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Narrator: A COLD WAR RELIC RUSTING AWAY AT SEA...

IT'S AN ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN.

Narrator: ...A REMOTE AMERICAN RESEARCH LAB WITH A DARK PAST.

ASTRONAUTS ARE GUINEA PIGS.

THEY'RE TRYING TO UNDERSTAND HOW THE HUMAN BODY IS AFFECTED.

Narrator: ...AND A GROUNDBREAKING NAZI PROJECT WITH A SINISTER END.

IT WAS ALL ABOUT NATIONAL PRIDE.

WE'RE GOING TO TAKE THE VEHICLES AND MAKE US LEADERS

OF THE ENTIRE KNOWN WORLD.

Narrator: ONCE, THEY WERE SOME OF THE MOST ADVANCED STRUCTURES

AND FACILITIES ON THE PLANET,

AT THE CUTTING EDGE OF DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION.

TODAY, THEY STAND ABANDONED, CONTAMINATED,

AND SOMETIMES DEADLY.

BUT WHO BUILT THEM? AND HOW?

AND WHY WERE THEY ABANDONED?

-- Captions by VITAC -- www.vitac.com

CAPTIONS PAID FOR BY DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS

HIDDEN IN EASTERN EUROPE,

IN THE HEART OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC,

OBSCURED BY DENSE FORESTS,

IS ONE OF THE GREATEST SECRETS

FROM THE SECOND WORLD WAR.

PARTIALLY SUBMERGED UNDER THE SVIHOV RESERVOIR

IS ONE OF THE MOST ADVANCED TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS

EVER UNDERTAKEN DURING THIS WAR-TORN PERIOD.

IT'S 330 FEET HIGH, 72 FEET WIDE

AND IS MADE OF REINFORCED CONCRETE.

IF YOU COULD TAKE AWAY THE MILLIONS

OF GALLONS OF WATER BENEATH IT,

THE WHOLE STRUCTURE BECOMES CLEAR,

BUT AS IT IS NOW, YOU CAN'T SEE ANY OF THAT.

IT'S A HIDDEN GEM.

Narrator: BUT WHY WAS THIS MYSTERIOUS BRIDGE BUILT?

AND WHY WAS IT ABANDONED?

IN 1939, HITLER'S ENGINEERS ARE WORKING TO DEVELOP

A VAST NEW ROAD SYSTEM

TO UNITE EVERY CORNER OF THE SO-CALLED THIRD REICH,

WHICH INCLUDES THE ENTIRE COUNTRY OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA.

AND ITS NEW FREEWAYS, KNOWN AS AUTOBAHNS,

REFLECT THE NEW OPTIMISM OF THE COUNTRY.

BUT IN ORDER TO CARRY PEOPLE AND GOODS FROM RURAL AREAS

OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA TO ITS CAPITAL CITY, PRAGUE,

AND ON TO BERLIN,

ENGINEERS BEGIN CONSTRUCTING THIS,

THE BOROVSKO BRIDGE,

ALSO KNOWN AS HITLER'S BRIDGE.

THE BRIDGE, OF COURSE, WAS KNOWN AS HITLER'S BRIDGE.

IT WAS TO FORM A VITAL PART OF WHAT WAS GOING TO BE

THE CENTRAL EUROPEAN HIGHWAY,

AND THIS IS REALLY HIS VISION,

NOT JUST OF MELDING TOGETHER

THE DISPARATE PARTS OF THE EMPIRE HE'S CREATING,

BUT ALSO HIS MILITARY USE

AND THE SPEED WITH WHICH TROOPS CAN ACTUALLY MOVE DOWN THIS ROAD

TO WHICHEVER PART OF THE REICH IS THREATENED.

Gough: THERE WAS UNDOUBTEDLY MORE TO HITLER'S AUTOBAHN

THEN JUST GETTING FORM A TO B.

IT WAS ALL ABOUT NATIONAL PRIDE.

IT WAS ALL ABOUT, "WOW, LOOK AT THIS AUDACIOUS AUTOBAHN

THAT WE'RE GOING TO TAKE THE VEHICLES

THAT ARE GOING TO COMMUNICATE WITH THE REICH

AND MAKE US LEADERS OF THE ENTIRE KNOWN WORLD."

IT WAS ALL ABOUT DOMINATING.

THAT'S WHAT HITLER'S AUTOBAHNS WERE.

Narrator: AND ITS DIMENSIONS ARE SIMPLY MIND-BLOWING.

THE BRIDGE SPANS ACROSS THE SVIHOV VALLEY

NEAR THE VILLAGE OF BOROVSKO.

IT RISES TO 330 FEET IN HEIGHT WITH A SINGLE ARCH

SPANNING THE STREAM BELOW.

WORKERS LABOR CONSTANTLY FOR WHAT'S HAILED

AS THE FUTURE OF ENGINEERING.

BUT THEN THE ENGINEERS FACE A PROBLEM.

TO MAINTAIN THE SPEED OF THE AUTOBAHNS,

THE NEW BRIDGE MUST BE BUILT WITH A TILTED SURFACE.

NOT ONLY THAT, BUT GERMANY DEMANDS THAT THIS NEW MOTORWAY

AND ITS BRIDGES BE FINISHED BY 1943.

DESPITE SHORTAGES OF LABOR, EQUIPMENT AND EVEN CEMENT,

THE ENGINEERS AT BOROVSKO USE

THE LATEST TECHNIQUES FOR THEIR BRIDGE.

IF YOU DO STRIP AWAY ALL THE SURROUNDINGS,

AND YOU CAN SEE THE STRUCTURE OF THE BRIDGE,

IT'S A REINFORCED CONCRETE-ARCH BRIDGE,

WHICH IS A VERY COMMON TYPE OF BRIDGE,

BUT YET THIS WAS BEING BUILT IN THE 1930S.

ESPECIALLY REINFORCED CONCRETE WAS NOT A COMMON USED MATERIAL

FOR THAT KIND OF STRUCTURE AT THIS TIME,

SO IT JUST GOES TO SHOW HOW FORWARD-THINKING

AND HOW ADVANCED CZECHOSLOVAKIA WAS

IN THEIR INFRASTRUCTURE TECHNOLOGY.

