The Cold War has left many remnants. A lingering geopolitical competition with Russia, vast stocks of nuclear weapons, and a plethora of great movies. But nothing has probably captured the public’s imagination like the deep underground military bases the U.S. built during that period.
What’s the Purpose of Such Bases?
Many of these underground bases were designed to provide protection from weather, war, or famine. Yet, some of them are still shrouded in mystery as to their actual purpose and function.
Some of these underground bases house nuclear defense technology while others are said to potentially contain alien life. One of the bases is even used as a command post for high-ranking government officials in the event of war or a major natural disaster.
Regardless of each base’s stated purpose, the common theme for each is its security, allure, and relatively secretive existence.
In this article, I’m going to explore four of the most interesting underground bases used by American military or government personnel.
1) Cheyenne Mountain Complex
First on our list of deep underground military bases is the Cheyenne Mountain Complex located on the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station near Colorado Springs. According to www.norad.mil,
“At the height of the Cold War in the late 1950s, the idea of a hardened command and control center was conceptualized as a defense against long-range Soviet bombers. The Army Corps of Engineers supervised the excavation of Cheyenne Mountain and the construction of an operational center within the granite mountain. The Cheyenne Mountain facility became fully operational as the NORAD Combat Operations Center on Feb. 6, 1967.”
“The installation came to house elements of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), U.S. Strategic Command, U.S. Air Force Space Command and U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). Under what became known as the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center (CMOC), several centers supported the NORAD missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control and provided warning of ballistic missile or air attacks against North America.”
The Cheyenne Mountain Complex falls under the command of the U.S. Space Force, a U.S. military branch so new and unique that I still find myself having trouble believing that it isn’t a myth. Although both NORAD and USNORTHCOM are housed in Cheyenne Mountain Complex, the two organizations use a mere 30 percent of the base within and their staff comprises only five percent of the daily population at Cheyenne Mountain. In other words, there are a significant amount of secret locations even within an already very secretive base.
2) FEMA’s Underground Facility
The second base is the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center. The Mount Weather Special Facility isn’t a military base per se, but instead houses FEMA’s (Federal Emergency Management Agency) National Emergency Coordinating Center.
The facility is “located on a 434-acre mountain site on the borders of Loudon and Clarke counties. The above-ground support facilities, with 240 employees, include about a dozen buildings providing communications links to the White House Situation Room.”
According to fas.org,
“The site was originally acquired by the National Weather Bureau to launch weather balloons and kites. In 1936 it passed to the Bureau of Mines, which bored a short experimental tunnel less than 300 feet beneath the mountain’s crest to test new mining techniques. Based on a favorable evaluation of the hardness and integrity of the mountains rock, the Bureau began construction of the facility’s tunnels in 1954, which were completed by the Army Corps of Engineers under the code name ‘Operation High Point.’ Total constuction costs, adjusted for inflation, are estimated to have exceeded $1 billion. Tunnel roofs are shored up with some 21,000 iron bolts driven 8 to 10 feet into the overhead rock. The entrance is protected by a guillotine gate, and a 10 foot tall by 20 foot wide 34-ton blast door that is 5 feet thick and reportedly takes 10 to 15 minutes to open or close.”
In addition to housing FEMA, this installation is also home to the National Processing Service Center, Satellite Tele-registration Center, Disaster Finance Office, Disaster Information Systems Clearinghouse, Disaster Personnel Operations Division, and Agency Logistics Center. The names of some of the organizations seem more made-up than actual, which could hint at something else entirely; but I’ll leave that speculation up to you.
So, despite this not being a confirmed militarily-used location, employees of this facility have a direct line and access to the White House Situation Room. This is something that even some of the most powerful military establishments in America cannot claim. Because of that, I believe this facility is no doubt worthy of inclusion on a secret and deep underground military bases lists.
3) Raven Rock
The third entry into our deep underground military bases is the Raven Rock Mountain Center, located near Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania. If you haven’t noticed yet, there is a theme with many of these underground locations: mountains.
The Raven Rock Mountain Center is rubbing shoulders with the most top-secret bases in the world, as it is designed to be a major command post in the event of an all-out nuclear war.
According to www.militarybase.net, “The Raven Rock Mountain Complex (RRMC) is a highly restricted military installation complete with an underground nuclear bunker. It [incorporates] remotely-located, hardened and secured facilities that could be used to run military operations and even the entire country in the event of a national emergency such as a nuclear war.”
“The mission of Raven Rock Mountain Complex is in some ways an open secret; this 650-acre installation is an underground nuclear bunker and emergency operations center and is part of a system of bunkers including Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado and the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center in Virginia.”
While we know the gist of the purpose of this base, what goes on inside it and what technologies are present within is a much larger secret.
Despite being designed specifically for a nuclear attack, the base has seen other uses, for example, Vice President Dick Cheney was transported to the base following the 9/11 attacks.
It currently houses a staff of approximately 100 but has the capacity to house and protect thousands.
Raven Rock has also made its way into pop culture and is mentioned in many books and television shows.
4) AREA 51
We’ve finally reached the most famous base on the list, the Nevada Test and Training Range, otherwise known as Area 51.
Located at Groom Lake in southern Nevada, Area 51 is without a doubt the most talked-about secret base in the world — which is a paradox. While I don’t have any proof that Area 51 is actually located physically underground, it is definitely underground in its nature.
Area 51’s name captures not only American but worldwide imagination. This base has been recreated in dozens of movies and it is claimed that Area 51 houses everything from live aliens to the alien craft they arrived in. The fact that numerous UFO sightings have occurred in the vicinity of the base further leads people to believe that some extraterrestrial stuff happens there.
Whether there are aliens or spaceships there I can’t say, but we do know that Area 51 either has developed or is currently developing and testing aircraft and other similar technology for the benefit of the U.S. military.
It has been alleged that the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter jet was designed, housed, and tested there prior to it being released into the fleet.
These five deep underground military bases were designed to help sustain both life and government in the event of a catastrophic disaster, whether natural in nature or caused by man’s ego.
Stay tuned for Part II which will take a look at secret bases throughout the world.