! Even the spouses and kids weren’t allowed in the BUNKER!!! Sheesh! ??

Dawn Dupuis
Dawn Dupuis
1 year ago

I enjoyed hearing about the History of Greenbrier and the Secret Bunker. Thank you. Oh my goodness, he never heard of the movie Gone With The Wind. Wow!

millie larue
millie larue
1 year ago
Reply to  Dawn Dupuis

Mummy was MORE SHOCKED about that guy having NEVER HEARD of that movie, than she was over THE SECRET BUNKER!!! ????

Jeannie Lively
Jeannie Lively
1 year ago

I really enjoyed reading this! It is very interesting . Can’t believe he had not seen or heard about the movie?
I’m safe , I saw that one!???
Hugs to you and Mark and kisses to the babies❤️?

Fran Stanley
Fran Stanley
1 year ago

That would be a not to miss tour. Thank you for taking us along with you. I can’t believe there is anyone that hasn’t seen Gone with the Wind!!!!

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