Raven Rock Mountain Complex

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Raven Rock Mountain Complex
"Ravenrock",[1]:2 Liberty Township, Adams County, Pennsylvania, United States
The Site R tunnel entrance with abutments (39°43′47″N 77°25′57″W / 39.729642°N 77.432468°W / 39.729642; -77.432468, white figure in illustration) now has a building that is visible from a public road intersection to the west, particularly when trees are bare. The tunnel's other (east) opening is near the military installation's above-ground support area near the Route 16 intersection with Jacks Mountain Road.
Coordinates39°44′02″N 077°25′10″W / 39.73389°N 77.41944°W / 39.73389; -77.41944[2] (mountain summit)Coordinates: 39°44′02″N 077°25′10″W / 39.73389°N 77.41944°W / 39.73389; -77.41944[2] (mountain summit)
TypeNuclear bunker
Site information
OwnerU.S. government
Site history
See also:

The Raven Rock Mountain Complex (RRMC), also known as Site R, is a U.S. military installation with an underground nuclear bunker near Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania, at Raven Rock Mountain that has been called an "underground Pentagon".[4][5] The bunker has emergency operations centers for the United States Army, Navy, and Air Force. Along with Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center in Virginia and the Cheyenne Mountain Complex in Colorado, it formed the core bunker complexes for the US Continuity of Government plan during the Cold War to survive a nuclear attack.[6]


The installation's largest tenant unit is the Defense Threat Reduction Agency,[7] and RRMC communications are the responsibility of the 114th Signal Battalion.[8] The facility has 38 communications systems, and the Defense Information Systems Agency provides computer services at the complex.


Raven Rock Mountain is adjacent to Jacks Mountain on the north while Miney Branch flows west-to-east between them in the Potomac River Watershed. The 1820 Waynesboro-Emmitsburg Turnpike with toll station for the 1787 crossroad was constructed between the mountains, where the Fight at Monterey Gap was conducted after the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg (Stuart's artillery at Raven Rock Gap shelled Federal troops.[9]) In 1870, copper ore was discovered to the north,[10] and the nearby Fountain Dale Springs House was established in 1874.[11] The scenic area's mountain recreation facilities to the west included the 1877 Pen Mar Park, the 1878 High Rock Tower, the 1885 Monterey Country Club, and several resorts (e.g., Blue Mountain House, Buena Vista Springs Hotels, & Washington Cliff House). The 1889 Jacks Mountain Tunnel on the Western Extension (Baltimore and Harrisburg Railway) was completed near Raven Rock Mountain, and nearby stations were at Blue Ridge Summit and Charmian. The Army's 1942 Camp Ritchie was built southwest of the resorts, and a local road was built[when?] eastward from Blue Ridge Summit and intersected the north-south Fountaindale-Sabillasville Road (the intersection now provides access to the RRMC main gate.)

Planning for a protected Cold War facility near Washington, D.C. began in 1948 for relocation of military National Command Authorities and the Joint Communications Service.[citation needed]

Army unit
In 1953 the Army's Raven Rock unit[specify] was part of Joint Support Command, then in 1971 was redesignated as the Directorate of Telecommunications and placed under the garrison commander of Fort Ritchie, where Strategic Communications Command moved. The Directorate was redesignated USACC Site R Telecommunications Center in 1976,[citation needed] then simply USACC Site R in October 1981 (both under 7th Signal Command). Col. Humphrey L. Peterson was the 1983 commander of USACC Site R,[12] which was redesignated in May 1984 as USAISC-Site R.[13] Operation of the center[who?] was removed from the mission when the unit was redesignated the 1111th U.S. Army Signal Battalion under the 1101st U.S. Army Signal Brigade in October 1988 (under the 1108th U.S. Army Signal Brigade in October 1993), and the battalion remained responsible for maintenance, upkeep and communications.[citation needed] The unit became the 114th Signal Battalion under the 21st Signal Brigade after the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Commission.[14]

Super underground communications center[edit]