Narrator: BUT IN JULY 1941, HITLER LAUNCHES

AN UNEXPECTED INVASION OF THE SOVIET UNION,

AND MOST PUBLIC WORKS ARE CANCELED ACROSS CZECHOSLOVAKIA.

THOUSANDS OF TONS OF CONCRETE

THAT WERE ORIGINALLY PLANNED FOR ROAD

AND BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION ARE DIVERTED TO THE WAR EFFORT

TO CREATE VAST DEFENSIVE SYSTEMS.

BUT BECAUSE THE BOROVSKO BRIDGE IS SO IMPORTANT,

THE WORK HERE CONTINUES.

HERE, WE'RE USING A NEW MATERIAL IN A WAY

THAT HAS REAL STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY,

IN AN ARCH BRIDGE,

MAKING INTRICATE SHAPES, INTRICATE FORMS.

THAT WAS GROUNDBREAKING.

THAT WAS PUSHING TECHNOLOGY TO THE BOUNDARIES AT THE TIME.

Narrator: BUT THEN HISTORY PLAYS ITS HAND.

IN MAY 1942, THE HATED NAZI OVERLORD IN CHARGE

OF MUCH OF OCCUPIED CZECHOSLOVAKIA,

THE SO-CALLED BLOND BEAST,

REINHARD HEYDRICH,

IS ASSASSINATED BY MEMBERS OF THE CZECH RESISTANCE.

Gough: THE ASSASSINATION OF REINHARD HEYDRICH,

MEMBER OF HITLER'S INNER CIRCLE,

SENT A SHOCKWAVE INTO THE REICH

THAT THEY WERE NOT INVINCIBLE.

IN FACT, THEY WERE VULNERABLE.

Narrator: ALL WORK ON THE BOROVSKO BRIDGE GRINDS TO A HALT.

DESPITE THIS TEMPORARY SETBACK, WHY IS THIS

ENGINEERING MARVEL FLOODED?

AND WHY WAS IT ABANDONED?

Narrator: AS PART OF NAZI GERMANY,

THE BOROVSKO BRIDGE IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA

FORMS A CRITICAL JUNCTION

FOR THE THIRD REICH'S VISION

OF A VAST NETWORK OF AUTOBAHNS,

WITH AIMS TO CONNECT THE FOUR CORNERS OF NAZI EUROPE.

DURING WORLD WAR II, CONSTRUCTION OF THE BRIDGE

COMES TO A HALT,

AND AFTER THE WAR,

CZECHOSLOVAKIA FALLS UNDER COMMUNIST RULE.

THOUGH THE NEW LEADERSHIP COMPLETES THE CONSTRUCTION

IN 1950, THE BRIDGE IS ULTIMATELY SCRAPPED.

SO WHY WAS THE BRIDGE FLOODED?

WITH THE NEARBY CAPITAL OF PRAGUE GROWING EXPONENTIALLY,

CZECH AUTHORITIES TRANSFORM THE SEDLIACKY RIVER

INTO A WATER RESERVOIR IN 1976,

NEARLY SUBMERGING THE BOROVSKO BRIDGE IN ITS ENTIRETY.

TODAY, HITLER'S BRIDGE LIES NEGLECTED AND ABANDONED.

HITLER'S ABANDONED BRIDGE IS A POETIC, SYMBOLIC TESTAMENT

TO THE TECHNOLOGY OF THE NAZIS.

YOU HAVE THIS LIVING, BREATHING EXAMPLE

OF NAZI ARCHITECTURE, IN FACT, NAZI AMBITION.

IT NEEDS TO REMAIN AS A REMINDER AND AS AN EXAMPLE

OF WHAT MISGUIDED PEOPLE ARE CAPABLE OF GETTING UP TO.

Narrator: 650 MILES WEST,

IN THE SOUTHERN ENGLISH PORT OF ROCHESTER,

LIES A MYSTERIOUS SUBMARINE.

IT'S 280 FEET LONG, 20 FEET WIDE

AND WEIGHS NEARLY 2,000 TONS.

POWERED BY DIESEL ELECTRIC ENGINES

AND CAPABLE OF FIRING 22 TORPEDOES,

THIS RUSTING HULK WAS

DESIGNED TO START WORLD WAR III.

THEY LOOKED INTIMIDATING.

THE SHEER NUMBERS THEY WERE CHURNING OUT...

WOW.

Lambert: THESE GUYS ARE FORWARD-LOOKING.

THEY'RE ADVENTUROUS, AMBITIOUS, AND THE PROJECTS

THAT THEY END UP COMMISSIONING,

ONCE THEY'VE MADE SURE THE TECHNOLOGY WORKS,

ARE REALLY IMPRESSIVE.

Narrator: BUT HOW DID THIS UNDERWATER WARRIOR

END UP OFF THE COAST OF ENGLAND?

AND WHY WAS IT ABANDONED?

IN THE 1950S, COLD WAR TENSIONS BETWEEN THE SOVIET UNION

AND THE WESTERN POWERS ARE BREWING.

THOUGH BOTH SIDES ARE STOCKPILING NUCLEAR WEAPONRY

FOR ALL EYES TO SEE, MUCH OF THE STANDOFF

IS HAPPENING BELOW THE SURFACE, LITERALLY.

Lambert: WHEN WE TALK ABOUT THE COLD WAR,

WE OFTEN IMAGINE EVERYBODY

SITTING STILL IN A FUR COAT.

IN FACT, A VERY LARGE AMOUNT IS HAPPENING.

WE KNOW THERE'S A COVERT WAR IN THE AIR.

WE KNOW THE AMERICANS ARE SPYING OVER RUSSIA.

BUT EVERYBODY IS USING SUBMARINES

TO CREEP INTO EACH OTHER'S BACKYARDS

AND DO A BIT OF INTERCEPT AND SPYING.

THE BRITISH AND THE AMERICANS ARE SPYING ON THE RUSSIANS.

