Kuiper looks at something out of the frame, wearing aviation goggles and a red bandana

Abo Elementary School and Fallout Shelter

Kuiper poses with a school sign that says "Abo Elementary School and Fallout Shelter"

Kuiper found something.

We found a real life Fallout Vault in Artesia, NM! Abo Elementary School and Fallout Shelter, home of the “Gophers,” opened in 1962. The first-of-its-kind underground school didn’t close until 1995, when maintenance and asbestos remediation made continued operation cost-prohibitive. In 1999, the site was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Above ground, the school was protected by a 21 in (53 cm) concrete slab, the surface of which doubled as a basketball court. The 33,800 square feet (~3140 m^2) of space below ground included 18 classrooms, storage rooms with cots and 2 weeks worth of rations for 2,080 people,  a 150 kw generator with 10k gallons (37.9k liters) of diesel, air & water filtration systems and a refrigerated room used for cafeteria food (which fortunately never actually doubled as a morgue.) 😮

The school was designed by local architect Frank Standhardt. He said in a Sept 1960 issue of Time Magazine, “I consider my profession derelict on civil defense. We’ve had ten years of grace and done nothing about it.” He originally estimated construction would cost only 10% more than a standard school. This was somewhat optimistic; it ended up being about 21%.

Vault Tec, er, the Office of Civil Defense Mobilization, funded about a quarter of the school in return for the ability to perform studies on the test subjects, er, students. Fortunately the studies were fairly benign, e.g. “A comparative study of the educational environment and the educational outcomes in an underground school, a windowless school and conventional schools.” (They concluded, “Dig and explore and prod and pry as we did, we could find no evidence of ill effects upon pupils, teachers, or parents” but recommended further study.)

The school never served as a fallout shelter, but it did shelter hundreds of people briefly in 1964 when flash flooding left parts of the town 4 ft underwater. And though the emergency supplies were scrapped in 1989 and classes ended in 1995, the facility is still fairly intact. The school district uses it for storage, and Federal law enforcement uses it periodically for training.

Original post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BoMW-oAD0z_/

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