Tuesday, June 12, 1962: Underground school / fallout shelter

Abo Elementary School in Artesia, New Mexico, is dedicated. The school, built entirely underground, also functions as a fallout shelter. Classes would begin on August 28.

From the 2011 book "Artesia," by Nancy Dunn and Naomi Florez of the Artesia Historical Museum & Art Center:

Conceived at the height of the Cold War and the era of bomb-shelter construction, the school was built 18 feet underground and covered by a 21-inch thick, steel-reinforced concrete slab. Heavy steel doors said to be designed to hold up under a nuclear explosion were placed inside the aboveground entrances. The school's campus covered 10 acres, and the roof doubled as a playground. Besides having traditional school features, such as classrooms for 540 students, a cafeteria/multipurpose room, and modern restrooms, Abo School boasted an emergency entrance equipped with a shower to remove fallout particles, an air-conditioning system designed to filter out radioactivity, a generator to supply emergency power, and a morgue. Emergency rations were stored in the teachers' room. By 1989, the rations, outdated medical supplies, and body bags were discarded, and the morgue was used to store cafeteria supplies. Abo School was replaced by Yeso Elementary School in 1995. ... Because the school was underground, it was felt that students would be able to concentrate better on their lessons, as there were no windows to look out of, and the air-conditioning system was thought to help children with allergies and asthma.

* Excerpt from "Underground Buildings: More Than Meets the Eye" (book by Loretta Hall, 2004): @
* Excerpt from "Survival City: Adventures Among the Ruins of Atomic America" (book by Tom Vanderbilt, 2010): @
* Excerpt from "Fallout Shelter: Designing for Civil Defense in the Cold War" (book by David Monteyne, 2011): @
* "Incorporation of Shelter Into Schools" (Office of Civil Defense, November 1962): @
* "Civil Defense Shelter Options for Fallout and Blast Protection (Dual-Purpose)" (IIT Research Institute, May 1967): @
* "460 Atomic-Age Kids in Underground School" (Sarasota Journal, August 1962): @
* "Underground School is Fallout Shelter" (Popular Science, October 1962): @
* Earlier post on fallout shelters (September 1961): @
* Earlier post on fallout shelter sign (December 1, 1961): @


  1. I was a student during the time when school was actually held underground. It was an awesome experience and wished my children would have been able to go thought it as well. Yeso is a nice school but it was nothing like Abo.

  2. Thanks for your message -- and for finding the article in the first place. Sounds like it would have been a very interesting experience.

  3. I went there when I was 7-8 years old. Back in 1975! Was definitely a different experience.


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