The planned deep underground communications center was identified in the original 1950 federal petition to seize the Beard Lot, a 1,500-foot-high, mile-long hill located at Fountaindale and extending east and south along the Waynesboro-Emmitsburg road,[15] The "Declaration of Taking" for "United States of America Versus 1,100 Acres of Land" was filed at the Adams County courthouse on 23 January 1951, and made the government the official owner of the 280-acre tract seized from four properties[16] (17 total properties had been requested by 15 February—some only for temporary use).[17] South of and above the Carson service station on the Sunshine trail,[18] bulldozers began work on 19 January 1951; by 3 February a roadway to the site had been leveled behind a farmhouse;[19] and by 24 February underground work had commenced (40 men working "normally" on that date were only performing above-ground construction).[20] By 26 May the Army had named the landform Raven Rock Mountain ("Raven Rock" is a pillar landform to the north along the mountain range)[2] and listed its elevation as 1,527 feet.[21]

By 17 October 1951, there had been two deaths: one due to premature dynamite detonation in the Beard Lot tunnel, and another due to crushing of a power-shovel operator.[22] The S. A. Healy Company was working on the alternate pentagon in November 1951, when Washington [announced] a cut-back in defense appropriations would affect the installation.[23] On 16 January 1952, the government indicated that when completed, the bunker would have a standby group of approximately 100 personnel. Because of construction damage to the Sunshine Trail, the US said it would rebuild the trail in any fashion the state desired.[24]

By 29 March 1952, more than 100 workers were striking from building additional Raven Rock housing at Camp Ritchie, which was to be a supplemental installation for the underground Pentagon at Fountaindale. No work was going on in the Raven Rock (Beard Lot) tunnel at that time.[25] Local travelers having to bypass on the serpentine on the slope between Monterey and Fountaindale grew frustrated during the delay (the incomplete tunnel was derogatorily dubbed "Harry's Hole," for President Truman.) By 7 April 1952, United Telephone Company rights of way had been secured for four tracts, including one in Cumberland Township.[26] Easements for three additional private tracts were filed by the government in December 1953[27] (a 1954 lawsuit against the U.S. by Alfred Holt was seeking $2,000 an acre for his 140-acre woodlot atop the Beard Lot [after] turning down an offer of $2,800 from the government.)[28]

A 1952 Army history disclosed Raven Rock information.[29] Three underground buildings were completed in 1953,[30] the year a guard shelter burned on the installation.[31] By April 1954, "Little Pentagon" development had cost $35,000,000.[32]

Automatic activation[edit]

After the 1954 Air Defense Command blockhouse was built at Ent Air Force Base, where the joint 1955 Continental Air Defense Command was activated, in August 1955 OSD approved the automatic activation of Raven Rock's Alternate Joint Communication Center on declaration of air defense warning or notice of surprise attack[33] (SAC similarly completed a bunker in 1955). The AJCC was equipped with command and control (C2) hardware by the end of 1955.[34]

1956 War Room Annex[edit]

In July 1956 at Raven Rock, a joint War Room Annex was established and was operated by the Air Force, and Raven Rock's readiness was broadened in April 1957 [for] activation prior to emergency if JCS thought it necessary.[33] By 1959, the services as well as JCS regarded Raven Rock as their primary emergency deployment center. For the Air Force, it served as Headquarters USAF Advanced, capable of receiving the Chief of Staff and key officers.[35] After President Dwight D. Eisenhower expressed concern about nuclear command and control, a 1958 reorganization in National Command Authority relations with the joint commands was implemented.[36] On 1 July 1958 Raven Rock's USAF facility, ADCC (Blue Ridge Summit), became one of the 33 NORAD Alert Network Number 1 stations (but with receive-only capability as at TAC Headquarters, Sandia Base, and the Presidio at San Francisco.) On 20 October 1960, the JCS instructed the Joint Staff to establish a Joint Alternate Command Element (JACE) for rotating[specify] battle staffs to Raven Rock for temporary duty.[33] In November 1960, consoles at the Pentagon's Joint War Room became operational,[37] and the Raven Rock JACE was activated on 11 July 1961 under USAF Brig. Gen. Willard W. Smith [with the 5] staffs permanently stationed in Washington and an administrative section at Ft. Ritchie —rotations began in October 1961[33] (Fort Ritchie also had the OSD Defense Emergency Relocation Site.)[1]:2 An expansion project by the Frazier – Davis – McDonald Company was underway in December 1961 at the "little Pentagon",[38] and bunker personnel were evacuated during a 1962 fire.[39] Pentagon construction to provide an entire JCS center at the Joint War Room opened the National Military Command Center (NMCC) in early October 1962.[40] It was initially considered an interim center until a nearby Deep Underground Command Center (DUCC) could be completed after which Raven Rock would be phased out as superfluous, whichever version [50-man or 300-man DUCC] was chosen, but neither was built[41]—nor were SAC's similar Deep Underground Support Center or NORAD's Super Combat Centers.

