Project Greek Island was a top secret
government project to build a relocation
facility for Congress
in the event of a nuclear strike on the nation's capital
. Also known as Project X
and Project Casper
, the facility was intended solely for the legislative branch
of the government. Mount Weather
and Site R
existed for the other two branches.
The Greenbrier golf resort, located about 250 miles WSW of Washington D.C. in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, was chosen as the location by the Eisenhower Administration. In exchange for allowing them to build the shelter, the government would finance the new West Virginia Wing of the Greenbrier Hotel, as well as the expansion of one of their golf courses. The new wing would also provide perfect cover for the operation. The bunker itself was to be a fallout shelter and not a blast shelter - it could not withstand a blast inside a range of fifteen miles.
Construction of the two floor, 112,544 square foot bunker began in 1957. The bunker contained housing for 1,100 people in the form of several sixty man dormitories as well as private rooms for senior members of Congress. A power plant was built to provide self-sufficient power for forty days, and provisions for sixty days were stored in the kitchen facility, which included a 400 seat cafeteria designed with irritating floor patterns to discourage lingering. High tech communications rooms were built on both floors, a 16,000 square foot work area, and smaller-scale reproductions of the senate and house floors, complete with miniature American flags and portraits of the Founding Fathers on the walls. Rounding out the facility was a medical unit featuring a pharmacy, dental center, x-ray station, ICU, and several operating rooms.
The bunker was completed in 1962 at a cost of $14,069,000, just in time for the Cuban Missile Crisis. Greek Island was kept under full alert throughout the crisis, with thousands of documents transferred from Washington to behind its thick walls. The plan called for the Congressmen and their aides to be transferred to Greek Island by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. After entering through one of the bunker's four twenty-five ton, eighteen-inch thick doors, they would continue to a decontamination facility, where they would be showered and issued new clothes (their old clothes systematically destroyed in the 'pathological waste incinerator'). The families of those bunkered were to be given housing in the hotel's conference room.
Perhaps more interesting than the bunker itself is the fact that until it was exposed in 1992 by the Washington Post, it was regularly maintained and upgraded. AT&T installed a telephone system in 1980. Computers and televisions were continuously upgraded and maintained. Food was regularly replaced and new water put in the tanks. This was all done by a twelve person team of government employees known as the Forsythe Associates. They maintained the plant daily, down to changing desk calendars and keeping up with the medical prescriptions of current Congressmen, all the while posing as TV repairmen contracted by the hotel.
Greek Island was quickly decomissioned after its 1992 exposure. After the government terminated its lease on the facility in 1995, the bunker was opened for tours to Greenbrier guests, and in 1997, it was opened to the general public at $25 bucks a pop.