CCSD sells 'toxic' Cold War bomb shelter and land near Las Vegas, Nevada for $1.9 million

CCSD sells ‘toxic’ Cold War bomb shelter and land near Las Vegas, Nevada for $1.9 million

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A new interview with historian Mark Hall-Patton

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Clark County School District (CCSD) Board of Trustees voted to sell what might be the last Cold War bomb shelter in the Las Vegas valley on Thursday. The 2.06-acre site sold at $1,910,081.25 to U.S. Express Carriers, based in Henderson. The School District had set the fair market value of the 2.06-acre property near Rainbow and Blue Diamond at $990,000.

The bunker was built in a remote corner of the Las Vegas valley in the 1950s and was intended to be the Clark County government’s headquarters in the case of an atomic emergency.

Three sealed bids opened at the CCSD Board of Trustees meeting, the offers ranging from just over $1 million to $1.55 million. Following the opening of the sealed bids, a short in-person bidding war between U.S. Express Carriers and Las Vegas Pavers ensued. Eventually, it raised the sale price to almost $2 million. 

Former Clark County Museums Administrator Mark Hall-Patton told 8 News Now Thursday the bomb shelter is rather toxic due to the lead-based paint and creosote used to preserve railroad ties in its construction in the 1950s. 

“The difficulty with that site is that it’s an extremely toxic site,” said Hall-Patton.

The site was built to the typical construction standards of the time. “They dug a big hole; they used railroad ties, soaked with creosote. Creosote is a wonderful material if you don’t want bugs eating your railroad ties, but they don’t eat your railroad ties because it’s highly toxic and carcinogenic. So, you can go down there, and you smell the creosote,” added the county historian. 

In addition, to the highly carcinogenic lead-based paint, the public can’t go inside because it does not allow access to all and does not meet today’s safety standards. 

“While it would be wonderful to be able to show and walk through it, it would be very difficult to make it safe for people to do it. To make it ADA accessible would be nearly impossible because it was not built to be ADA accessible,” he added. 

Patton-Hall says many of the original Cold War-era artifacts in the shelter were removed and preserved for Clark County museums in the late 1990s. Patton-Hall said the objects seen in the video tour he did in 2013 were most likely newer, from the National Guard and other emergency training sessions from the 1980s.

When asked if there were other bomb shelters similar to this one, he said there was one in Henderson built in the 1950s, but he was not sure if it still existed

The Arden bomb shelter sits on an industrial area of the valley, near Rainbow and Blue Diamond on the main Union-Pacific Railroad line. But back in the 1950s, there were only around 25,000 people that lived in the area. Arden was miles from Las Vegas across barren desert scrub. The small community of Arden’s main business was a cement plant. 

8 News Now is working to find what U.S. Express Carriers has planned for the site. 

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