1962 ANMCC[edit]

Raven Rock's joint War Room, USAF ADCC, and other facilities were designated the Alternate National Military Command Center (ANMCC) on 1 October 1962 when the Burroughs SS-416L Control and Warning Support System with the Semi Automatic Ground Environment had been deployed (Back-Up Interceptor Control began at North Bend AFS in December.) The term AJCC remained in use, only [for] the Army-managed communications complex.[42] On 17 October 1962, DOD Directive S-5100.30 conceived the Worldwide Military Command and Control System with five groups of C2 systems: the National Military Command System was the primary group (to serve the President/SECDEF/JCS) and was to contain the Pentagon NMCC, Raven Rock's ANMCC, 3 NEACP aircraft on 24-hour ground alert, 2 NECPA ships, and interconnecting communications[33]—the Raven Rock bunker was hardened further to about 140 psi blast resistance by 1963[36]:315 when the Cheyenne Mountain nuclear bunker was being completed for tbd psi. The USAF's subsequent IBM 473L Command and Control System with AN/FYA-2 Integrated Data Transfer Consoles and Large Panel Display Subsystem had equipment deployed at both the NMCC and ANMCC[43] (a 2nd IBM 1410 computer was installed by 15 December 1966.)[34]:47

1976 Telecommunications Center[edit]

The USACC Site R Telecommunications Center was designated in 1976, and the 1977 Alternate National Military Command and Control Center Improvement Program was worked on by the DoD Special Projects Office (later renamed Protective Design Center) for a new deep underground C2 center with >3 mi (4.8 km) of air entrainment tunnels (cancelled in 1979.)[citation needed] After the 2001 September 11 attacks, Vice President Cheney used Raven Rock as a protected site away from President George W. Bush.[44] The Raven Rock Mountain Complex was declared part of the Pentagon Reservation under 10 U.S.C. § 2674(g) and on 25 May 2007, DoD policy declared it is unlawful for any person entering in or on the property ..."to make any photograph, sketch, picture, drawing, map or graphical representation of the Raven Rock Mountain Complex without first obtaining the necessary permission."[45]

In 1977, the bunker had an Emergency Conference Room, and the Current Action Center was a military intelligence unit (an Air Force general was responsible for overseeing the installations' communications.)[46]

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the TV series Jeremiah, Raven Rock is a setting and on Prison Break, Raven Rock is an identified location.
  • The complex has an important role in the 2013 sci-fi movie Oblivion, in which it is the headquarters of an underground resistance movement against an alien invasion.
  • In the Fallout universe, it is home to the Enclave, a fictional part of the U.S. government, on the East Coast in Fallout 3, and referenced in Fallout 76 as having been in contact with the AI at the Whitespring Bunker (the real world Project Greek Island) until communications between them were deliberately cut. Publisher Bethesda also used the name for a location in the Elder Scrolls universe.
  • In the third book of the One Second After series, Raven Rock is referred to as "Site R" and is used by the former U.S. government to house highly important citizens and government officials.
  • In the TV series Salvation (TV series), Raven Rock is referred to as a site to house government officials in the case of an asteroid collision with earth.

Further reading[edit]

External images
1952 tunnel photo
Aerial photos
locked gate and shack
  • Garrett M. Graff (2017). Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government's Secret Plan to Save Itself. Simon & Schuster.