THE RUSSIANS ARE TRYING TO PICK THEM UP AND STOP THEM SPYING.

Narrator: AND TAKING THE NEXT STEP IN ESPIONAGE,

THE SOVIET UNION CONSTRUCTS THIS,

THE FOXTROT-CLASS SUBMARINE,

CODE NAME B-39 U-475,

ALSO KNOWN AS THE BLACK WIDOW.

IT FORMS AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE MOST POWERFUL

STRIKING ARM OF THE SOVIET FLEET.

Lambert: THE SUBMARINE IS, IN MANY WAYS, THE ICONIC WARSHIP

OF THE COLD WAR BECAUSE IT'S THE MOST ACTIVE.

IT'S THE ONE YOU CAN USE WITHOUT LEAVING A VISIBLE TRACE.

Narrator: ALSO INVISIBLE TO THE ALLIED FORCES,

THE FOXTROT SUBMARINES

ARE CARRYING TORPEDOES ARMED WITH NUCLEAR WARHEADS.

TO POWER THESE TERRIFYING VESSELS,

THE SOVIETS RELY ON TESTED TECHNOLOGY.

WHILE THE US AND BRITISH NAVIES USE ALL NUCLEAR-POWERED

SUBMARINE FORCES,

THE USSR USED TRADITIONAL DIESEL ELECTRIC BOATS.

Bell: THE SOVIETS APPROACH TO THEIR SUBMARINE WARFARE

WAS VERY MUCH A CASE OF,

"IF IT AIN'T BROKE, DON'T FIX IT."

THE SOVIET KEPT THEIR DIESEL POWER BECAUSE IT DID THE JOB.

THEY GOT TO WHERE THEY NEEDED TO BE,

ALBEIT NOT AT THE GREATEST LEVEL OF COMFORT AT ALL.

YOU'D BE SO CRAMPED DOWN INSIDE THESE MACHINES

WITH THESE THREE GREAT BIG LOCOMOTIVE DIESEL ENGINES

GOING OFF 24/7, ALL THE TIME.

THE NOISE AND THE SMELLS MUST HAVE JUST BEEN AWFUL DOWN THERE.

Gough: MANY HAVE WONDERED WHY THE USSR KEPT BUILDING

THIS OUTDATED TECHNOLOGY RIGHT UP UNTIL THE 1980S,

THIS FOXTROT CLASS OF SUBS.

YOU KNOW, SURELY THERE'S NEW TECHNOLOGY

THEY COULD BRING TO BEAR.

THERE IS, BUT THEY HAVE A MANUFACTURING LINE

THAT'S JUST CHURNING OUT QUANTITY OVER QUALITY,

AND THAT'S WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT.

THEY'RE USING WHAT THEY KNOW BECAUSE IT'S ALL ABOUT NUMBERS.

SURE, THEY CAN INNOVATE, BUT WHY WOULD YOU CHANGE

WHEN YOU'VE GOT A GOOD THING GOING?

Narrator: BUT THERE'S A PROBLEM WITH THIS TECHNOLOGICAL APPROACH.

CONVENTIONAL DIESEL-POWERED SUBMARINES

LIKE THIS ONE TYPICALLY CAN'T STAY UNDERWATER

FOR MUCH LONGER THAN A FEW DAYS.

Gough: THEY WERE SO CLAUSTROPHOBIC.

YOU HAD ONE BATHROOM, TWO SHOWERS, 74 MEN.

YOU CAN IMAGINE, AFTER A FEW DAYS,

HOW DISGUSTING THAT IS.

I MEAN, IT'S A MIRACLE THEY CAN MAKE THESE LONG JOURNEYS

ACROSS THE ATLANTIC AT ALL.

IT MYSTIFIES ME.

Narrator: WILL THE SOVIET STRATEGY OF LOW-TECH PROPULSION

AND HIGH-TECH FIREPOWER WORK?

AND WHY WAS THIS COLD WAR RELIC ABANDONED?

Narrator: DISUSED AND ABANDONED IN THE WATERS

OF ROCHESTER IN KENT IN ENGLAND

LIES A RUSSIAN U-CLASS SUBMARINE KNOWN AS THE BLACK WIDOW.

AS THE FOIL TO WESTERN SUBMARINE ESPIONAGE,

THE NUCLEAR BLACK WIDOW FORMS

A MAJOR PART OF THE SOVIET FLEET.

IT CARRIES UP TO 22 TORPEDOES,

TWO OF WHICH ARE ARMED WITH NUCLEAR WARHEADS.

THE SOVIETS GIVE THIS FLEET OF SUBMARINES ONE AIM:

TO SERVE ON THE FRONT LINES OF WORLD WAR III.

BUT THIS TERRIFYING AMBITION

COMES AT A COST FOR THE CREW.

Bell: BEING ON BOARD A SOVIET SUBMARINE AT THAT TIME

WAS NOT A PLEASANT EXPERIENCE.

AND I SAY "ON BOARD."

WHEN YOU SAY "ON BOARD," YOU KIND OF THINK,

"OH, ON BOARD A SHIP,

AND THERE'S SPACE AROUND YOU AND EVERYTHING."

A SUBMARINE IS NOT LIKE THAT. IT'S VERY DIFFERENT.

YOU ARE INSIDE THE MACHINE.

IT'S NOT LIKE THERE ARE MECHANICAL QUARTERS

AND THE LIVING QUARTERS.

IT'S ALL ONE THING.

AND YOU'RE DOWN THERE WITH A CREW,

74 CREWMEN YOU MIGHT HAVE ON THESE SOVIET SUBS,

WITH CONSTANT NOISE, A LACK OF FRESH AIR,

VERY LIMITED AMOUNTS OF FRESH AND CLEAN WATER.

JUST HOW CRAMPED YOU WOULD BE.

Bell: YOUR PERSONAL SPACE WOULDN'T BE VERY MUCH

MORE THAN THE IMMEDIATE SPACE AROUND YOU.

IT'S NO WONDER THAT AFTER A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF TIME,

THAT WOULD START TO GET TO YOU,

AND YOU MIGHT START TO JUST LOSE YOUR MIND A LITTLE BIT.

