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High Point in 1954

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  • David Krugler
    I have a query regarding the readiness of the underground facility at Mt. Weather circa November 1954. A cabinet report among the records at the Eisenhower
    Message 1 of 9 , Jun 28, 2005
      I have a query regarding the readiness of the underground facility at Mt. Weather circa November 1954. A cabinet report among the records at the Eisenhower Presidential Library, dated December 1, 1954, describes an executive branch relocation exercise called Operation Readiness, which was held at Mt. Weather on November 20, 1954. According to the notes in the report, "The meeting was held in the underground chamber at High Point [Mt. Weather], a room approximately 35 by 100 feet. The room was divided into separate cubicles for the Cabinet-NSC group and for the various area discussion groups. Communications within the chamber were by means of a public address system, buttressed by three mobile TV cameras and TV monitor sets stationed in each cubicle . . . This arrangement simulated the planned development of the High Point underground facility where individual rooms will be available for the various functional areas, equipped with adequate intercom and outside communications equipment." Also according to the notes, some 110 people attended this meeting

      From the National Archives, I have an undated floor plan of High Point from a folder entitled “Nov. Alert 1954.” Judging from the folder title, this floor plan must correspond to the status of Mt. Weather at the time. The participating executive officials called themselves the Interim Assembly of key mobilization agencies; as the floor plan shows (attached as a jpeg.file), the first floor of the conference room had this same name.

      My question is this: could the underground space at Mt. Weather, for which excavation began in 1954, already have contained a three story building? This seems unlikely. Furthermore, as the key at the bottom of the floor plan indicates, the structure had speakers for the public address system in the attic and the basement. Since an underground structure likely would not have an attic, and certainly not a basement, something is amiss. It could be that the folder is misnamed and the floor plan does not relate to Operation Readiness at all. Or it could be that such a structure existed on the surface at Mt. Weather in November 1954 and its conference room was simply given the same name as the group meeting underground. Also, could 110 people all fit into a 35 by 100 foot space divided into cubicles?

      By the way, the following notations on the document are my own: the archival location, the circle and question mark on the plan key, the highlights, the notes about the Dec. 1 report and Bluemont, and the arrows next to the first floor diagram marked Office Space. The other notations were on the original.

      David Krugler






      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • James Browne
      Hight Point where? -- Jim Browne
      Message 2 of 9 , Jun 29, 2005
        Hight Point where?


        --
        Jim Browne
      • Albert LaFrance
        ... From: James Browne To: Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2005 8:37 AM Subject: Re: [coldwarcomms] High
        Message 3 of 9 , Jun 29, 2005
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "James Browne" <jamesm.browne@...>
          To: <coldwarcomms@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2005 8:37 AM
          Subject: Re: [coldwarcomms] High Point in 1954


          > Hight Point where?

          High Point is/was one of several code names for the facility now known
          officially as the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center, near Bluemont,
          VA, about 45 miles west of Washington, DC:
          http://coldwar-c4i.net/mt_weather/index.html .

          Albert
        • Albert LaFrance
          ... From: David Krugler To: Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2005 1:33 AM Subject: [coldwarcomms] High Point
          Message 4 of 9 , Jun 29, 2005
            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "David Krugler" <kruglerd@...>
            To: <coldwarcomms@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2005 1:33 AM
            Subject: [coldwarcomms] High Point in 1954

            David,

            Excellent research - thanks for sharing it! Unfortunately your JPG image
            didn't come through; the list is set up to remove attachments as a
            virus-prevention measure. Could you possibly upload it to the group's Files
            section, at:
            http://groups.yahoo.com/group/coldwarcomms/files/ ?

            Regarding the mention of a building's attic and basement, I agree it's
            unlikely the reference is to one of the underground structures. I believe
            the construction at Mt. Weather is similar to that at the AJCC; i.e.
            free-standing one-to-three story buildings on shock mounts within the
            excavated cavern.

            One possibility I'd suggest is that the building in question may be one of
            the surface structures. Specifically, the site's above-ground campus
            includes a building like a country mansion, which looks considerably older
            than the others. It may be the original Weather Bureau station. I'm pretty
            sure it's the structure labeled 405 on this map:
            http://coldwar-c4i.net/mt_weather/mtweather_map_east_annotated.jpg .

            Albert
          • James Browne
            Thanks for the info, I thought he meant Hight Point NJ.
            Message 5 of 9 , Jun 29, 2005
              Thanks for the info, I thought he meant Hight Point NJ.
            • David Krugler
              Sorry folks, I didn t realize the attachment of my floor plan for the High Point building would get weeded out. It s now available as a jpeg file at
              Message 6 of 9 , Jun 29, 2005
                Sorry folks, I didn't realize the attachment of my floor plan for the High Point building would get weeded out. It's now available as a jpeg file at
                http://groups.yahoo.com/group/coldwarcomms/files/
                It's in the Route and Site Maps folder and is titled high point floor plan.
                (Albert, thanks for the upload directions.)

                Albert suggested that the building in question is 405, an older, surface structure that resembles a country mansion and may be the original Weather Bureau station. See
                http://coldwar-4i.net/mt_weather/mtweather_map_east_annotated.jpg

                This makes sense when one takes a closer look at the floor plan. The center of the building has a large central staircase; directly behind it is a smaller staircase that looks like a service stairwell. Also the foyer on the first floor looks pretty spacious. This design suits a country mansion much better than it does a government relocation office.

