A Wisconsin family unearthed a Cold War-era underground bunker built by the previous homeowner in their backyard, and unexpectedly found a 1960s time capsule containing vintage supplies in perfect condition.
In 1999, Ken Zwick and Carol Hollar-Zwick moved to their new home in the quiet neighborhood of Neenah, Wisconsin. The Zwick family had been informed by the real estate agent that there was an underground fallout shelter in their backyard; however, they didn’t bother to explore it until 11 years later.
According to Journal Sentinel, one day in 2010, when Ken was pruning shrubbery next to the metal hatch of the Cold War-era bunker, he reckoned it was time to take a look inside.
The family removed the bushes that had grown over the steel door and unlocked the chain before climbing down the rusty old ladder leading to an 8-foot-by-10-foot concrete chamber.
“We assumed it was just this empty space,” Carol told USA Today.
Amazingly, the underground bunker turned out to be more than just an empty room. There were rusted military ammunition crates floating in 5 feet of water, which had seeped into the shelter over the decades.
“We opened them and everyone gasped. Everything was so dry,” said Carol.
A box contained clothing that had begun to rot and smell badly. Whereas, the other supplies, such as the Carnation powdered milk, Hills Bros. coffee, Sunsweet apricots, Kellogg’s Cornflakes, Flavor Kist saltines and chocolate chip cookies—all enclosed in airtight metal boxes—were still in remarkably good shape.
The boxes contained everything one would need to survive a possible Soviet nuclear attack back in the 60s—a least for a couple of weeks. The underground hideout had been built by the previous owner, Frank Pansch, a local surgeon, during the “fallout shelter craze” in the late 50s and early 60s.
“It was food, clothing, medical supplies, tools, flashlights, batteries—items that you would want to have in a shelter if you planned to live there for two weeks,” said Carol.
The family notified The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a few boxes had markings that suggested there might be explosives inside.
The investigators responded and, inside the suspicious crates, they found… Hawaiian punch.
“I think it’s interesting to have a piece of history in your own backyard,” Carol told FOX 11. “It does take you back to this, to a time when people were really thinking about protecting themselves from nuclear war.”
The family donated the Cold War treasure trove to the Neenah Historical Society, for them to put together an exhibition showcasing the fears that gripped the United States more than 50 years ago.