The following is from Cheri Walsh:

The Shelter Cycle:  Part Two

The enormity of the whole fallout shelter project in the Heart at the Royal Teton Ranch is difficult to comprehend if you weren’t there.   As I think about it now, it was quite an adventure.  Let’s take a tour.

The shelter complex was actually five sections plus a large storage area.   Each section was fabricated from huge pieces of curved corrugated metal.  They were so big they had to be taken up to the Heart in pieces and assembled as they were put into place in the ground.  Even so, one curved piece sitting on a long flatbed truck barely fit through the canyons going up to the Heart. 

There was a tunnel system connecting everything. The tunnels were lined with corrugated metal.

There were little carts about 1.5’ X 3’ that ran on rails in the tunnels.  You would have to lay down on your belly on the cart or get on your hands and knees and pull yourself along the rails through the tunnel.  You couldn’t stand up.  I think the carts had wheels.  They moved easily.  If you were transporting supplies, you could have your stuff on one cart and yourself on another and push both of them through the tunnel.

Each individual shelter of the complex accommodated more than a hundred people. In addition to the dorm area, there was a kitchen with a storage area, showers, toilets and a commons area where decree sessions and school could be held.  

The entrance to the shelter from the tunnel was the type of door used between compartments on submarines.  It was kind of neat opening and closing it.  I felt like I was on a ship.  Each shelter section also had an entrance from the top. You would climb down a ladder to get in from that direction.

Each dorm room had three levels of bunk beds--either three single bunks on each side of the room or three double bunks on one side of the room.

Every little nook and cranny was used for storage space.  There were lots of cabinets everywhere.  Each person had a storage bin in the wall by his/her bunk.  Each person also had a few narrow shelves in the hallway across from the dorm room for personal stuff. 

In the area outside the complex, there were underground storage tanks for propane gas and diesel fuel.  There must have been water storage of some kind, too.

There were a couple of lookout towers above ground on the complex.  I never saw any guns myself, but rumor had it that we had some big guns to use from the turrets if need be.  Bands of marauding citizens after a nuclear disaster seemed like a reasonable possibility.  After all the national publicity, if anything did happen everyone would know where to come for supplies.

And, boy, did we have supplies! Seven years worth.  Seven years was the guideline for how much we should store.  Seven months was also mentioned as the most critical period after a nuclear exchange.  I think seven years had something to do with the earth being poisoned with radiation and growing cycles.  If a nuclear war did happen, it was thought that we would have to lay low for a total of about seven years.

I think there were a couple of storage areas near the Heart.  There were also several storage boxcars near the shelter in the Heart. 

As far as I know, most of the community’s consumable and perishable supplies for the seven-year period were shrink-wrapped and placed on palettes that were stacked at least 20-30 feet high in the huge central storage area of the shelter complex.  This area was dubbed Deep Core Storage or “DCS,” for short.  The area must have had shelving of some sort but I don’t recall.

Inside DCS, there was literally tons of food, everything from rice and wheat to dehydrated vegetables, condiments, nuts, seeds and seaweed.  Much of the food had been grown, harvested, dehydrated and packaged by staff in the food processing plant at the Ranch. 

[Aside: In the fall of 1989, the church offered a survival food program to members.  The packages included food that had been grown and processed at the Ranch as well as from other sources.  There were seven-month, two-year and seven-year packages available for purchase.  They provided for a certain amount of calories and grams of protein per day.  The top-of-the-line seven-year package cost $8000 for about 7,000 pounds of food (including containers).]

On the practical side, think of ordering toilet paper for over 700 people for seven years.  Tani Bowman (Kingston) told the story of her shopping over the telephone for enough toilet paper for the seven-year timeline.  The people on the other end of the phone were flabbergasted at the quantity she ordered.  We all had a good laugh about it. 

There were other similar stories of peoples’ reactions to staff requests for immense quantities or odd items such as 10 manual typewriters and supplies.

There were sobering moments, too.  Seeing big plastic body bags put into storage for people who might pass away while we were underground was one of those moments for me.  It made me stop and think for a minute.

Around February 1, 1990, the editorial department shut down normal operations and most of us helped pack everything for storage.  Some editorial/research packing preparations had been gearing up for months but now it was full on.  We had our own individual offices to pack.  We also had a huge research library to box up.  Most of the library went into storage in a boxcar at Ranch Headquarters near the editorial/research trailers. 

Packing editorial projects was another huge task.  There were always unfinished books that Mrs. Prophet wanted to complete that involved box after box of research material and files.

