Preparedness-Cold War Style: A Tour of an Idaho Civil Defense Bunker

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by Imasham, Aug 21, 2017.

  1. Imasham

    Imasham Monkey

    Hey folks,

    This post is image intensive.

    While staying in Dubois, Idaho as part of my eclipse viewing trip I had the opportunity to tour a local civil defense bunker. It was built in 1963 within a natural lava tube cave. The area is just a few minutes from Craters of the Moon National Monument. I will relate the details as they were told to me.

    Some of the pictures are dark and somewhat blurry for which I apologize. Using a flash made little difference and the autofocus sensor had difficulty locking on to something.

    It was a very cool experience to tour the facility. If anyone was questions I'll do my best to answer.

    My kids and I were the first ones to arrive for the tour and following instructions we arrived at a tube in the ground! We thought this was the entrance and explored a bit. There was an antenna tower and power. The tube had a locked door.

    As other vehicles arrived and drove past us we realized we weren't at the entrance, but the emergency exit. The bunker was built into a natural lave tube and was 33 feet underground. The entire facility is 750 feet long. The entrance itself was a cave and we walked down a short path to go inside.

    As we entered the cave the temperature fell quickly, almost as if we went through a door. Ahead of us we could see a cinder block wall with a door. We waited at the door while someone crawled down the tube shown above and turned on the lights (the switch being at the bottom of the tube).

    Immediately upon entering the door the first thing we saw was many, many drinking water barrels. They were all empty...the water apparently having evaporated years ago.

    Immediately behind us, just inside the cinder block wall, was a fuel tank. The fuel was for a generator, now long gone.

    Walking forward a short way was a table with four old style army stretchers.

    Walking forward past the stretchers were more drinking water barrels beside a large stack of cartons.

    The cartons contained survival crackers and carbohydrate supplement (whatever that is/was). There were MANY, MANY cases of these, all still full.

    On the ground was a footlocker filled with medical booklets. The light brown device at the bottom of the picture is an old filmstrip projector and inside the case underneath it was a Self Help Medical Course.

    Moving forward, the cartons were stacked beside a large room. It appeared to be a classroom/dining area. On the walls were county maps. On one of the tables was a sanitation kit, the lid of which was a toilet seat. Inside were toilet supplies.

    The large room had a smaller room in one corner that was used as a communications center. Old comm equipment was scattered everywhere.

    Continuing past the classroom, but looking back at it, you can see that on the roof was stored more sanitation kits. In the picture where you can see the ladder I am standing in the area that would have been the toilet area. The sanitation kits would have been where I'm standing. The area is right beside the bottom end of the emergency exit tube from the first picture. The idea was that the tube also provided ventilation for the toilet area.

    Here are some closeups of the emergency exit tube including one looking up the tube to where I had been standing outside.

    When the cave was prepared lots of sand was brought in to make the ground easier to walk on.

    The bunker was designed to hold 2,000 people for up to a week. There was no other food stored other than what I've shown. An old timer who had been on the build committee said the idea was that on the way to the bunker, local stores would have been raided and food brought in by arriving people. There was no plans for cooking stoves or anything like that. There were no beds and people would have needed to bring their own supplies.

    On the way back out, after passing through the door, I noticed pipe in the stone roof. It was to have been an exhaust pipe for the generator, which was outside the cinder block wall to reduce noise.

    Just before leaving the facility I asked the town rep if I could have a canister of crackers and he agreed. Each canister was 18 pounds of crackers!

    Last edited: Aug 21, 2017
  2. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    So, how did it smell? Musty cave, old plywood, an old house, what?

    Do you think it was able to support the numbers they claimed?
    sec_monkey and sarawolf like this.
  3. sarawolf

    sarawolf Monkey+++

    Oh wow good tour, thank you.
    Dunerunner and sec_monkey like this.
  4. Imasham

    Imasham Monkey

    Actually the smell wasn't to bad. It was mildly musty but not bad. I'm not sure how airtight the steel door in the cinder block wall is and there may be a slight draft from it which would flow up the emergency access tube. There were mouse/rat droppings everywhere but since the place is not maintained any longer that made sense.

    As far as the numbers go I think they are reasonable, but probably barely. For a short term location it probably could have been done but the air would have been stale. Even with the lights on the cave itself was quite dark. It was absolutely just a minimum survival, no creature comfort location...last a week, let the fallout dissipate and then get out.
    sec_monkey, Dunerunner and chelloveck like this.
  5. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Dunerunner, sec_monkey and 3M-TA3 like this.
  6. ED GEiN

    ED GEiN Monkey+++

    Who owns this today?
  7. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

  8. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    More likely Madison County....
    Dunerunner likes this.
  9. Imasham

    Imasham Monkey

    The link you provided is not the cave I was in although it is very close. When you click on the link and then zoom out you will see Dubois to the west. The cave I was in was immediately to the north of Dubois...less than 1 mile. I believe it is owned by Clark County as they mentioned on the tour that it was designed to hold the entire county population.
    Dunerunner likes this.
  10. Kingfish

    Kingfish Self Reliant

    Very cool thread.
  11. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Ah, just across the County Line, from Madison County.... Spent my College Years, in that country... Loved every minute of it.... Drove many of those Back Roads in my 1955 4X4 Dodge PowderWagon Panel Truck... Many good times and plenty of memories...
  12. Imasham

    Imasham Monkey

    A Ricks boy huh?!!!
  13. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Yup... Spent a pile of time at "Rickety College... 40 Years ago.... Still have a few Friends, that live in the area... although many more are now Dead and Gone....
  14. Imasham

    Imasham Monkey

    I'm glad you like it. I must say, touring the bunker was one of the more cooler experiences of my life. I am sorely tempted to open the canister of old crackers to see what they're like! The tour guide, who is the county rep I believe, said that a school group he gave a tour to "begged" him to let them try the crackers and they were very stale!
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