YOUR JUDGMENT MIGHT NOT BE AS CLEAR,

AND YOU'D BE EXTREMELY STRESSED.

THESE WERE THE CONDITIONS THAT THOSE SOVIET CREWMEN

WERE IN FOR WEEKS ON END,

BEING SUBMERGED FOR 2 DAYS AT A TIME.

BUT EVEN WHEN THEY DID COME UP

TO GET THEIR BATTERIES RECHARGED,

IT'S NOT LIKE YOU COULD COME UP FOR FRESH AIR

AND BE OUT ON DECK.

YOU'RE STILL STUCK INSIDE THIS MACHINE.

Narrator: THIS WEAKNESS PLAYS A CRUCIAL ROLE IN 1962

WHEN FOUR OF THESE SOVIET SUBMARINES

CONFRONT THE US NAVY DURING THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS.

DURING THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS, THE SOVIET SUBMARINES

THAT ARE IN THE CARIBBEAN ARE FOXTROT-CLASS BOATS.

THE AMERICANS DO NOT PICK UP

ALL OF THE FOXTROTS THAT ARE OUT IN THE ATLANTIC.

THEY PICK UP TWO AND FORCED THEM TO SURFACE BY BASICALLY

SITTING OVER THE TOP OF THEM

UNTIL THEY'D RUN OUT OF BREATHABLE AIR.

BUT THE OTHER TWO MANAGED TO SNEAK THROUGH.

Narrator: BUT UNKNOWN TO THE US FORCES, THE REMAINING TWO FOXTROTS

ARE CARRYING TORPEDOES ARMED WITH NUCLEAR WARHEADS.

PEOPLE DON'T REALIZE JUST HOW CLOSE WE CAME TO WORLD WAR III

DURING THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS.

THE US WAS DROPPING DEPTH CHARGES,

TESTING OUT THEIR CAPABILITY ONTO RUSSIAN SUBS DOWN BELOW.

NOW, THESE RUSSIAN SUBS HAD BEEN IN THE WATER FOR A LONG TIME.

ONE OF THEM IN PARTICULAR WAS CAPTAINED BY A CHAP WHO...

HE WAS WAS JUST STARTING TO LOSE IT.

HE'S BEEN DOWN UNDER THE OCEAN FOR WAY TOO LONG.

HE THINKS WORLD WAR III MUST HAVE STARTED,

SO HE GOES TO PRESS THE BUTTON

TO SEND A NUCLEAR WARHEAD TO THE U.S. NAVAL SHIPS.

AND HIS COLLEAGUE SAYS, "NO, HANG ON, YOU CAN'T DO THAT.

YOU CAN'T DO THAT. STOP."

SO IF THERE EVER WAS AN UNSUNG HERO,

IT WOULD HAVE TO BE THAT GUY

WHO STOPPED HIS COMMANDER FROM STARTING WORLD WAR III.

Narrator: THESE TWO SUBMARINES EVADE AMERICAN CAPTURE

AND MAKE IT TO CUBA.

AND FOR NEARLY 30 MORE YEARS, FOXTROT SUBMARINES

CONTINUE STALKING INTERNATIONAL WATERS

TO SPY ON WESTERN COUNTRIES.

BUT WITH THE COLLAPSE OF THE SOVIET UNION IN 1989,

HUNDREDS OF UNWANTED WARSHIPS

BEGIN CLOGGING THE SHIPBREAKING YARDS

ACROSS THE WORLD,

CREATING A DIFFERENT KIND OF CATASTROPHE.

AND EVENTUALLY MOORED IN RIGA, LATVIA,

THE BLACK WIDOW LIES AMONG THEM.

THESE HAVE TO BE DISPOSED OF PROPERLY,

IN A VERY THOUGHTFUL WAY.

OTHERWISE, IT'S AN ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN.

YES, IT MIGHT COST MORE THAN JUST TAKING IT TO A SCRAP HEAP

AND CHOPPING IT UP AND BEING DONE WITH IT,

BUT, OTHERWISE, THE COST TO THE ENVIRONMENT

AND TO THE EARTH, WHO KNOWS WHERE THAT COULD GO?

Narrator: SO WHY IS THE SOVIET BLACK WIDOW U-BOAT IN ROCHESTER, ENGLAND?

AND WHY WAS IT FINALLY ABANDONED?

Narrator: THE SOVIET NAVY'S B-39 U-475 SUBMARINE,

ALSO KNOWN AS THE BLACK WIDOW,

SERVED AS A FRONT-LINE MARINE DETERRENT,

ARMED WITH NUCLEAR TORPEDOES.

BUT WITH THE COLLAPSE OF THE SOVIET UNION IN 1989,

THIS DECAYING NUCLEAR SUBMARINE POSES

A HUGE ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEM

DUE TO ITS RADIOACTIVE CONTAMINATION.

SIMPLY LEAVING THE BLACK WIDOW TO ROT,

UNMAINTAINED IN RIGA, LATVIA, IS NOT AN OPTION.

YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT THE RUSSIAN SUBMARINE

IS ONE OF THE MORE DANGEROUS INSTRUMENTS OF THE COLD WAR.

THE FIRST RUSSIAN NUCLEAR SUBMARINE

KILLED MOST OF ITS OWN CREW

AND, OF COURSE, FAMOUSLY KILLED ALL OF ITS CREW.

THE RUSSIANS WERE ABLE TO BUILD AND OPERATE THESE VESSELS,

BUT THEIR SAFETY STANDARDS WERE NOT ALWAYS AS HIGH

AS THEY MIGHT HAVE BEEN,

AND THE SOVIETS AND, LATER,

THE RUSSIANS WERE QUITE HAPPY TO COVER THESE THINGS UP AS FAR

AS THEY COULD GET AWAY WITH IT.

SO GOING TO SEA IN A RUSSIAN SUBMARINE

IS NOT REALLY A VERY ATTRACTIVE PROPOSITION.