  1. ^ a b title tbd (Report). pp. 2, 22, .
  2. ^ a b "Raven Rock Mountain (1184711)". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
    "Raven Rock (pillar, 1211037)". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 39°49′57″N 077°22′49″W / 39.83250°N 77.38028°W / 39.83250; -77.38028
  3. ^ (Report). 1 March 1961. p. 2 http://coldwar-c4i.net/DCA61/01.html. Retrieved 24 October 2011. hardened Emergency Command Post and Relocation site for the Executive Branch of the Government at Mount Weather Missing or empty |title= (help) (separate webpages for each report page)
  4. ^ "Life on the Newsfronts". Life. 1 March 1954. p. 40.
  5. ^ There's no such thing as a "nuclear button" by Chris Cillizza quoting Garrett Graff, "Raven Rock: The Inside Story of the US Government's Secret Plan to Save Itself -- While the Rest of Us Die,"
  6. ^ Garrett M. Graff (2017). Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government's Secret Plan to Save Itself. Simon & Schuster.
  7. ^ Weinberger, Sharon (11 June 2008). "How To: Visit a Secret Nuclear Bunker". Wired.
  8. ^ "Battalion Mission". 114th Signal Battalion, "Signal Masters of the Rock". Archived from the original on 26 November 2005. Retrieved 26 November 2005. (dated copy at archive.org)
  9. ^ p. 199 Conrad/Alexander When War Passed This Way[full citation needed]
  10. ^ "Gettysburg Compiler – Google News Archive Search".
  11. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=wcQlAAAAIBAJ&sjid=m_UFAAAAIBAJ&pg=7196,2316920&dq=fountaindale+raven-rock&hl=en
  12. ^ "Frederick News Post".
  13. ^ "Site-R Raven Rock". Global Security.org. Retrieved 29 November 2010.
  14. ^ "Raven Rock Site R Alternate Joint Communications Center (AJCC) – United States Nuclear Forces".
  15. ^ "Government To Begin Work on Fountaindale Ridge Monday" (Google News archive). Gettysburg Times. Vol. 49, No. 18. 20 January 1951. Retrieved 2 June 2014. Plans of the government to begin work Monday at the "Beard Lot"... were revealed today [Saturday] by Attorney Charles W. Kalp, assistant U.S. attorney at Lewisburg. The "Beard Lot," a 1,500-foot-high, mile-long hill located at Fountaindale and extending east and south along the Waynesboro-Emmitsburg road, will be used, it is believed, as part of an underground world-wide communications center ... government had been granted ..."immediate possession" orders on four of 26 properties previously listed for condemnation in a [federal] petition ... A petition ... originally filed for the entire 1,100-acre area surrounding and including the "Beard Lot."... properties condemned were those of the heirs of Samuele Warren containing 47½ acres, the Hoy Martin property of 103 acres [E of the Fountaindale-Sabillasville road], the three-acre property of Harold M. and Sylvia Caron and the 87½-acre property of Robert and Vialo Kipe. ... super underground communications center [when] the "Beard Lot" is to be annexed, according to the government's original petition ... the Carsons had been told that the government wanted their land "for an entrance. ... the former [turnpike] Route 16, now returned to Hamiltonban township with the opening of the Sunshine Trail, would be used for regular vehicular traffic while the other [Route 16] highway is closed."
  16. ^ "Gettysburg Times – Google News Archive Search".
  17. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2202&dat=19510215&id=NYdhAAAAIBAJ&sjid=3fQFAAAAIBAJ&pg=3727,3891140 https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2246&dat=19510217&id=EaxcAAAAIBAJ&sjid=hlgNAAAAIBAJ&pg=897,3325706
  18. ^ "Gettysburg Compiler – Google News Archive Search".
  19. ^ "The Star and Sentinel – Google News Archive Search".
  20. ^ "The Star and Sentinel – Google News Archive Search".
  21. ^ "Pentagon No. 2" "Shadow Pentagon" https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2202&dat=19510526&id=gaElAAAAIBAJ&sjid=nfwFAAAAIBAJ&pg=3935,4981845s with a finished chamber ... 2,100 feet long [and] four suites for top officials [and space for] a staff of 1,200..in the underground center in peacetime and 5,000 in wartime.
  22. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2202&dat=19511016&id=09slAAAAIBAJ&sjid=ofwFAAAAIBAJ&pg=3127,4029556 https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=6YElAAAAIBAJ&sjid=3fQFAAAAIBAJ&pg=2346,3746550&dq=lincoln-statue+gettysburg&hl=en
  23. ^ "Work Goes on At "Little Pentagon"" (Google News archive). Gettysburg Times. 8 November 1951. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  24. ^ "Gettysburg Times – Google News Archive Search".
  25. ^ "Gettysburg Compiler – Google News Archive Search".
