A bit of cave history - cold war fallout shelters

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A bit of cave history - cold war fallout shelters

Postby Marduke » Mar 15, 2010 10:00 pm

While browsing on an unrelated subject, I just happened to stumble upon a very interesting historical document. It is a report from 1965 titled "AN EVALUATION OF SHELTER POTENTIAL IN MINES, CAVES AND TUNNELS".

I encourage you to browse to your home state for a unique snapshot in history.

http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD ... tTRDoc.pdf
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Re: A bit of cave history - cold war fallout shelters

Postby Phil Winkler » Mar 16, 2010 8:22 am

Brian,

That is an interesting document. I can remember both Shelta and Three Caves having Civil Defense Fallout Shelter signs on them back in the early 70s. In many of the caves then there was still canned water and hard candies, too. Many of us carried those hard candies on cave trips back then. Somebody went to a lot of trouble to visit and catalog all those caves. It's a shame the premise was wrong from the start, though.
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Re: A bit of cave history - cold war fallout shelters

Postby BSnyder » Mar 17, 2010 8:12 am

Many of us have seen old canned crackers still stored in one of these sites.
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Re: A bit of cave history - cold war fallout shelters

Postby Cody JW » Mar 17, 2010 7:35 pm

I remember seeing those signs on all kinds of buildings,keep it quiet though-we are showing our age,young eyes could be watching.
It only takes one person to surrender a dog to a kill shelter ,but it takes many to rescue it.
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Re: A bit of cave history - cold war fallout shelters

Postby Phil Winkler » Mar 18, 2010 6:48 am

How about air raid drills? We would crouch under our desks and not look towards the windows to prevent being blinded by the atomic flash.

And people wonder why I worry.
:roll:
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Re: A bit of cave history - cold war fallout shelters

Postby Martin Sluka » Mar 18, 2010 7:55 am

http://www.cavemk.cz/the-vypustek-cave/

with photo-gallery and movie - and you may visit it.
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Re: A bit of cave history - cold war fallout shelters

Postby Larry E. Matthews » Jul 24, 2010 12:03 pm

It would be interesting to have a list of caves that still have Fallout Shelter supplies in them.

I can think of two (2) off the top of my head:

The Lost Sea (Tennessee) still has a neat stack of shiny cans that held provisions.

Dunbar Cave (Tennessee) has a few green canisters (small barrells) left. Of course, Dunbar Cave is closed at the present time by the State of Tennessee, who owns it.

Can anybody think of any others?

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Re: A bit of cave history - cold war fallout shelters

Postby Phil Winkler » Jul 24, 2010 12:24 pm

This is a good question for Torode or Varnedoe. I remember opening bags of hard lemon flavored candy and cans of water, too. Shelta Cave was a designated fallout shelter. I don't know if the sign is still there, tho.
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Re: A bit of cave history - cold war fallout shelters

Postby Larry E. Matthews » Jul 24, 2010 1:32 pm

The cans at the Lost Sea contain "Fortified Crackers". Yum, yum. Add the canned water and the lemon drops and there you have a real feast................sitting in the dark..............waiting for the Fallout to settle out of the atmosphere.

Whew !!!

Thank God they never did start a nuclear war. Let's hope they never will.

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Re: A bit of cave history - cold war fallout shelters

Postby NZcaver » Jul 24, 2010 1:42 pm

Coincidentally I was on a dig project a couple of weeks ago at Grand Canyon Caverns, Arizona, which was (is?) a fallout shelter. The civil defense supplies are still in there, and are one of the tour attractions.

Image
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Re: A bit of cave history - cold war fallout shelters

Postby Larry E. Matthews » Jul 24, 2010 1:48 pm

That photo is a perfect match with what's here in Tennessee.

The green cans are exactly like the ones in Dunbar Cave and the silver-colored tins are just like the ones in the Lost Sea.

What was in the cardboard boxes?

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Re: A bit of cave history - cold war fallout shelters

Postby NZcaver » Jul 24, 2010 2:03 pm

I zoomed in on the shot and the only stenciling I can make out on the boxes is "survival supplies."

Here's another interesting feature of the display. The boxes in this shot are labeled "medical kit" and the drums "sanitation kit."

Image

There is a display cabinet next to the trail showing the contents of various packaging. I don't remember it all off the top of my head :doh: but the items listed earlier in the topic sound familiar.
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Re: A bit of cave history - cold war fallout shelters

Postby Marduke » Jul 24, 2010 11:41 pm

Phil Winkler wrote:This is a good question for Torode or Varnedoe. I remember opening bags of hard lemon flavored candy and cans of water, too. Shelta Cave was a designated fallout shelter. I don't know if the sign is still there, tho.


Wish I would have checked this thread earlier today so I could ask Torode when I saw him at the NSS office and SCCI Open House at Long Island Cove.
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Re: A bit of cave history - cold war fallout shelters

Postby JD » Aug 19, 2010 12:45 pm

I wrote a lengthy article on this topic for the Journal of Spelean History. About 450 caves and mines were designated as fallout shelters. The boxes included food, radiation exposure kits, medical supplies, etc. The idea was to spend c. 10 days underground when the American and Ssoviets went to full scale atomic war, c. 1961-2. This was JFK's baby, though the idea goes back to WW II at least. The entire population of Van Buren County Tennessee was to take shelter in Big Bone Cave, for example.

"Shelter from the Atomic Storm: The National Speleological Society and the Use of Caves as Fallout Shelters, 1940-
1965"; Douglas, Joseph; v30 #4 (#104) 1996 14 pgs

Btw, there was a big fight in the NSS over whether to resist this bit of governmental stupidity or to work with them and thus help refine the program. There are echoes of this debate in today's WNS debate. The paper isn't very clear, but I argue this debate helped propel the NSS into becoming a conservation group, as opposed to a mostllty scientist and recreational caver organization, which it clearly was in the beginning. The tension between the three is still there today in the NSS
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Re: A bit of cave history - cold war fallout shelters

Postby ArCaver » Aug 19, 2010 8:22 pm

JD wrote:I wrote a lengthy article on this topic for the Journal of Spelean History. About 450 caves and mines were designated as fallout shelters. The boxes included food, radiation exposure kits, medical supplies, etc. The idea was to spend c. 10 days underground when the American and Ssoviets went to full scale atomic war, c. 1961-2. This was JFK's baby, though the idea goes back to WW II at least. The entire population of Van Buren County Tennessee was to take shelter in Big Bone Cave, for example.

"Shelter from the Atomic Storm: The National Speleological Society and the Use of Caves as Fallout Shelters, 1940-
1965"; Douglas, Joseph; v30 #4 (#104) 1996 14 pgs

Btw, there was a big fight in the NSS over whether to resist this bit of governmental stupidity or to work with them and thus help refine the program. There are echoes of this debate in today's WNS debate. The paper isn't very clear, but I argue this debate helped propel the NSS into becoming a conservation group, as opposed to a mostllty scientist and recreational caver organization, which it clearly was in the beginning. The tension between the three is still there today in the NSS


Is there a link to your article online?
I've been having a discussion lately with someone who claims cavers during the cold war were under contract with the Civil Defense to identify caves that could be used as fallout shelters. I remember some of my family doing volunteer work for CD, but not in caves. Is there a way to find out if cave-for-pay was happening in the late 1950s- early 1960s?
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