Debbie Lord, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
January 31 2018 12:35 PM
A train carrying Republican lawmakers to a retreat in the mountains of West Virginia struck a truck Wednesday, killing at least one person and injuring several others, according to authorities.
The Amtrak train was carrying members of Congress, their wives and staff members to The Greenbrier resort in the Allegheny Mountains near White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, when it struck a garbage truck that was apparently on the track.
According to Capitol Police, there were no serious injuries to anyone on the train. The person killed was on the garbage truck, according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Republican members of Congress were on the chartered Amtrak train on their way to a retreat where Vice President Mike Pence was to speak Wednesday night and President Donald Trump was to appear on Thursday. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and several Cabinet members, plus 35 U.S. senators and 180 members of the House of Representatives, were to be at the three-day gathering.
The retreat at The Greenbrier, a resort that sits on some 11,000 acres, is an annual affair for GOP members of Congress. The resort has a storied history that includes stints as a hospital, a holding place for Axis diplomats during World War II, and the site for a secret bunker built to keep top members of the government safe in the event of a nuclear war.
Guests came to the area where The Greenbrier sits as early as 1778 to “take the waters.”
Retreats at the property began in the 1830s when politicians, lawyers, planters and others would gather. The retreats took place in the summer, according to The Greenbrier, because the mountains offered relief from the heat.
Five sitting presidents stayed there between 1830-1861.
By 1858, construction began on the first large hotel on the site. It was known as “The Old White.”
Both sides stayed on the grounds of the hotel during the Civil War.
The Greenbrier closed during the Civil War.
The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway purchased The Greenbrier in 1910, and by 1913 it has expanded the hotel to include mineral baths, a golf course and a new hotel.
The resort grows in popularity among the wealthy. Joe and Rose Kennedy honeymooned there and President and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson spent a holiday there.
The resort sees another major renovation in 1922.
In 1941, the U.S. State Department leased the hotel for seven months to relocate German, Japanese and Italian diplomats and their families from Washington, D.C., “until their exchange for U.S. diplomats similarly stranded overseas.” A year later, the U.S. Army purchased and converted the hotel into a 2,000-bed hospital known as Ashford General Hospital.
In 1946, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway reacquired the hotel from the U.S. government, renovated it and reopened the hotel in 1948.
In the 1950s, amid increasing alarm over a possible nuclear attack, the federal government asked The Greenbrier if it could build an “Emergency Relocation Center,” a bunker that would house the president and/or members of Congress in case of a nuclear attack. The Greenbrier owners agree and built an underground facility code-named “Project Greek Island.” The bunker remained classified and mostly unknown for 30 years. The bunker was decommissioned in 1992.
The Greenbrier was purchased in 2009 by Jim Justice. Justice, at the time, was an entrepreneur. He is now governor of West Virginia, who prior to his election in 2016, announced at a Trump rally in Huntington, West Virginia, that he was changing parties to become a Republican.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV - JULY 14: A resort employee passes by the Hotel Blast Door, which weighs 18 tons and serves as an entrance to a former government relocation facility, also know as "the bunker," at Greenbrier Resort July 14, 2006 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The bunker, codenamed "Project Greek Island" and planned by the Eisenhower Administration, was a 112,000 square-foot shelter constructed beneath the Greenbrier Resort's West Virginia Wing, to serve as a relocation site for members of the U.S. Congress and associated staff in the event of a nuclear attack on the U.S. soil. The facility was built between 1958 and 1961 and was maintained in a state of operational readiness until the government terminated the lease with the resort in 1995. The bunker will be reopened for public tours on August 20 after a two-year-long renovation. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV - JULY 5: A scenic view of "The Old White" at the Greenbrier during the first round of the Greenbrier Classic at the Old White TPC on July 5, 2012 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)