Narrator: IN 1994, THE BLACK WIDOW IS OFFICIALLY DECOMMISSIONED

BY THE RUSSIAN NAVY

AND SOLD TO A PRIVATE COLLECTOR IN BRITAIN

WHO MAINTAINS IT AND TURNS IT INTO A MUSEUM.

TODAY, THIS HULKING COLD WAR RELIC LIES EMPTY,

RUSTED AND ABANDONED IN ROCHESTER,

FORMING A FLOATING REMINDER

OF A MUCH MORE TREACHEROUS AGE.

3,500 MILES AWAY ACROSS THE ATLANTIC OCEAN

ARE THE LINGERING TRACES OF A GRAND PLAN

TO REVOLUTIONIZE LIFE ON EARTH.

OBSCURED BY TREES IN THE SUBURBS OF LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK

LIES THE REMAINS OF A NEW AND BOLD SYSTEM

WITH GROUNDBREAKING DESIGNS

TO POWER THE ENTIRE PLANET.

THE COMPLEX SPREADS ACROSS 16 ACRES,

CONTAINS DOZENS OF WORKSHOPS

AND HAS A WOOD-FRAMED 187-FEET TALL,

90-FEET-WIDE TOWER, WEIGHING 65 TONS,

TOPPED WITH A HEMISPHERICAL COPPER DOME,

WEIGHING AN ADDITIONAL 50 TONS.

BUT WHO BUILT THIS GIANT STRUCTURE?

AND WHY WAS IT ABANDONED?

AT THE END OF THE 19TH CENTURY, GAS-BASED POWER

IS THE NORM IN AMERICA,

BUT INDUSTRIOUS ARE LOOKING FOR A SAFER

AND MORE EFFECTIVE METHOD TO ILLUMINATE CITIES

AND POWER HOMES: WITH ELECTRICITY.

BUT ONE SCIENTIST HAS AN EVEN BIGGER AIM:

TO CREATE ENOUGH ELECTRICITY TO RUN AMERICA.

TODAY, WE TAKE ELECTRICITY FOR GRANTED.

AT THE TURN OF THE 19TH CENTURY, IT WAS THE NEW BLACK.

IT WAS FULL OF WONDER.

IT WAS A CURE-ALL FOR ALMOST ANYTHING,

AND ITS POTENTIAL WAS LIMITLESS.

Narrator: AND POWERING THIS AMBITION

IS THE REVOLUTIONARY WARDENCLYFFE TOWER.

BUILT IN 1901, ITS CUTTING-EDGE PURPOSE

IS TO HARNESS THE POWER OF WIRELESS

ELECTRICAL TRANSMISSION.

THIS IS A TIME OF POWER AND ELECTRICITY

AND ALL THIS SORT OF SCIENCE,

WHICH IS THE WAY IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE,

IS SEEN ALMOST IN A SORT OF MAGICAL ASPECT, RIGHT?

AND THEY USED TO PUT ON BIG SHOWS TO PROMOTE THIS.

THERE'S HUGE AMOUNTS OF PROPAGANDA, IN THE SAME WAY

THAT YOU SEE THAT A MAGICIAN WOULD DO LIKE THAT.

THEY WERE TREATED IN THAT SORT OF WAY.

Narrator: INSIDE WARDENCLYFFE TODAY

LIES WHAT'S LEFT OF A RUINED

AND VANDALIZED LABORATORY BUILDING.

PEOPLE COME FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD

TO EXPLORE THESE DAMP CORRIDORS

AND TO LOOK FOR CLUES OF WHAT HAPPENED HERE.

DURING THE EARLY YEARS OF THE 20TH CENTURY,

THESE OMINOUS HALLS INSPIRE RUMORS

ABOUT MYSTERIOUS EXPERIMENTS

AND ONLY PARTIALLY VEILED STRANGE FLASHING LIGHTS

AS WELL AS THE RECLUSIVE FIGURE WHO WORKS HERE,

THE HALF-GENIUS, HALF-MAD-SCIENTIST

NIKOLA TESLA.

TESLA WAS A UNIQUE MAN.

HE WAS VERY PRIVATE.

HE WORKED ALL THE TIME.

HE WAS OBSESSED WITH INVENTING.

I THINK HE WANTED TO HELP THE WORLD.

HE WANTED TO DO THINGS THAT WOULD BENEFIT ALL OF HUMANITY.

Narrator: THE SCALE OF TESLA'S VISION IS TREMENDOUS,

AND THAT'S JUST FROM HIS PLANS AT WARDENCLYFFE.

THE GROUNDBREAKING FACILITY REQUIRES A KIND OF ENGINEERING

THAT'S NEVER BEEN ATTEMPTED BEFORE.

WE'RE STANDING ON THE BASE OF THE TESLA TOWER,

A 187-FOOT-HIGH TOWER ERECTED WITH WOODEN BEAMS.

AND THE THING ON TOP, A BIG ROUND COPPER HEMISPHERE

WAS REALLY A CAPACITOR TO HOLD VOLTAGE.

HE'D CHARGE IT TO AS MUCH AS HE COULD, MILLIONS OF VOLTS,

SO HIGH THAT HE WOULD GO BEYOND THE CAPACITY

AND IT WOULD SPARK, SEND OUT BOLTS OF LIGHTNING.

[ ELECTRICITY CRACKLING ]

Narrator: THIS UNIQUE CAPACITOR

BECOMES TESLA'S BEST-KNOWN INVENTION,

USED IN DOZENS OF EXPERIMENTS.

ITS INTENT IS TO UNLEASH A STREAM OF ELECTRICITY

STRAIGHT DOWN INTO THE EARTH

AND INTO A SPECIAL UNDERGROUND CHAMBER.

FROM THERE, THE ELECTRICITY IS DESIGNED TO TRAVEL

ALONG RADIATING TUNNELS

AND OUT INTO THE EARTH'S CRUST.

WHAT HE WAS TRYING TO DO WITH THIS

WAS DEVELOP POWER TRANSMISSION

AND WIRELESS POWER

BECAUSE THOSE TESLA COILS ARE ACTUALLY GREAT AT CREATING

AND SENDING RADIO WAVES

OR ANY SORT OF ELECTROMAGNETIC WAVES.