Once we had things packed at Headquarters, we moved everything up to the shelter complex in the Heart and unloaded it.  A lot of it went into DCS but quite a bit also had to be moved into the section where Mrs. Prophet would be housed.  She intended to write books while underground.  We set up an editorial work area with computers and a research library. 

After the editorial department was moved in, I was assigned to help with whatever needed to be done.  I went onto the night shift and worked bolting in safety belts that were on every person’s bunk.  The thinking behind these was that there may be violent earth changes and we needed to be secured in our bunks if the earth moved around.   At the time, I thought that if there were violent earth movements, we would all be crushed under the weight of the earth that would cave in on all of us…but what did I know?  We would cross that bridge if we came to it.

It was a surreal scene working at the shelter complex those nights.  Outside the complex and in the DCS area, it was a beehive of activity. Crews with big noisy equipment worked on burying underground storage tanks.  A steady stream of supply trucks arrived and were unloaded all night long.  It seemed to me that hundreds of people were busy going about their jobs.  There was mud everywhere.  It was a big noisy mess. 

Inside each shelter, it seemed less busy.  I could be doing my work and only one or two other people might be in there with me doing their job.  I didn’t have the same sense of busyness inside. 

In the meadow area across the bridge over Mol Heron Creek, there was a trailer where communications was housed.  There was also a break area inside that trailer.  Staff would go in there and make peanut butter and toast for a snack.  I lived on that stuff for about a month.  I am sure there were some kind of meals brought to the Heart for the work crews, but a major mealtime was not part of the night shift.  I didn’t mind the peanut butter and toast.  It was so good.  That is real survival food. 

The staff grew to over 700 during the final months of the shelter cycle.  I met some very fine people there.  Among us staff working so hard on the shelters, there was a great sense of camaraderie.  It was exciting and even fun at times. 

The work at hand was so physically taxing that I didn’t have much time to ponder the imponderable thought of a nuclear war actually happening.  Most of me thought it would turn out okay but part me didn’t know.  As I mentioned before, Mrs. Prophet’s conviction that something would happen concerned me the most.  I wouldn’t say I was scared but I was nervous at times, esp. the last few nights leading up to March 15th.

For the most part, during the whole shelter cycle I felt excited to be part of something so unprecedented and important.  Being focused on a cause and project so much bigger than yourself was something that sustained many of us through the years on staff, not just the shelter cycle. 

The masters had told us that being totally prepared in itself could prevent a nuclear debacle.  I held onto that thought when dire scenarios would creep into my mind.  I preferred to hope for the best and not dwell on the worst possible outcome. 

Over the years, the masters had reminded us of the vast scope of our mission and purpose, even beyond this system of worlds.  During the shelter cycle, I often pondered a teaching that Saint Germain had given in 1982.  It was a teaching that gave me hope.  He said that it was prophesied in ancient manuscripts on another world that the victory of cosmos would unfold on planet earth.  He said that is one reason UFOs are so interested in life on our planet.  If that prophecy was there, I figured earth wouldn’t be a total loss if the Soviets launched a nuclear attack. 

The masters told us many eyes throughout cosmos were upon us.  It was so cosmic.  My feet were in the mud but my head was often in the vast starry skies.

Mrs. Prophet would sometimes show up to check out the work on the shelters.  She would walk around and see what was going on.  She wore a big Army parka.   It seems strange now but at the time she fit right in. 

One night several of us were working on the editorial area in the shelter when she came in.  I kept working.  I soon heard her severely chastising a staff member for slacking off on the job.  I had been working all night with him and he seemed busy to me.  Anyway, she went on and on and finally threw him out.  She told him to go report to a construction crew supervisor and do some real work.  I quietly disappeared and found another area to work in until Mrs. Prophet left.  I just did my work and managed to stay under the radar for the most part during that time.   

Mrs. Prophet seemed very uptight through that whole cycle.  I can appreciate the fact that she felt pressure.  In a way, she was caught between a rock and a hard place:  If nothing happened, some would say her prophecies were wrong.  If something happened, life would probably be a nightmare for years to come.  Either way, it would certainly be a major turning point for the church.  I didn’t think much about that, though.  There was too much to do and the future was just one big question mark.

I was actually glad when we were given a target date to have everything completed.  Weeks of intense activity night after night was beginning to wear me down. During the last few days before March 15, 1990, absolutely everyone was working to finish preparations.  I remember seeing young Montessori students unloading trucks in the DCS receiving area.  All hands were on deck for the finale and climax of this great CUT drama.  Would it turn out to be a comedy of errors or a tragedy…or both?  Time would tell.

To be continued.