It was the best of times, it was the… Oh, wait, no. The Cold War was all bad for pretty much everyone involved. During the height of the Cold War, when tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States were at their most inflamed, citizens of both countries feared the realities of war. As a result, people like John Hay would burn through their cash to create shelters that could survive the sure-to-come Red Dawn. While the Soviet Union and the U.S.A. never brought their bombs to bear, the paranoia of the times would lead John Hay to build this amazing Cold War bunker.
Keep on reading to take a peek inside one of the coolest Cold War shelters that you will ever see!
A Sign of the Times
The Cold War was a horrific and tension-filled period where the Soviet Union and the United States of America threatened to go to war. While we now look at the Cold War with gratefulness that it never grew ‘hot’, citizens at the time did not know how things would play out. Would Ronald Reagan tackle the Soviet Union head-on? Was a war between major superpowers once again brewing?
Meet John Hay
John Hay was about as successful as you could hope to be at your chosen profession. After establishing the company Celestial Seasonings, Mr. Hay would go on to become one of the biggest names in the herbal tea industry. With $100mm worth of sales throughout his company’s career, it was safe to say that Hay had made it big.
Even with all of his success, why was John Hay so absorbed by the idea of hiding in a bunker?
The Day After
While John Hay would grow into one of the biggest names in herbal seasoning, the entrepreneur had made his name during the height of the Cold War as a property salesman. Hay had sold his Colorado Ranch to Philips Petroleum for a hefty amount of money. Instead of investing that cash into another business, Hay would turn it toward establishing his own Cold War bunker.
After seeing The Day After on ABC, Hay was absolutely terrified of what could happen if the Cold War turned hot.
Hearing From a Friend
Despite being horrified by the thought of nuclear disaster, John Hay wasn’t going to stay paralyzed by fear. Instead, Hay started talking to friends within the U.S. government, a perk of being rich, we’d assume. Hay would be told by a friend that the Soviet Union was planning to overthrow its own government, thus sending the world into chaos.
Hay knew that he had to act immediately.
A Plan Begins to Form
Fearing that the Soviet Union could dispatch nuclear weaponry on the United States of America, Hay began developing a genius plan. Armed with millions of dollars as well as his own mild paranoia, Hay set his sights on a nuclear shelter in the middle of the woods, somewhere he could safely squirrel himself away.
Hay selected the following location because he thought it gave him the best chance to survive.
Transforming a Cave in Arkansas
Much like comic book characters from our favorite franchises, John Hay would transform a giant cave in the middle of Arkansas into his own fortification. Hay would hire more than 20 workers to haul out 250 million-year-old alluvium from the cave during the transformation process.
Hay would spend more than $2 million on concrete walls alone.
Sprawling Luxurious Survival Complex
As John began developing the hidden complex, his plans began to get away from him. What began as a simple survivalist shelter would turn into a sprawling multi-million dollar complex. In the end, the project became a 5,500 bomb-shelter with blast-proof doors.
Welcome to the Beckham Creek Cave.
End of an Era, Beginning of Another
Despite crafting his million-dollar bomb shelter, John Hay would thankfully never need to rely upon it. By the time 1985 rolled around, the tension between the Soviet Union and the United States had begun to die down. President Reagan had come to the table with other European leaders and powers to bring about a resolution.
Using His Shelter For Other Events
As John adjusted to the idea that his world was not going to end in the immediate future, a plan began to take hold. Like all successful entrepreneurs, John quickly realized that he could turn his emergency investment into a financially viable one. Soon, the Celestial Seasonings co-founder would make a huge change.
What did John do to his bomb shelter?
From Survivalist to Host
Like all successful entrepreneurs, John quickly adapted to the changing of the times. Instead of allowing his bomb shelter to slowly fade away into an albatross of an investment, John transformed the shelter into a pleasure paradise.
How did the former bomb shelter become a luxurious getaway cave?
From Cold War to Celebration
As the Cold War came to its ultimately uneventful conclusion, John sought to renovate his bomb shelter into something akin to a hotel. Instead of hiding away from nuclear fallout, visitors would relax in the lap of luxury as they enjoyed such special features as fine dining and Fred Astaire-level dance flooring.
Ultimately, Hay would pass the project off to another more mysterious buyer.
A Mystery Buyer Approaches
John would decide to sell his cave after taking on advice from his realtor. After speaking with his real estate agent, John would list his bomb shelter for close to $9 million in today’s currency. The cave-home-hotel was nearly 5,500 square feet and nestled within an entire cave.
Soon a wealthy biotech executive from California would come calling.
Meet Mr. Richardson
By the time that 1988 rolled around, John was ready to get out from under his bomb shelter. After striking out with biotech execs, John would find a welcome buyer in the form of a mysterious wealthy man from Missouri. Known only by the name ‘Mr. Richardson’, John was more than happy to let the mysterious figure take the property off of his hands.
What did Mr. Richardson do after he acquired the property?
Transforming the Shelter Again
Where John focused on protecting himself from nuclear winter, Mr. Richardson was far more interested in having a good time. The bomb shelter would be transformed yet again, this time into a nightclub known as The Mullet, according to a former employee named Sherill Ricketts. The Mullet would garner a reputation for being a loud-and-proud club for the rich and famous.
Book A Stay For Yourself
As The Mullet began to grow in notoriety, the shelter would become an expensive destination for the wealthy and bored. For just $1,600 per night, you could live life in your own cavernous bomb shelter paradise. We admit that this sounds like a hard-sell, but just look at The Mullet! Who wouldn’t want to spend a day or two there?
Relax in the Lap of Luxury
If you were one of the lucky individuals who could afford such a costly getaway, you definitely would enjoy your stay. Now going by the Beckham Creek Cave Lodge, resort visitors would enjoy hot water, high-roofed cavern ceilings, complete silence from nature, and much more.
Still, if you are the kind of person to get claustrophobic, maybe this resort isn’t the right place for you. After all, living underground for a few days would be tough for anyone!
Subterranean Getaway Adventure
Even though John Hay had built the bomb shelter for hiding from nuclear winter brought on by the Cold War, we are happy to see that the property retained so much utility throughout the year. Nowadays, visitors from pretty much every income bracket can enjoy a night or two at the shelter, provided there is nothing chaotic going on outside.
Nestled in the Ozarks, spending time at the Beckham Creek Cave Lodge can be as comforting as it is invigorating. Truly apart from the rest of the world, your stay can be as peaceful as you desire it.
One of the Safest Getaways Around
If you were going to stay in a resort during an end-of-the-world scenario, the Beckham Creek Cave Lodge isn’t a bad choice! A blast-proof shelter with state of the art technology and leisure activities, hiding away in a bomb shelter will probably never get more comfortable! With that being said, you will need to keep your eyes open for all manner of interesting insects, animals, and bats. One guest claimed to have awoken to a bat circling her bed!
Unconventional Shelters Are Popular
It’s hard to say just how prevalent these ultra-luxurious bomb shelters are in the world. Armed with enough connections and cash, it is possible to hide in your own custom bomb shelter anywhere in the world. With John’s shelter located in the middle of nowhere in Arkansas, one has to wonder just how many other fortresses are lurking in our backyards!
What Bunker Would YOU Choose
With survival shelters only growing in popularity, now might be a great time to take a tour of your own! You can find unique bomb shelter homes throughout the country, mostly in notably rural places like South Dakota and Arkansas. In the picture above, you are looking at a former United States Army base after it was transformed into a neighborhood of independent bunkers.