The Mystery of Spears Mountain

Buckingham Co., VA - Its contents have been a mystery for decades: a top-secret government facility that sits atop Spears Mountain in Buckingham County.

It's been rumored that anyone who got close to it was shooed away by security guards.

For years, all most people knew about the Spears Mountain Facility is what they could see, two awkwardly shaped structures visible from a state road.

"It was always a mystery to me," said Amateur Radio Emergency System Coordinator Gordon Winn.

Winn saw it from the sky.

"As a pilot I would fly over the area and you would see these structures and think, this is an unusual looking thing, whatever it is," Winn said.

The site had one main purpose: radio communication.

Built in the peak of the Cold War, it was one of five top secret stations along the east coast, from North Carolina to Maryland.

In fear of a nuclear attack, the government could safely live and communicate from each station.

"This is the main entrance. They had a camera here to check the person in and usually the person had to have a badge or some kind of identification and then one person at a time would go through the turnstile," Winn said.

The 'mystery structures' at the very top are troposcatter reflector dishes. Radio waves would bounce off these reflectors to reach another site.

"Think of them as very large satellite TV antennas," Winn said.

Back in the 1960's AT&T operated and managed the site under contract for the government. At the time, many locals worked on the construction and upkeep of the property.

Employees were sworn to secrecy, never telling their family where they worked or what they were working on.

"His dad said he was told by the FBI that if they got word of where he was working and what work he was doing that he would have gone to jail for a very long time and would never see his family again," said Steve Rann, a landowner who lives on the site.

Rann bought the property from the government in 2005 and built a house on it. The reflectors are in his backyard.

"The peace and quiet is amazing," Rann said.

Rann agreed to let us peak inside one of the buildings.

The entryway is small. There's an electronic control panel mounted on shock absorber springs to prevent damage, and a stairwell.

Steps will take you 50 feet underground where they used to have living quarters, a kitchen and more. There is a cylinder for the periscope so that the people 50 feet down under could see what was going on at ground level.

"It's almost like being in a submarine," Rann said.

The facility was completely self-sustaining, supplying its own power and water.

"They had washing machines and dryers," Rann said.

"It was like a city," Winn said. "They even had air scrubbers so they could take outside air and bring it in and scrub all the nuclear or bacteria out of the air to make it purified so they could breathe inside."

In the event of a nuclear event, the people inside could survive and communicate with the government.

"It has a historical aspect to it but it also shows what America could do when they put their mind to it," Rann said.

Advances in technology made the facility no longer useful.

The steel structures now serve as nothing more than booster seats for the emergency radio system that sits on top.

The only functioning parts are the Radio Emergency Services Communication systems that sit on top of the reflectors.

This property is still very much private property, so please do not try to see it for yourself.

To see pictures of the site, click here.

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