Former Greenbrier employees discuss keeping bunker a secret during Cold War

Greenbrier County

Underneath the grounds of the exclusive Greenbrier Resort lie a government secret planned by the Eisenhower Administration — a bunker built between 1958 and 1961. It would be a U.S Government Relocation Facility designed to accomodate both the U.S Senate and House of Representatives in the event of a national emergency.

When Ted Kleisner accepted his dream job of Director of Operations at the Greenbrier in 1980, he would later find out his title meant much more. When Paul “Fitz” Bugas would walk into the resort as a TV repair man, he had other plans. 

“When they called me up and started asking me strange questions about my military background my selective service number, the status of my discharge… I was bewildered,” Kleisner recalled. “This was not what I thought it was going to be.”

They kept watch and maintained the bunker so it was ready if ever needed. The bunker featured dorms, a kitchen, power plant, and an exhibit hall still used by guests who did not know they were in it.  Under the threat of prison time, it was a secret the men could not even tell their families.

“You sign a document that requires as you’re being briefed on a top secret project, it includes your agreement that disclosure of the agreement is tantamount to treason,” Kleisner added.

The secret was finally out in 1992 when the Washington Post published a story exposing the facility.

Now Fitz and Kleisner sit in the briefing room where Congress would address their messages to the public. While they are thankful they never had to go forth with the secretive plan, they are delighted to see tours and information about the bunker being shared with today’s generation.

“I felt it was important to preserve what was here, ” Kleisner said. “I’m very proud to see how it’s done.”

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