Civil Defense, History

Mapping Wisconsin Shelters


I have been working on a history project that I hope will get some of my fellow Wisconsinites involved in. I started a page on Facebook that is geared towards the Wisconsin experience of the Cold War. There are publications and scholarly works done on the Cold War, but I would like to hear the first-hand stories from Wisconsin experience. The page is new, but I have big plans ask that people involved with the project.

One of the first projects I am trying to get in motion is mapping where fallout shelters were in Wisconsin using the Google My Maps app. This app allows you to customize maps by adding pins, descriptions, and pictures. Using the map feature, I began pinning the locations of fallout shelters I know of in the state. I made the map open to the public, so individuals can go on and share locations that they know of.

Fallout shelters are not the same as bomb shelters. Fallout shelters were intended to protect people from the deadly fallout radiation dispersed from a nuclear blast, not the blast itself.  Some people built private shelters to hold their family. Public shelters were in buildings where anyone could go in if the situation called for it. These shelters could be in banks, libraries, schools, office buildings, churches, etc, and were marked with a black and yellow sign , which designated that the building had a fallout shelter. The Federal Government stocked them with two weeks worth of supplies (Water, food, medical supplies, radiation monitors, etc) to support the designated capacity of people. These shelters were marked all over the United States.

Fallout Shelter Ad
(District Fallout Blog)

This is one of the many projects I am up to right now. I am working on something big related to fallout shelters…more on that later. I hope you will take some time to check out my Facebook page and get involved with the project. For some of my seasoned followers/readers, what do you remember about fallout shelters? Did you know someone who built a private shelter in the yard? Or maybe you remember seeing public fallout shelters stocked and ready to hold people? Comment with your experience.

15 thoughts on “Mapping Wisconsin Shelters”

  1. There was (is?) a fallout shelter under Whitefish Bay High School. As of 1994 it was still stocked too. There was a door from the shop-class room in the basement that went out onto a catwalk that was elevated above the huge stockpile of supplies. The shop class stored woodworking projects on the catwalk.

  2. I have been told the building we have our business in was a legal bomb shelter built during the Cold War. I haven’t researched it yet but am curious to know what the details of the building are. As far as we are aware the building was built by the government and original blue prints are apparently hard to come by. Feel free to contact me about our building.

  3. I see this article is from awhile ago. I grew up in Racine, WI. I’m pretty sure all three high schools and the downtown YMCA have fallout shelters (I know the Y and Horlick High do). I’ve recently moved and can’t believe I can’t find information on my nearest fallout shelter anywhere. Is there a more completed map?

    1. I haven’t added any in a while. Where do you live now. The county you reside in might still have records of old fallout shelters. Our local library had the original list.

  4. There are two fallout shelter signs in Edgerton. One is on the front of the Swift Street headquarters of IKI corporation, formerly the high school in Edgerton. The other is on High street, on the church hall of St. John’s Lutheran Church. Other than the signs, I know nothing.

  5. Downtown Appleton WI had several of them. And one that I know about is still marked with the sign.
    It is directly to the east of the Appleton Performing Arts Center in the basement a couple of floors down. You can see the sign clear as day when you enter the alley. I have seen the space and it is Huge.

    1. Is this the one located underneath the old Viking theater building on the corner of College Ave Division St. This is a massive facility 4+ stories down with 24 foot ceilings.

  6. As of May, 1977, there was a fully stocked fallout shelter under the piggly wiggly store on Wisconsin st and Gould in Racine. I believe it currently houses offices.

  7. I haven’t been able to find information on this anywhere, but under west high in green bay wisconsin there are a great deal of tunnels, I’ve been in them.

  8. Has this been updated? Where can I see this map? In light of all the chaos in the current world situation this here could be a very helpful tool!

    1. I’ll have to revisit this. In light of what is going on…the best place a person could be in the event of a nuclear exchange is directly under the fireball. You’ll be gone in the blink of an eye. You wouldn’t want to survive, it would be hell.

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