Mount Weather is about 48 airline miles west of Washington, DC; about 54 miles by road.
The facility's address is 19844 Blue Ridge Mountain Rd. (VA Rt. 601). The road runs northeast-southwest along the mountain, roughly on the line between western Loudoun County and eastern Clarke County. Rt. 601 terminates at two major highways: Rt. 7 to the north and Rt. 50/17 to the south. Directional signs indicating "Mount Weather EAC" are located at both intersections [as of August 2003, these signs may have been removed]. The FEMA facility is approximately halfway along the road.
Note: Mount Weather is a secure installation and does not admit unauthorized visitors. There are few places where one can park along Rt. 601, and walking along the road is unsafe due to the lack of a shoulder in most places.
FEMA's MWEOC Fact Sheet provides a good overview of Mount Weather's unclassified activities.
The FEMA document, however, says nothing about the large underground complex which is the facility's most famous feature, nor does it mention the installation's "black" continuity-of-government mission.
From its inception as "High Point" in the 1950s, Mount Weather has been the emergency-operations headquarters for the federal civilian agencies and officials of the Executive Branch. That mission, originally part of the federal Continuity of Government program, continues to this day. Its details are highly classified. Mount Weather is operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), successor to the Office of Emergency Preparedness.
Information released by FEMA focuses on Mount Weather's role in disaster preparedness and mitigation. That mission includes telephone registration of disaster victims seeking assistance, and on-site training of state and local emergency-management officials. Students in these courses are housed on the west side of the property in buildings which appear from the outside like military barracks, but which contain individual rooms furnished like those in a modest motel. An unusual feature is a notice posted in each room, explaining the site's extensive security regulations
For more information about Mount Weather's history and activities, readers will find GlobalSecurity.org's web page an excellent resource.
Many names have been associated with the Mount Weather facility over the years. Here's a list:
the current official name, which first appeared publicly some time after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
the previous official name for the facility. It was probably selected to emphasize FEMA's disaster-assistance role over the agency's classified "black" missions.
an early code name for the facility
a name seen in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers records
USAICA operated classified emergency relocation sites in the earlier years of the Cold War.
This name appears in various Web references, but its origins and authenticity are unknown.
code name for the Presidential Emergency Facility which is/was located within the Mount Weather complex.
a small town about 8 miles northwest of Mount Weather. FEMA employees sometimes use this name, and Mount Weather has a post office box in Berryville. Otherwise, the town has no known connection to the facility.
a small town about 8 miles northeast of Mount Weather, with no known connection to the facility.
a small town about 5 miles northeast of Mount Weather. The facility's street address is in Bluemont; otherwise the town has no known connection to Mount Weather.
the AT&T communications station at Mount Weather. This name was probably intended to be deceptive; the other AT&T "Washington" locations are in Washington, DC. AT&T facilities are typically named for a nearby place or for the mountain on which they're located.
another misleading name for AT&T's presence at Mount Weather
informal name used by AT&T employees when referring to Mount Weather
a name found in an AT&Ttariff and a 1965 AUTOVON subscriber list; circumstantial evidence suggests it might be Mt. Weather
the fictitious name used by authors Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey in their 1962 political thriller Seven Days in May
The ability to communicate with other elements of the federal government has always been an essential requirement of Mount Weather's mission. Multiple telecommunications links, using diverse media, provide redundancy and flexibility. This section is incomplete but will be updated from time to time.
This network diagram from 1955 shows the locations to which Mount Weather had voice and teleprinter links.
A terrestrial microwave relay system provided by American Satellite Corporation linked Mount Weather to a communications facility known as Site C, located atop Quirauk Mountain, north of Fort Ritchie, MD. Site C is a radio communications outpost of the Alternate Joint Communications Center (Site R), a major Department of Defense emergency relocation site near Blue Ridge Summit, PA. The AmSat link is no longer operational.
View a map of the microwave route.
Dedicated, buried AT&T N-carrier cables linking Mt. Weather to AT&T's Winchester No. 2 and Warrenton No. 2 offices on the Upper Strasburg - Lynchburg cable. N-carrier technology used frequency-division multiplexing to transmit multiple voice circuits on twisted-pair copper cables. These links are no longer operational.
View a map of the cable routes.
Two hardened cylindrical microwave towers serving the Presidential Emergency Facility, code-named CRYSTAL, along with a White House Communications Agency switchboard and communications center. Information about CRYSTAL towers can be found on the Presidential Emergency Facilities page.
Updated on February 5, 2013 at 13:13 by Albert LaFrance