Sunday, September 27, 2015

Exploring Peanut Island

Boardwalk and covered picnic area

I had a business trip down to West Palm Beach this week, so Tina and I decided to have a little vacation at the same time.  One of the areas that I wanted to visit is called Peanut Island – a name that comes, not from it’s size, but from a peanut oil business that attempted to use this spot as a port and storage spot but a hurricane and a stock market crash kept them from finishing.Tina on the path

The island is right across the bay from the facility that I was working at – it was so close that I could almost throw a rock to the beach.  The path around the island is paved with brick pavers, and it’s pretty short.  With the cool breezes coming off the water, the temperature in the shade is very comfortable.  If you would like to see some photos of the hike, they are all at the end of this post…

Bunker entranceThe main reason I wanted to visit this island though is because it is home to a slice of American history that I hadn’t heard about until I started researching this area.  It is home to fallout shelter / bunker that was built for John F. Kennedy to use in the event of an attack while he was staying in his winter home.

When it was originally built, the bunker was buried under fifteen feet of soil, though much of that has eroded away over the past half a century.  The original plan by the secret service was to dig a tunnel from Peanut Island to Palm Beach Island that they could use to bring the president to safety.  For several reasons, this plan was abandoned and replaced with a plan for a simple helicopter ride from one spot to the other.

We entered the bunker from the main entrance and through a tunnel that leads first to an area to check for radioactive contamination and a shower to wash off any contaminated material.

 Entrance tunnel

After passing the shower, the room opens up to the main area of the bunker (that’s the tour guide in the photo)

Inside bunker

If brought here, it was expected that President Kennedy wouldn’t be here for more than a few days (though it was equipped for up to 30 days).  The first family would need a place to sleep.

Bunk beds

The the toilet facilities left a little to be desired

Water and toilet

President’s desk, radio desk, and president’s seal

Presidents desk-2Radio

Presidential seal-2

It’s a neat spot to visit.  I was surprised at how small the bunker is, but was only intended to be a short term emergency location for the first family.  If you’re in the area, give this spot a visit.  The island itself has some great areas for snorkeling, picnics, and calm water for swimming.  The walk around the island is really nice as well, and it even has a camp ground.  To get to the island, you will need to take a boat – we took Captain Joe’s Water Taxi ($10 round trip and free parking), but it would be easy to take a kayak or any other water craft.  Plan on bringing your own food and drink – other than a few snacks at the boat house, there are no places to get food on the island.

Other Bunker Photos
(Hover for a description – Click for full size)

Bunker information Geiger counters Contamination check room
More bunkers Sanitation suppliesMedicine cabinet Radiation detection kit
Presidents desk-3 Emergency exitDecontamination shower Presidential seal-1

Pictures from around the island

Andy on water taxi Capn Joe and his sea wench Arrival Dock
View from boardwalk Swimming lagoon Map and informationEgret in mangroves
Picnic area by lagoon Trigger fish maybe-2 Coral breakers-1
Picnic area under palms Boats near the island Along the beach
Maritime Museum-2 View from boathouse Peanut island from water taxi 1

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