Bagget: AND HE BELIEVED THAT HE COULD SET UP

A STANDING WAVE OF ELECTRIC POTENTIAL

WITHIN THE CRUST OF THE EARTH.

A STANDING WAVE, THAT'S LIKE A WAVE ON A STRING ATTACHED

TO A JUMP ROPE.

YOU MOVE IT JUST RIGHT, YOU GOT A STANDING WAVE

THAT DOESN'T TRAVEL.

AND ALL AROUND THE EARTH WOULD BE THESE PEAKS

AND VALLEYS OF VOLTAGE.

IF YOU COULD TAP INTO THEM, YOU COULD PICK UP POWER

OR MAYBE INFORMATION.

IF YOU MODULATED THE WAVE, YOU SEND INFORMATION.

I THINK THAT SORT OF VISION OF, YOU KNOW,

CREATING POWER AND DISTRIBUTING IT

OUT THROUGH A NETWORK,

THAT'S SOMETHING THAT WE HAVE TAKEN ON BOARD.

NOW, MAYBE NOT DIRECTLY FROM TESLA,

BUT IT'S ANOTHER CASE OF THAT'S

WHAT NEEDED TO HAPPEN TO TRANSFORM THE WORLD.

Narrator: BUT DOES TESLA'S INCREDIBLE INVENTION ACTUALLY WORK?

AND WHY WAS IT FINALLY ABANDONED?

Narrator: IN 1901, NIKOLA TESLA BUILDS A HUGE 187-FOOT TOWER

WITH SUPPORT BUILDINGS AT WARDENCLYFFE ON LONG ISLAND,

JUST 60 MILES EAST OF NEW YORK CITY.

FOR 5 YEARS, HE TRIES TO CREATE FREE ELECTRICITY

FOR ALL OF AMERICA USING HUGE TOWERS

AND TRANSMITTED AROUND THE COUNTRY WIRELESSLY.

BUT POWERFUL FORCES ARE MOBILIZING

AGAINST TESLA'S BOLD PLANS.

AND HIS DECISION TO OPT FOR ALTERNATING CURRENT

INSTEAD OF DIRECT CURRENT

FOR HIS ELECTRICITY BRINGS HIM INTO CONFLICT

WITH ANOTHER INDUSTRIAL PIONEER:

THOMAS EDISON.

EDISON HAD DIRECT CURRENT, DC, AND TESLA HAS

HIS ALTERNATING CURRENT, AN AC.

AND THERE WAS A BITTER RIVALRY BETWEEN THEM,

A REAL WAR BETWEEN THESE TWO PEOPLE.

AND EDISON WAS JUST A BETTER MARKETER THAN TESLA.

TESLA WAS VERY FOCUSED ON SCIENCE, ON THE POSSIBILITIES

AND EVEN THINKING WAY, WAY AHEAD INTO THE FUTURE.

LIKE, "THIS IS HOW WE CHANGE THE WORLD."

THE THING WITH THE ALTERNATING CURRENT IS THAT IT WAS

SO MUCH MORE USEFUL FOR TRANSMITTING POWER.

THE DC CURRENT, THAT'S ESSENTIALLY WHAT WE USE...

WE ONLY USE THAT IN BATTERIES NOW.

THAT'S ALL WE USE DC CURRENTS FOR.

POWER STATIONS, IT'S SO MUCH EASIER TO GENERATE POWER

IN AC IN HUGE QUANTITIES.

IT'S SO MUCH EASIER TO TRANSMIT THAT POWER OVER POWER LINES.

AND EVEN TESLA WAS STARTING TO TALK ABOUT

WHAT WE ARE NOW TRYING TO DEVELOP,

WHICH IS WIRELESS POWER.

Narrator: DESPITE THE TECHNICAL SUPERIORITY

OF ALTERNATING CURRENT,

TESLA BECOMES HIS OWN WORST ENEMY

IN HIS RIVALRY WITH EDISON.

HIS SECRETIVE EXPERIMENTS AND OBSESSIVE BEHAVIOR

MAKE IT EASY FOR THE PRESS TO PORTRAY HIM AS AN ODDITY.

THIS FRIGHTENS TESLA'S MAIN FINANCIAL BACKER,

THE LEADING FINANCIER, J.P. MORGAN.

AND SUBSEQUENTLY, HE PULLS HIS INVESTMENT OUT

OF THE WARDENCLYFFE PROJECT IN 1906.

TESLA HAS NO CHOICE BUT TO ABANDON THE WHOLE ENTERPRISE.

Archer: EDISON WAS ABLE TO SMEAR HIM.

HE PUT ON SHOWS TO SHOW THE DANGERS

OF ALTERNATING CURRENT

ELECTROCUTING ELEPHANTS

TO SHOCK PEOPLE INTO THINKING,

"NO, DC'S THE WAY TO GO.

IT'S SAFER," AND ALL THAT SORT OF STUFF.

SO, YOU KNOW, TESLA SUNK INTO DEPRESSION.

HE GOT ILL.

HE DIED A VERY POOR MAN, UNFORTUNATELY,

BECAUSE, AS WE KNOW

FROM AFTER HIS DEATH, IT WAS HIM THAT WAS RIGHT.

HE HAD THE RIGHT TRACK WITH ALTERNATING CURRENT.

HE EVEN, PERHAPS, THEY THINK, CAME UP WITH RADIO

BEFORE MARCONI EVER REALLY DID ANY OF THAT.

SO TESLA, WHILST BEING RIGHT, UNFORTUNATELY,

WAS NOT APPRECIATED IN HIS TIME.

Narrator: EVEN THE GIANT TOWER MUST BE DEMOLISHED FOR SCRAP

TO HELP PAY OFF TESLA'S DEBTS,

LEAVING NOTHING BUT

A GIANT OCTAGON-SHAPED FOOTPRINT IN ITS WAKE.

TODAY, ALL THAT REMAINS OF TESLA'S SHATTERED DREAMS

ARE A FEW SUPPORT BUILDINGS

AND THE EMPTY FOUNDATION

OF HIS ICONIC TOWER AT WARDENCLYFFE.

