As we mentioned in Part One and Part Two 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 not what the average person would consider interesting. But when you stop to remind yourself every few pages that the notes were produced by men in a Stranglovian underground office park, they suddenly become fascinating in their utter banality. Here are the highlights from the minutes issued in 1966.
The year began with a request about bunk beds and a suspicious increase in requests for aspirin.
The January 20, 1966 meeting began with an apparent reference to the major broken arrow incident over Palomares, Spain that had occurred just three days earlier. We’re not sure why the state of Florida is cited here unless it was a mistake on the part of the recording secretary. In view of the seriousness of the Palomares event which involved four hydrogen bombs, it is hard to imagine that the Special Facilities team would have been discussing any other nuclear accident.
With the near apocalypse of Palomares barely behind them on January 27, 1966, the issue of whether people should be allowed to sleep in the executive suites during inclement weather was discussed. This request was vetoed.
On February 3, 1966 the persistent rumors of snow removal favoritism on the part of Loudoun County for the Special Facility was brought up.
On March 17, 1966 the Chairman discussed the second, less well known outbreak of rioting in the Watts section of Los Angeles. Per the front page of the Los Angeles Times on March 16, 1966, two people were killed and 25 were injured on March 15. This excerpt also mentions Farris Bryant being nominated to head the Office of Emergency Planning – the agency that had oversight over Mount Weather. Bryant’s predecessor was Buford Ellington.
On April 21, 1966 the issue of the Russians renting property near Mount Weather was discussed. CONELRAD was able to find a number of news clips from the local Berryville, Virginia newspaper as well articles in larger circulation papers. The Soviet Embassy had rented a Virginia estate known as Spout Run Farm (formerly known as Heartsease) near Berryville to use as a children’s summer camp.
The Associated Press dutifully quoted “State Department officials” as saying “the Defense Department had been informed of the proposed lease on the Clarke County property to the Russians and that the Pentagon had not reported any sensitive U.S. installations being in the area.”
The local paper was more honest about the worst kept secret in Berryville. In an editorial published in the Clarke Courier on April 28, 1966: “…somebody should have thought this thing out more clearly before allowing the Soviet Embassy to establish a summer camp and recreation area within a short distance of an apparent vital installation such as Mt. Weather.”
On May 5, 1966 there was another cryptic mention of local “publicity.” This was apparently a reference to a front page article in the Clarke Courier newspaper on the Soviet summer camp complete with photo of the property.
Without the full transcripts of these meetings, it is hard to know exactly what the senior staff at the Special Facility thought of the Russians moving in next door. They almost certainly believed that the Soviets knew about the Special Facility and its purpose. Indeed, in the first comprehensive news story on Mount Weather in Time magazine in 1991, Ted Gup wrote: “…it is assumed that all along the Soviets have known both its precise location and its mission.” The meeting minutes strongly suggest that the attendees were more concerned with local media attention to the site than they were about Soviet spying.
The June 9, 1966 notes highlighted a problem with Western Union not delivering to relocation sites.
The June 23, 1966 minutes provide a push for the FARs (Federal Agency Representatives at Mount Weather) to participate in the company picnic.
In July, the Chairman attempted to cut down on the frequency of meetings during the summer months. This was not approved.
On July 14, 1966 and August 4, 1966 there was more discussion about the publicity over the Soviet summer camp at Spout Run Farm. CONELRAD was unable to find these particular news clips.
Before their meeting on September 15, 1966 the FARs (Federal Agency Representatives) watched on “TV receivers” the landing of the manned Gemini 11 spacecraft.
On October 27, 1966 the chairman previewed what was expected to be an unpopular decision regarding bus service to and from the Special Facility.
On November 17, 1966 Mount Weather employees were complaining about the “curtailment” in bus service.
On December 15, 1966 there were announcements about the holiday meeting schedule and “the nuclear war plan.” Just in time for Christmas!
Read the whole document here:
Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library
Federal Records: Office of Emergency Planning
Folder: Minutes of Special Facilities Meetings, 01/13/66-12/15/66
 “Soviet Summer Camp,” Washington Post via Associated Press, April 23, 1966, B5.
 “Heartsease or Heartaches,” Clarke Courier, April 28, 1966, 4.
 “Soviet Embassy Plans Summer Camp,” Clarke Courier, April 28, 1966, 1.
 Ted Gup, “Doomsday Hideaway,” Time, December 9, 1991, 26.