Q. Are there any remaining Cold War-era fallout shelters in Ann Arbor?

A. The Observer learned of just one surviving private fallout (aka bomb) shelter, in the tranquil Ann Arbor Hills neighborhood. The current home owner on Bedford Road says the only outward evidence is a slightly sunken lawn where two feet of soil cover a nineteen-by-twenty-seven-foot bomb shelter.

Added to the house in 1960 or 1961, the shelter has its own buried water tank, in case municipal water services were destroyed, and a hidden air vent to the surface. The passageway connecting the shelter to the home’s basement makes a ninety-degree turn to reduce radiation intensity, and the entry door is made of steel two inches thick, with heavy steel bars on the shelter side in case the occupants needed to barricade it against desperate neighbors. In case the residents themselves were trapped, a few blocks on one wall were installed without mortar, so that they could have been removed to burrow out.

There must be many other fallout shelters in the area. It’s estimated that anywhere from 200,000 to half a million were built nationwide. The exact number can’t be known: some home owners arranged to have their shelters built at night, so that their neighbors would never know.

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