Emergency Operating Center: Bank will make deposits in salt mine

Thursday, September 7, 1961

fter an atomic attack on Kansas City and Los Angeles, Hutchinson could become an underground hub of the federal reserve system and a movie capital.

A complete emergency operating center for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City is under construction in the Carey Salt Mine here, Johns Schul, president of Underground Vault and Storage Inc., announced Thursday.

Schul said also that a major Hollywood movie company plans to store copies of its films in the mine.

Workers are constructing 1,000 feet of office space which would house the Kansas City bank under Hutchinson in the event of a major disaster that would destroy the Kansas City facility. The emergency operating center in the mine 630 feet underground could keep the reserve bank in operation following a nuclear attack.

The center will be complete with desks, business machines and a private bank vault to hold copies of records from the Kansas City bank and its branches in Denver, Omaha and Oklahoma City, covering a seven-state area.

The office will be used by the system's emergency reconstruction crew only in time of disaster. No federal reserve personnel are expected to be stationed there, said Schul. Apparently, they would come here during drills simulating disaster operations.

At other times employees of Underground Vault and Storage will operate the office which will be near the company's headquarters room in the 25-room security system. Schul said the security system involves guards aboveground 24 hours a day, bank type lock gates and armed operators underground.

Local manager Robert Nachtigal said a crew has been working for a week on the project and that completion may be within two weeks. After the office is completed records are expected to start pouring in from the Federal Reserve banks to be stored in a huge vault.

This new facility will replace an above ground secondary bank location at Topeka which will be abandoned, said Schul.

Another major underground plan announced. Thursday was tentative agreement by a major movie firm to store thousands of reels of film in the mine.

Schul said the firm wished to remain anonymous at present but that the agreement had been made at least verbally.

The program involves storage of fine grain positive prints, copies of original films produced since the beginning of the firm. The originals will remain in California.

The copies would be stored for safety, to insure that the films would still be available in case of destruction of the originals in California. The copies stored here would never be used except in case of destruction of original prints.

Schul said reasons for storage here, the first such storage plan by this company, include insurance against loss of originals by fire or explosion and the threat of nuclear blast.

The film company has been corresponding with Underground Vault and Storage and Reno County officials on the project for several weeks. Since the original films are assessed at a high value in California, Company officials were apprehensive about the assessment of copies in Reno County. The county commission and county clerk finally settled on 90 cents a reel and a letter recently received by the company's attorney's said the assessment was "sound and reasonable."

If the deal is completed the company plans to have 13,200 reels stored here by the first of the year and 48,000 by Jan. 1, 1963. After that copies will be stored as movies are produced.

The films will produce $360 a year for Reno County based on 30 percent assessment on a real valuation of $24,000. The Clay Township levy is about $50 on $1,000.

No word was given on how soon film would start arriving if the deal is closed.