NIKOLA TESLA CLAIMED TO HAVE COME VERY CLOSE

TO PROVIDING THE EARTH

AND ITS PEOPLE WITH FREE ELECTRICITY,

ONLY TO BE BEATEN BY J.P. MORGAN AND THE BANKS,

WHO WERE DEAD SET AGAINST HIS PLANS AND INSTEAD,

CHARGE HANDSOMELY TODAY FOR THIS UTILITY.

Gough: THE REALLY DISAPPOINTING THING

ABOUT THE WARDENCLYFFE TOWER PROJECT

IS THAT IT WAS HALTED HALFWAY THROUGH DUE TO,

ALLEGEDLY, LACK OF FUNDING. REALLY?

J.P. MORGAN'S YOUR BACKER, AND HE DOESN'T HAVE MONEY?

OR IS IT POSSIBLY BECAUSE TESLA IS CREATING FREE ENERGY

THAT NOBODY CAN MAKE ANY MONEY OFF OF?

I THINK WE NEED TO LOOK AT THAT QUITE CAREFULLY.

Narrator: 2,500 MILES AWAY,

HIGH IN THE WHITE MOUNTAINS OF CALIFORNIA,

IS AN OMINOUS FACILITY

WITH ITS EYES SET FIRMLY ON THE STARS.

12,760 FEET UP ON THE BARCROFT PLATEAU

LIES A DECREPIT RESEARCH STATION

WITH NUMEROUS SCIENCE LABS,

OBSERVATORIES AND LIVING SPACES FOR UP TO 25 PEOPLE.

THIS REMOTE STATION'S FOCUS WAS, QUITE LITERALLY,

OUT OF THIS WORLD.

BUT WHO BUILT THIS FACILITY?

AND WHY WAS IT ABANDONED?

IN THE 1950S, THE SPACE RACE IS ON.

WITH THE SOVIET UNION GAINING THE UPPER HAND IN PRACTICALLY

ALL MATTERS BEYOND EARTH,

THE UNITED STATES FOUNDS NASA IN 1958.

TO GAIN ITS FIRST HUMAN TOEHOLD IN SPACE,

NASA MUST GATHER SENSITIVE

BUT CRUCIAL INFORMATION

ABOUT THE PERILS OF SPACE TRAVEL.

AND TO DO IT, THEY USE THIS SECRETIVE LOCATION,

THE BARCROFT STATION.

IT WAS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT IN DEVELOPING SPACE TRAVEL.

Narrator: IN THE EARLY 1950S, BARCROFT STATION

IS A CLASSIFIED RESEARCH FACILITY RUN BY THE US NAVY,

BUT WITH A BACKING FROM NASA,

THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA

TAKE IT OVER AND CONVERT BARCROFT

INTO A SPACE RESEARCH FACILITY

WITH GRAND AMBITIONS:

TO LAUNCH HUMANS INTO OUTER SPACE

AND RETURN THEM SAFELY.

HOWEVER, THIS BIG AIM OF THE SPACE PROGRAM

MUST START SMALLER,

EMPLOYING A UNIQUE COLONY: MONKEYS.

THIS WAS BUILT IN 1951, AND THEY STARTED GATHERING

METEOROLOGICAL DATA AT THAT POINT

AND STARTED RAISING LABORATORY ANIMALS UP HERE.

THEY STARTED STUDYING THE CHIMPANZEES' PHYSIOLOGY

BECAUSE THEY WERE PLANNING

TO SEND CHIMPS UP INTO SPACE BEFORE THEY SENT HUMANS.

AND SO THEY NEEDED TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT CHIMP PHYSIOLOGY

AND ALSO DEVELOP MONITORING DEVICES,

SO THEY COULD MONITOR THE HEALTH AND CONDITION OF THE CHIMPS

WHILE THEY WERE UP IN SPACE.

Narrator: THE MONKEYS ARE CHOSEN TO BE THE FIRST CREATURES IN AMERICA

TO FLY INTO SPACE AND TEST

WHETHER IT'S SAFE FOR HUMANS TO FLY.

THIS IS AN AUTHENTIC RELIC FROM THE EARLY '60S

FROM THE PERIOD

WHEN WE WERE TRAINING CHIMPS

AND MACAQUES TO GO INTO OUTER SPACE.

THIS IS A 55-GALLON DRUM THAT'S BEEN FITTED OUT

WITH A LITTLE PLEXIGLAS SEAT,

AND IT'S A SPACE CAPSULE SIMULATOR.

IT'S GOT INSULATION ON THE OUTSIDE.

IT'S FITTED WITH CATHETERS,

WHICH WERE SURGICALLY IMPLANTED IN THE ANIMALS,

AND THIS WAS FOR THEM TO GET ACCUSTOMED

TO WHAT THEY'D BE DOING IN OUTER SPACE.

Narrator: WITH MONKEYS SEALED INSIDE THEM,

BARREL CAPSULES ARE SUSPENDED BENEATH A HELICOPTER

AND FLOWN TO BARCROFT STATION.

THIS EXERCISE BEGINS AN EXTENDED SERIES

OF EXPERIMENTS TO RECORD PHYSICAL RESPONSES

TO STRESS AND CHANGES IN ATMOSPHERIC PRESSURE.

WE'RE NOW IN THE GROUND FLOOR OF BARCROFT STATION.

IN THE '60S, THE GROUND FLOOR HAD ANIMAL COLONIES.

THEY HAD CHIMPS AND MACAQUES HERE,

AND THEY STUDIED THE PHYSIOLOGY OF THESE ANIMALS.

AND THEY DEVELOPED TELEMETRY DEVICES TO MONITOR

THEIR CONDITIONS OF THEIR BODIES AND THEIR HEALTH.

HERE, THEY COULD LOOK AT THE EFFECTS OF HIGH ELEVATION

ON THE ANIMALS.

THEY WOULD TRAIN THEM TO SOME EXTENT,

GET THEM ACCUSTOMED TO SITTING IN THE LITTLE CHAIRS

BECAUSE WHEN THEY PUT THEM IN THE SPACE CAPSULES,

THEY WERE CONFINED.

