Oregon History

End times


Ever thought what kind of damage a nuclear device would do to the Portland metro area? No? Well, wonder no more.

I’ve always had a grim fascination with end times – especially on film or in written form- whether that’d be germ warfare that wipes out most of the population except for a few survivors a la The Omega Man. Or, Stephen King’s The Stand that has a super flu clobbering mankind. And let’s not forget 28 Days Later that did a great job resurrecting a fun genre.

Then there are the serious works – The Day After, Threads, and the most-depressing of them all, Testament.

It was during the 80s that I also read Dr. Helen Caldicott’s Missile Envy that frightened me beyond belief. [If you survive even a small nuclear war, the stench of death and rot, vomit and a growing rat population will not be pleasant. And that’s just in the shelter you’re hiding out it. I’m paraphrasing but that was the gist.]

Coming of age at the end of the Cold War I honestly thought we weren’t going to make it to the 90s. I had also read a book at the time that had maps of US cities and the effects of a small nuclear device that filled me with both dread and a sick sense of glee all at the same time.

And now a new site from Carlos Labs they call Ground Zero.

From their site:

Have you ever wondered what would happen if a nuclear bomb goes off in your city? With Google’s Maps framework and a bit of Javascript, you can see the outcome.

And it does not look good.

Here’s damage from a Chinese missile carrying an ICBM. Yay for you if you live on the other side of I-205. Or Milwaukie.

Here’s the outcome of the missile Slim Pickens was riding in Dr. Strangelove:


And if an asteroid hits us anytime soon?

Yeah, toast:


Happy Holidays!

3 replies on “End times”

Well you ould always ride it out at the old bunker/command center they built in the 50’s at Kelly Butte (Just east of 205). Now it’s covered up with gravel to prevent people from entering it and the area is now a park. From what I understand it was designed to survive a near miss from a Kiloton level device (as oppose to a Megaton level H-bomb) and before the advent of ICMB’s. Watch a documentary called a A Day Called X. It was filmed in Portland and it’s about civil defense during the early stages of the cold war. Very interesting.

My father was the structural engineer who designed the Civil Defense Operations Center at Kelly Butte. Before it opened he took us to see it. I remember seeing the Diesel generators, the vaulted control room with the big map on the wall, the bunk rooms, the kitchen, the decontamination area. To a little kid, nuclear war looked like an exciting adventure.

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