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Church building archive depository

Title: Church building archive depository
Date: Tuesday, 30 September 1986
Publisher: Las Vegas Daily Optic
Author: Helen Muller
Main source:

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A 300-foot horizontal tunnel is being drilled into a mountain east of Las Vegas to house church documents. The Los Angeles-based Church of Spiritual Technology, which is affiliated with the Church of Scientology, has been working on the project for two years.

On a remote, 3,600 acre ranch near Trementina, 14-17 men are preparing the site for a tunneling machine, said CST ranch manager Russ Bellin. Although about a dozen of the workers have been hired locally, the construction is under the direction of a Denver contractor.

Bellin said the Church of Spiritual Technology was founded in 1982 and acquired a year later. "We were looking for a place that is remote, pollution free, some distances from any nuclear targets, and with a dry climate," he said. "We researched a number of places before we found this one."

Goals of the CST include "construction and maintenance of an imperishable structure, capable of withstanding the ravages of nuclear warfare to house the essence of Scientology for the benefit of future generations," state its bylaws.

The Church of Scientology claims six million members and 600 churches in more than 30 countries.

The tunnel will be approximately 14 feet high by 10 feet wide, said Bellin. "In the tunneling business, this is considered a small project." The sandstone tunnel, which is halfway up a mountain, will be ventilated and lined with concrete. "This should keep the documents (mostly paper) at a constant 63 degrees with low humidity — perfect for the preservation of paper," he noted.

Bellin said the project is patterned after a huge vault tunnelled in granite in Utah by the Mormons to preserve the church's geneology lists and microfilm. "This will not be open as a working library," he added, "nor will it be sealed." Periodically we will add documents to the collection.

He praised their neighbors in the area for letting the project continue with privacy, yet helping when needed. "We've had a lot of trouble with our roads this summer because of all the rain. The other day, one of our trucks got stuck in a muddy arroyo and some neighbors helped pull it out."

Most of their supplies have been purchased in Las Vegas, such as fuel for their generator, groceries, and construction supplies, he said.

The church currently has no plans for further development of the property. When the construction is finished, two people will live at the ranch to take care of it. "There are no plans to build a church on the property," said Bellin.

The office of Secretary of State of California said the Church of Spiritual Technology was registered as a non-profit corporation in May 1982, and continues to be in good standing.

An Environmental Improvement Division onsite visit in May found little that EID would appropriately deal with, said environmentalist Anita Roy. "There seemed to be no water course contamination, and there were no hazardous materials on the site," she said.

Work on the site began in Feruary 1985. Although it was discontinued during the winter, it recommenced this spring. Workers have been living in tents on the ranch. As the cold weather approaches, several small trailers have been added. "Building roads has consumed a lot of our efforts," said Bellin.

Because of the heavy equipment being used, air emergency evacuation arrangements have been made with the University of New Mexico hospital in Albuquerque, which can be reached in 35 minutes. Four pigs roam freely to discourage rattlesnakes. "We have seen at least 50 rattlers this year," said Bellin, "but with the cooler weather, they have not been as prevalent."