Early Presidential Emergency Facilities

System Description, Locations and Microwave Routes

(courtesy of John Cross - updated 12/5/2011)


Atop Lambs Knoll on South Mountain, near Boonsboro, MD


At the Alternate Joint Communication Center on Raven Rock Mountain, Blue Ridge Summit, PA

(courtesy of John Cross - updated 12/5/2011)


Atop Cross Mountain near Shimpstown, PA


Fort Reno Park, Tenleytown, northwest Washington, DC

Cartwheel Exterior Images

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Oct. 2, 2000

Dec. 22, 2002

Dec. 22, 2002

Dec. 22, 2002


Mount Weather Special Facility, Bluemont, VA

The famous Mount Weather Special Facility, a federal Continuity of Government installation and a Presidential relocation site, featured a White House Communications Agency (WHCA) switchboard and communication center, and two hardened microwave towers linking it to the other White House emergency sites.

These cylindrical concrete towers were similar in design to the Cannonball facility, but were almost completely underground except for the plexiglas-covered antenna decks which comprised the two uppermost levels of the towers. The towers were connected by tunnels to Mount Weather's main underground complex.

The Crystal towers are located on the east and west sides of Mount Weather; the east tower's microwave link connected to the Cartwheel facility, and the west tower's microwave link communicated with a relay station code-named Cowpuncher, located on Roundtop Mountain west of Martinsburg, WV. Cowpuncher was identical to the Cannonball tower, but it has been demolished and no evidence of it remains at the site.

The Crystal towers are still intact and their environmental systems are operational, but all of their communications equipment has been removed.

The WHCA operation was located in Mount Weather's Building 13. The location of that building is unknown to this author, but since the above-ground buildings at Mount Weather have numbers greater than 100, it is reasonable to assume that 13 is in the underground space. There is informed speculation that the building is on the east side of the site.

Crystal Aerial Images

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Overall site

Crystal east

Crystal west

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Updated on August 20, 2012 at 21:10 by Albert LaFrance