YOU CAN TRAIN THE ANIMALS TO DO THINGS THAT ARE MORE SIMILAR

TO WHAT HUMANS MIGHT DO IN SPACE,

PRESS BUTTONS, PULL LEVERS AND SO ON.

AND IT ALSO MEANS THAT YOU CAN GATHER DATA THAT HELPS YOU

WITH THE DESIGN OF THE CABIN

THAT YOU WILL ULTIMATELY USE

TO PUT HUMANS INTO SPACE.

Narrator: BUT WHAT WILL THE EFFORTS OF THESE BRAVE PIONEERS REVEAL?

AND WHY WAS THIS UNIQUE PROGRAM ABANDONED?

Narrator: TO CATCH UP TO THE SOVIET UNION'S

BREAKTHROUGHS IN SPACE

AND ITS ICONIC 1957 LAUNCH OF LAIKA THE DOG,

THE BARCROFT RESEARCH STATION IN CALIFORNIA

DEVELOPS ITS OWN ANIMAL ASTRONAUTS FOR NASA

THROUGHOUT THE '60S.

DIFFERENT COUNTRIES SENT UP DIFFERENT ANIMALS,

SOMETIMES FOR OBVIOUS REASONS,

SOMETIMES FOR LESS OBVIOUS REASONS.

FOR EXAMPLE, IF YOU WANTED TO SEND ANIMALS UP,

AND YOU KNEW THEY WEREN'T GOING TO COME BACK,

YOU MIGHT SEND SOMETHING LIKE MICE.

BUT, OF COURSE, YOU WANT TO DO EXPERIMENTS

ON LARGER ANIMALS, TOO.

AND IN SPUTNIK 2, THE SOVIETS SENT UP THE DOG, LAIKA.

AND THEY HAD A POLICY WHERE THEY TOOK DOGS OFF THE STREETS.

THE IDEA WAS THAT YOU WOULD TAKE ANIMALS

THAT WERE USED TO LIVING A HARSH LIFE,

LACK OF FOOD, LACK OF WATER

AND THEREFORE WOULD BE BETTER ADAPTED

TO THE KIND OF EXPERIMENTS THAT THEY WANTED TO TEST.

Narrator: BUT IT'S NOT JUST AGAINST THE SOVIETS

THAT THE EFFORTS AT BARCROFT

MUST REMAIN UNDER WRAPS.

IMAGINE THE SCENE.

IT'S THE 1960S, THE SUMMER OF LOVE.

HOW MANY AMERICANS REALIZE THAT MONKEYS ARE BEING TAKEN UP

TO A 14,000-FOOT-HIGH MOUNTAIN,

EXPERIMENTED WITH SO

THAT THEY COULD GET AN ADVANTAGE

ABOUT HOW TO LAUNCH A SPACE PROGRAM?

I THINK IF THEY KNEW THAT,

THEY ACTUALLY WOULD HAVE BEEN HORRIFIED.

Green: USING ANIMALS, SADLY, WAS A VERY VALUABLE STEP

TOWARDS GETTING HUMANS INTO SPACE.

YOU SIMPLY COULDN'T AVOID DOING THESE KIND OF EXPERIMENTS.

IF YOU WANT TO TEST THE EFFECT

OF VERY HIGH ACCELERATION FORCES,

YOU CAN DO THAT ON ANIMALS.

IF YOU WANT TO TEST WHAT HARSH LANDINGS ARE LIKE,

YOU CAN DO THAT ON ANIMALS.

AND, INDEED, THEY DID.

EVEN THOUGH THERE WAS KNOWLEDGE ABOUT HUMANS AT HIGH ALTITUDES,

WHAT THEY DIDN'T HAVE AT THAT POINT WAS KNOWLEDGE

ABOUT HOW THE HUMAN BODY RESPONDED

IN A WEIGHTLESS ENVIRONMENT.

SO THOSE KIND OF EXPERIMENTS, YOU CAN CONDUCT ON ANIMALS.

AND, OF COURSE, YOU DO WANT TO DO THAT

BEFORE YOU CONDUCT THEM ON HUMANS.

Narrator: THIS SAD BUT CRUCIAL STEP GIVES THE SCIENTISTS AT BARCROFT

THE DATA THEY NEED TO HELP PREPARE AMERICAN ASTRONAUTS

FOR THEIR FIRST STEPS INTO SPACE.

Archer: YOU CAN SIMULATE TEMPERATURE CHANGES.

YOU CAN PUT PEOPLE IN CENTRIFUGES

TO EXPERIENCE HIGH G's LIKE IN A ROCKET TAKE-OFF,

BUT YOU CAN'T DO EVERYTHING.

WE REALIZE THAT, EVEN TODAY.

THAT'S WHY WE'RE STILL DOING EXPERIMENTS

AT THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION.

ASTRONAUTS ARE GUINEA PIGS, IN THAT REGARD.

WE'RE TRYING TO UNDERSTAND HOW THE HUMAN BODY IS AFFECTED

BY WEIGHTLESS ENVIRONMENT,

HOW SPACE RADIATION AFFECTS US.

WE ARE STILL FINDING OUR WAY WITH A LOT OF THESE THINGS.

Narrator: IN THE END, OVER A DOZEN MONKEYS

SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCH INTO SPACE.

THE KNOWLEDGE GAINED FROM THEIR HEROIC EFFORTS

BECOMES INVALUABLE TO THE HUMAN PILOTS

OF THE MERCURY AND APOLLO PROGRAMS.

WITH THIS STELLAR SUCCESS, NASA AND THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA EVENTUALLY SUSPEND THEIR ANIMAL RESEARCH.

TODAY, THE BARCROFT STATION LIES ABANDONED

IN THE MOUNTAINS OF CALIFORNIA,

A POTENT REMINDER OF JUST WHAT IT TAKES

AND THE SACRIFICES MADE FOR HUMANITY'S QUEST

FOR THE STARS.

The Description of The Tesla Conspiracy