In 2011, a staffer at Washingtonian found a government ID in a Metro parking garage and gave it to Garrett M. Graff (the magazine’s editor-in-chief at the time) to track down its owner. “Since I reported about that world, he figured I’d know what to do with it,” Graff says.
Graff immediately noticed something strange.
“The back of the ID had these evacuation instructions on it. And so I got on Google Maps and followed the instructions and they led to a road that very clearly went into the side of a mountain, and you can see on the Google satellite view big concrete bunker doors.”
Raven Rock, a hollowed out mountain near the Maryland-Pennsylvania border, is reportedly one of the undisclosed locations Dick Cheney worked from after 9/11.
That discovery inspired Graff to comb through newly declassified documents to learn more about the U.S. government’s plans in the event of a nuclear war or other catastrophe. His research culminated in the new book “Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save ....”
At first, the government didn’t plan to let “the rest of us die.”
“In the early 1950s, the government really hoped and believed it would be able to save most Americans,” Graff says.
As bombs became more destructive, “plans and ambitions gradually shrunk until, realistically, the best they could hope to do is save the senior leadership.”
Drills and disasters have shown that the federal government is too complex and unwieldy to pluck out of D.C. by helicopter and set up in an underground bunker — though that was, and still is, the basic plan, Graff says.
One such shelter is the mountain fortress Graff tracked down: Raven Rock. Here’s more on it, plus other tidbits from doomsday scenarios past and present.