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Aboveground Home Fallout Shelter Tour
Zilker Park Fallout Shelter Austin, Texas
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Zilker Park Fallout Shelter, Austin, Texas
In February of 2002 Ben Abzug of Austin Texas sent me a set of photos and some information on the
old fallout shelter at Zilker Park in Austin. In September of 2014 I was going through my archived
emails and, to my embarassment, found his email and realized that I had forgotten all about for 12
years. Sorry Ben! Well 12 years later here are the photos he sent of the Zilker Park shelter.
In 1960 an Austin TV station shot a civil defense film featured at the Texas Archive of The
Moving Image web site. There are several scenes of a family in a fallout shelter throughout the film.
I believe these scenes were shot in the Zilker Park shelter.
Here is the link to the film on the TAMI site
There is a note in the TAMI Tags section next to the video about the Zilker Park shelter as well.
In one scene the family is shown eating at the fold-down table shown in the 2002 shelter interior photo below.
As of this 2014 writing I have no idea what condition the Ziker Park shelter is in or if it is even still there.
Below are some answers Ben sent me in an e-mail to a series of questions I had asked him. I don't remember the
questions but from the answers it's easy to guess what they were.
My comments below are in italics - Eric Green.
February 10, 2002
1. Zilker park is the main public park in Austin. If you come down anybody can tell you where it is.
2. The shelter was used to demonstrate how people could build shelters in their back yard and
how to stock them. The groundskeeper gave tours a couple times a month up until the mid-sixties.
It was paid for by public money.
3. Not to big. It follows a standard CD plan. Check the included photos.
4. No, it's not open. But I called the groundskeeper and he had no problem letting me take a look.
5. Yes, There was a CD information packet that used to store pamphlets. You were supposed to take
the packet home. There was also a little display explaining how the shelter was built. Also a lot
of rat eaten pamphlets in the corner. No I didn't take them : (Believe me I thought about it. But I
figured it wasn't mine even if nobody wanted it. And I thought it would be best to leave it be
for the next person to see so they could get the same excitement of finding them. I was absolutely
amazed at that everything was considering that it had been abandoned for so long.
6. It's well worth the trip... If you need further directions just drop me a line. This was a
great thrill as this was my first purpose built fallout shelter to visit. I have a strange affinity
for forgotten and disused places and this fit the bill nicely!
Ben didn't provide comments on every photo but the photos are pretty self explanatory. It does appear that there
was some water in the shelter at the time he took the photos. Ben did comment on the first image directly below.
Almost forgot... Here a scan of the pamphlet that was handed out at the door.
I found a copy of this at the library. I love the part about how the color scheme was to put
your mind at ease. Enjoy. -Ben
In case the text in the image above isn't readable I've taken the time to type it out...
This prototype Family Fallout Shelter was built with federal funds by the City Of Austin and
the Southwestern Headquarters of The Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization. The contractor was
Maufrais Brothers of Austin. An underground fallout shelter of this size can be built for less
than $2,000 under normal conditions.
Purpose of the shelter is for public education, research and demonstration--to show how a typical
American family can protect itself from the dangers of radioactive fallout.
Capacity is a maximum of six persons for two or more weeks. An adequate amount of water, groceries
and other supplies is included to suffice for that period of time. The shelter is constructed of
eight-inch reinforced concrete. The hallway-entrance is separated from the living area by a 90-degree
turn to stop radiation which travels in a straight line. A heavy metal locking door protects the
stairway entrance. Filtered intake and exhaust vents provide fresh air protection against radioactive,
bacteriological and chemical elements. Other features include sanitary facilities and a transister radio.
The color scheme for the interior and furnishing was planned with a definite purpose in mind--
to lend an air of harmony and yet give a feeling of cheefulness. The pale gold walls and vinyl
flooring are accented by use of pumpkin, olive green and Tiber gold in the other furnishing. The
custom-built furniture includes a storage wall for keeping food and supplies, a fold-down table,
upper fold-down bed, a bolster-back single bed and two dining chairs.
THE FAMILY FALLOUT SHELTER IN USE
(Cutaway Veiw Shelter Drawing, See Above)
CIVIL DEFENSE PREPAREDNESS
Your family shelter and equip with two-week supply of food and water, first aid kit, battery radio.
Evacuation kit for you automobile with food, water, first aid kit, battery or car radio, blankets.
1. Warning signals and what they mean.
2. Your community plan for emergency action.
3. Protection from radioactive fallout.
4. First aid and home emergency preparedness.
5. Use of CONELRAD--640 or 1240 for official directions.
Above Left Photo shows view down entry stairs. Entry hallway leads straight below from the
bottom of the stairs. Shelter area is below ground to the left.
Above Right Photo shows one of the air vent pipe filters.
Above Left Photo shows entry hallway. The turn to the left at the end of the hall leads to the shelter area.
Above Right Photo was taken looking back toward entry stairs from end of entry hallway next to turn into shelter area (see below).
The pumpkin, olive green and Tiber gold colors (mentioned above in the pamphlet) have held up
remarkably well over 30+ years of neglect.
Orignal classic hand crank air blower. Ben didn't mention if he tried it to see if it still worked.
Original Austin Texas civil defense information packed still stapled to the wall after all