Saturday, November 16, 2013



As we mentioned in Part 1 of our series, the Cold War era meeting minutes from the top secret government relocation site known as Mount Weather (aka The Special Facility, aka High Point, aka the Classified Location) are mind-numbingly routine. Indeed, these notes are probably as stultifying as your last corporate conference call. In short, when we happened upon these documents at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library, we were hoping for Seven Days in May but what we got was Office Space. And just as we did in Part 1, we have combed through the bureaucratic dross to find a few noteworthy highlights. In other words, we read the entire document so you wouldn’t have to. It is, however, embedded at the end of this post in case you want to read the whole thing. So without further delay, here are the gems.

The year began with the promise of more dining options.

Cafeteria News_02121965

In the minutes for the February 12, 1965 meeting, it was announced that the phrase “DEFCON 4” would not be used at the facility, but rather the less alarming advisory to “monitor news broadcasts/telecasts” would be deployed. Note: FAR stands for Federal Agency Representatives (i.e. the people attending the weekly meeting at the Special Facility) and CINCONAD stands for Commander in Chief, Continental Air Defense Command.


The February 12th minutes also featured an inside (?) joke about syndicated newspaper columnist Drew Pearson and rabbits. Hmmm.


March brought news of an exciting new training tape about brainwashing in Korea.


The April 16th notes revealed that Mount Weather has a firing range…

Firing Range_04161965

…And that food services had attained “a very high level of compliance with regulations.” Leftover business from 1964 regarding a site barbershop was also raised.

Food Service_Barber_0416165 

The June 18th minutes announced a dance at the American Legion hall in Berryville, Virginia.


The July 2nd notes previewed an upcoming briefing on “Censorship Plans.”


The July 23rd minutes announced, among other things, a farewell party for U.S. Army Interagency Communications Agency (USAICA) official Colonel Bruce Caron. The party was to be broadcast live over the facility’s closed circuit channel 2.


The August 6th minutes included mention of “emergency Chaplain replacement.”

Chaplain Replacement_08061965

The August 20th notes promised an investigation into the matter of “speeding carts” in the corridors of the Special Facility.

Cart Speeding_08201965 

The August 27th minutes announced the company picnic (?).


October brought “constructive” criticism of the cafeteria.

Cafeteria Criticism_10221965

The year ended on a high note with congratulations to the Mount Weather team for their handling of the Northeast Blackout of November 9th.

Blackout Congrats_11191965

To read the letter referenced in the minutes excerpt above click on this link.

And, finally, the Special Facility Meeting Minutes in their entirety…

Mount Weather Meeting Minutes: 1965 by Bill Geerhart

Stay tuned for Part 3.

Monday, November 4, 2013


Meeting Minutes Header_Hi Res

Since at least 1962 (when authors Fletcher Nebel and Charles W. Bailey II described a presidential refuge called Mount Thunder in their bestselling political thriller Seven Days in May), the public has speculated about the activities inside a government super bunker known as Mount Weather (aka High Point, the Special Facility, the Classified Location). Mount Weather has proven to be such an irresistible and mysterious symbol of state secrecy over the years that it has served as the location of dramatic scenes in fictional entertainments like the last episode of The X-Files, the 2002 motion picture The Sum of All Fears and the 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Mulder-MountWeather-2 copy

But what is Mount Weather really like? Could it possibly live up to its paranoia-inspiring legend? The short answer is no – at least as far as its 1960s heyday is concerned (we’ll leave it to future researchers to examine the more modern history of the place). How can we answer our own question with such confidence? We recently stumbled upon hundreds of pages of declassified Cold War era Mount Weather meeting notes and other memoranda at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library. These documents, which we will be presenting as a series of posts on this blog, paint a picture of life at the “Special Facility” that is not so special. The meeting minutes, in particular, reveal the site to be less like the science fiction and action films mentioned above and more like the workplace satire Office Space. Indeed, anyone who has ever had to sit through weekly conference calls for their job will look at these documents and nod in pained recognition of the tedious bureaucracy. It is all here: the parking space notices, key card photograph reminders, retirement announcements, company picnics, flu shot reminders, and the list goes on.


This first installment in our series will focus on the weekly minutes of the “Federal Representatives Meeting, Special Facility Branch” for the year 1964. Subsequent years will be featured in future posts. If there is anyone out there reading these documents who participated in these meetings, we would love to hear from you.

The following are some excerpts from the text that struck as being notable. Of course, you can also simply skip right to the full document and be bored silly.

The January 17, 1964 minutes addressed the possibility of opening a barbershop on the site.


A couple of weeks later, in the January 31 notes, it was determined that the barbershop issue required “further study.” Spoiler alert: the barbershop conundrum is revisited in our next Mount Weather Memos post.

Barbershop_Further Study

In the January 24th minutes, the issue of reserved parking was raised – a recurring theme in 1964. In this instance the unauthorized parking was blamed on “shift workers.”

Reserved Parking Complaint

Speaking of “shift workers,” the November 13, 1964 notes include a reminder that the Mount Weather cafeteria closes at 3:00 p.m. so that the “limited staff can clean the tables.” Throughout the documents that we found, the subject of the cafeteria comes up almost as frequently as the status of various civil defense test exercises.

Cafeteria Hours

On March 27th the staff was warned about a “rabies problem.” A rabid fox had been killed on the site and, in a  line that recalls the feverish paranoia of the red scare, everyone was warned “to take due caution of animals showing aggressive, erratic or purposeless behavior.”

Another running controversy throughout these memos is the usually poor ratings scored during staff telephone tree tests - something that the world’s greatest continuity of government site should, ideally, have covered. Here is an example of the problem from the June 5th minutes:

Telephone Tree Test 

On June 19th it was announced that an in-house closed circuit (channel 2) television news broadcast called “Noon Report” would premiere on June 22nd. The response was tepid and the program was later bumped to 3:00 p.m.

Noon Report 

The minutes from October 23rd bring us a snapshot from the pre-voicemail era of office technology. These notes prove that even at one of the most technologically sophisticated offices in the world, it was once extremely expensive and cumbersome to dodge a phone call from a supervisor.

Primitive and Expensive Voicemail

We will conclude this installment of Mount Weather Memos with a warning about snake dangers…

Snake Dangers

Read the full document:

Mount Weather Meeting Minutes: 1964



Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library
Federal Records: Office of Emergency Planning
Box 10
Folder: Minutes of Special Facilities Meetings, 01/10/64-12/16/65