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Originally published Friday, January 11, 2013 at 10:07 AM

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State archives building doubles as bomb shelter

In the early 1960s, Washington opened an archives building to safely store the state's most important documents. The building, constructed as a largely underground bunker and opened just a year after the Cuban missile crisis, served another purpose not widely publicized at the time: nuclear fallout shelter in case of attack.

Associated Press

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OLYMPIA, Wash. —

In the early 1960s, Washington opened an archives building to safely store the state's most important documents. The building, constructed as a largely underground bunker and opened just a year after the Cuban missile crisis, served another purpose not widely publicized at the time: nuclear fallout shelter in case of attack.

Today, a series of tunnels built to evacuate state officials and staff to the safety of the bunker go largely unused or serve as utility tunnels. But in that era of heightened fear, state archivist Jerry Handfield says "the mood was hysteria."

State-sanctioned bomb shelters from that time aren't unusual. Cold War-era shelters on state government property still exist in several other states, including Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma.

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