Fallout shelters: Underground but not forgotten

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Earlier this month in Hawaii, a false alarm for an incoming missile sent thousands of people scrambling for cover. During the Cold War, that kind of threat was on the minds of many Americans who feared the Soviet Union would launch a nuclear attack against the United States.

Americans built thousands of fallout shelters to protect themselves from a nuclear attack and there are still some left in Bismarck. Dennis Murphy's dad built one in the basement of his house.

"We had four beds in there, two of them were on the wall and two of them were on a stand like bunk beds. It was, like my sister said, it was nice and quiet and it was easy to sleep down there," said Dennis Murphy, Jamestown resident.

The Murphy's weren't the only one that had a shelter in their home, Beth Kampbell owns a house that had a shelter in it as well.

"The first time we went through the home, we didn't even notice that there was a fallout shelter in the basement. Basically it was just a concrete wall," said Kampbell.

The Kampbell's decided to take out the shelter because they didn't see a need for it anymore.

"My husband wanted the space in the basement, so he just started pounding away and getting rid of it," said Kampbell.

The State Historical Society says the shelters were mainly built because people felt like they were doing something to keep their family safe.

"Realistically, the facilities were more of an emotional assurance. They had water and food, but only for a certain number of days," said Mark Halvorson, State Historical Society.

Fallout shelters varied in sizes depending on what people wanted to store in them and how long they thought they might have to live in containment. The Murphy's had a shower, sink, toilet and a stove in theirs.

The Heritage Center has two exhibits showing you what a fallout shelter looked like and a missile control panel for launching nuclear warheads.