                If the building had been converted by late 1954 and had the communications equipment listed on the floor plan key, it's interesting that the Interim Assembly chose to meet underground and went to the trouble of putting in a public address system and the portable TV system rather than meeting in the surface building. I would guess that Eisenhower insisted the exercise be as realistic as possible. Incidentally, Eisenhower was not present for Operation Readiness (he hated to be underground, as many of those close to him observed) but, according to the meeting notes, "At the beginning of the meeting the President met with the assembled group for about 15 minutes by means of phonevision." Any thoughts on what "phonevision" was?

                David
              • Kenneth Coney
                Excavations at Mt. Weather actually started in the thirties as a joint project of the CCC and the Bureau of Mines (safety division). The site is an old mine
                Message 7 of 9 , Jun 29, 2005
                  Excavations at Mt. Weather actually started in the thirties as a joint
                  project of the CCC and the Bureau of Mines (safety division). The site
                  is an old mine which the Bureau took over and experimented with to find
                  newer and safer ways of digging them. I have never seen anything
                  pertaining to what, if any use, the site received during WW II. I concur
                  that the floor plans are probably those of the original weather station.
                  David Krugler wrote:

                  >I have a query regarding the readiness of the underground facility at Mt. Weather circa November 1954. A cabinet report among the records at the Eisenhower Presidential Library, dated December 1, 1954, describes an executive branch relocation exercise called Operation Readiness, which was held at Mt. Weather on November 20, 1954. According to the notes in the report, "The meeting was held in the underground chamber at High Point [Mt. Weather], a room approximately 35 by 100 feet. The room was divided into separate cubicles for the Cabinet-NSC group and for the various area discussion groups. Communications within the chamber were by means of a public address system, buttressed by three mobile TV cameras and TV monitor sets stationed in each cubicle . . . This arrangement simulated the planned development of the High Point underground facility where individual rooms will be available for the various functional areas, equipped with adequate intercom and outside communications equipment." Also according to the notes, some 110 people attended this meeting
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >>From the National Archives, I have an undated floor plan of High Point from a folder entitled “Nov. Alert 1954.� Judging from the folder title, this floor plan must correspond to the status of Mt. Weather at the time. The participating executive officials called themselves the Interim Assembly of key mobilization agencies; as the floor plan shows (attached as a jpeg.file), the first floor of the conference room had this same name.
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >My question is this: could the underground space at Mt. Weather, for which excavation began in 1954, already have contained a three story building? This seems unlikely. Furthermore, as the key at the bottom of the floor plan indicates, the structure had speakers for the public address system in the attic and the basement. Since an underground structure likely would not have an attic, and certainly not a basement, something is amiss. It could be that the folder is misnamed and the floor plan does not relate to Operation Readiness at all. Or it could be that such a structure existed on the surface at Mt. Weather in November 1954 and its conference room was simply given the same name as the group meeting underground. Also, could 110 people all fit into a 35 by 100 foot space divided into cubicles?
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >By the way, the following notations on the document are my own: the archival location, the circle and question mark on the plan key, the highlights, the notes about the Dec. 1 report and Bluemont, and the arrows next to the first floor diagram marked Office Space. The other notations were on the original.
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >David Krugler
                  >
                  >
                • Albert LaFrance
                  ... From: David Krugler To: Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2005 12:31 PM Subject: [coldwarcomms] Re: High
                  Message 8 of 9 , Jun 29, 2005
                    ----- Original Message -----
                    From: "David Krugler" <kruglerd@...>
                    To: <coldwarcomms@yahoogroups.com>
                    Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2005 12:31 PM
                    Subject: [coldwarcomms] Re: High Point in 1954


                    <SNIP>
                    > If the building had been converted by late 1954 and had the communications
                    equipment listed on the floor plan key, it's >interesting that the Interim
                    Assembly chose to meet underground and went to the trouble of putting in a
                    public address >system and the portable TV system rather than meeting in the
                    surface building. I would guess that Eisenhower insisted the >exercise be as
                    realistic as possible. Incidentally, Eisenhower was not present for
                    Operation Readiness (he hated to be >underground, as many of those close to
                    him observed) but, according to the meeting notes, "At the beginning of the
                    meeting >the President met with the assembled group for about 15 minutes by
                    means of phonevision." Any thoughts on what >"phonevision" was?

                    I recall that there's at least article about Mt. Weather, appearing on
                    numerous web sites, which makes reference to video conferencing systems at
                    the facility, specifically to meetings conducted via such systems. I assume
                    that's what "phonevision" was, but the notes you found are the first place
                    I've heard a name attached to the concept. A very interesting discovery!

                    BTW, at NARA College Park I came across a status report on various R&D
                    projects being undertaken by the Defense Communications Agency (now Defense
                    Informations Systems Agency) in the 1960s. One of these mentioned an
                    encrypted digital color TV system being developed by the NSA.

                    Albert
                  • Albert LaFrance
                    I just found this web site which identifies Phonevision as an early pay-per-view TV service developed by Zenith. The aspect of the system most relevant to
                    Message 9 of 9 , Jun 29, 2005
                      I just found this web site which identifies Phonevision as an early
                      pay-per-view TV service developed by Zenith. The aspect of the system most
                      relevant to High Point is the transmission of a scrambled video signal which
                      was decrypted at the viewer's home by a key, received either via a phone
                      line or over the air:
                      http://www.deadmedia.org/notes/7/078.html

                      Perhaps OEP/DCA adapted Zenith's secure video transmission technology for a
                      conferencing system. The timeframe fits well, with the commercial verson
                      being tested successfully in 1951 and 1954.

                      Albert
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