  26. ^ "Gettysburg Times – Google News Archive Search".
  27. ^ "Gettysburg Compiler – Google News Archive Search".
  28. ^ "Gettysburg Times – Google News Archive Search".
  29. ^ "Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Google News Archive Search".
  30. ^ "About Camp David".
  31. ^ "Gettysburg Times – Google News Archive Search".
  32. ^ "Gettysburg Times – Google News Archive Search".
  33. ^ a b c d e Sturm, Thomas A. (August 1966—declassified "6/05/05"). The Air Force and The Worldwide Military Command and Control System: 1961–1965 (PDF) (Report). Retrieved 15 May 2014. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  34. ^ a b Sturm, Thomas A. (August 1967). The Air Force Command and Control System: 1950–1966 (PDF) (Report). USAF Historical Division Liaison Office. Retrieved 2 April 2014. the Army maintained that the Air Force command and control network was insufficiently reliable to permit proper control of Army weapons [e.g., Nike missiles] in a crisis, and as a result the two services were, from a practical standpoint, poles apart on the issue of single control of weapons.
  35. ^ Wainstein, L.-Project Leader (June 1975). The Evolution of U.S. Strategic Command and Control and Warning, 1945–1972: Executive Summary (Report). Study S-467. Institute for Defense Analyses. pp. xi–xxviii. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  36. ^ a b Wainstein, L. (Project Leader) (June 1975). The Evolution of U.S. Strategic Command and Control and Warning, 1945–1972 (Report). Institute for Defense Analyses. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  37. ^ Moriarty, J. K. (June 1975). The Evolution of U.S. Strategic Command and Control and Warning: Part Two (1954–1960) (Report). Study S-467. Institute for Defense Analyses. pp. 139–266. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  38. ^ "Gettysburg Times – Google News Archive Search".
  39. ^ "Gettysburg Times – Google News Archive Search".
  40. ^ Vogel, Steve (2008-05-27). The Pentagon. ISBN 9781588367013.
  41. ^ Ponturo, J. (June 1975). The Evolution of U.S. Strategic Command and Control and Warning: Part Three (1961–1967) (Report). Study S-467. Institute for Defense Analyses. pp. 267–370. In February [1962], the Secretary of Defense approved a National Military Command System (NMCS) composed of four major elements: the National Military Command Center (NMCC), an evolution of the JCS Joint War Room; the Alternate National Military Command Center (ANMCC), a redesignation of the JCS installation at the AJCC; and two mobile alternates, the NECPA and the NEACP.18 The following October he issued a DoD directive on the Worldwide Military Command and Control System (WWMCCS) that outlined the NMCS in detail, to include the NMCC, ANMCC, NECPA, NEACP, and such other alternates as might be established, together with their interconnecting communications; and defined their relationship to the command and control "subsystems" of the service headquarters, the CINCs, and other DoD agencies.19 ... The fixed underground ANMCC would be phased out as superfluous, whichever version [50-man or 300-man DUCC] was chosen, and the other NMCS facilities would be cut back to some degree according to one or the other. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  42. ^ citation 8 in Sturm 1966 on page 18
  43. ^ Brown, C.B. (4 December 1962). 473L DPSS/ICSS Interface Description (Technical Memorandum) (Report). MITRE Corporation. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  44. ^ Steve Goldstein (20 July 2004). "Undisclosed location' disclosed: A visit offers some insight into Cheney hide-out". The Boston Globe. Knight Ridder.
    Dennis Roddy (16 December 2001). "Homefront: Site R is secure, but it's not undisclosed". The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  45. ^ Federal Register report identified at a Federation of American Scientists webpage.
  46. ^ Bertorelli, Paul (25 July 1977). "The Rock: Buried in the bowels of underground Pentagon a mountain waits for war" (Blogspot.com transcription). Hagerstown Morning Herald. Retrieved 3 June 2014. Half mile long tunnels were drilled into the center of the mountain and were curved gently to reduce effects of a blast. ... near Sharpsburg, A great field of giant poles 150 feet high has sprung up 10 miles south of this Western Maryland community a 1953 Washington Post report from Hagerstown said. That project along with a similar one near Greencastle Pa was built as a communication system for The Rock. Known as Site B and Site A respectively both were abandoned in the 1960's when communication improvement made the facilities obsolete.