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2014 Road Trip Photos #24: American Doomsday Machines

Bunker Entrance!

Down here in the bunker, during Armageddon you might not have needed 3 million SPF sunblock.

Conscious survivors of the 1980s remember the uneasy Cold War days, when tensions between America and the USSR were at their peak. Each side had their credos, their agendas, their grudges against each other, their spies, their cross-purposes, and their active, massive, scary nuclear arsenals in case the other side got any deplorable ideas. Movies like WarGames, Fail-Safe, The Day After, Dr. Strangelove, and 60% of all post-apocalyptic sagas mined our fears of mutual assured destruction for cautionary tales, humanist allegories, and disturbing visuals, all the more frightening to us youngsters because we couldn’t be sure that the adult politicians in charge wouldn’t do something stupid and trigger the end of the world.

Both countries still have their differences today, but relations aren’t at anywhere near the same state of hateful paranoia, so everyone’s cut back on their standby nuclear stockpiles. Out in the middle of the North Dakota flatlands, there’s one distant, decommissioned hideout codenamed Oscar-Zero where the U.S. military once stationed a handful of men 24/7 to oversee the controls and prepare to throw the world’s deadliest switches in case the American President declared Game Over.

Today you can bring in the whole family for a visit. There’s a guided tour and a gift shop.

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