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Butler County’s Iron Mountain Houses Some Of U.S.’s Most Amazing, Priceless Treasures

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

John Shumway John Shumway
John Shumway joined NewsRadio 1020 KDKA in 2004 as co-host of The KDKA...
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BOYERS, Pa. (KDKA) — Just miles from Pittsburgh, in Butler County, they’re preserving the world’s heritage.

Not to mention, they’re doing it 220-feet below ground in an old abandoned mine.

KDKA’s John Shumway says he’s had some incredible experiences during his TV career, but Iron Mountain is mind boggling.

Search Iron Mountain on the web and you’ll discover that it’s a massive storage company. In fact, whatever you have, they can store it, shred it, back it up digitally, slice it, dice it and make Julienne fries.

But this story is about Iron Mountain’s crown jewel hidden 220 feet below the rolling farms of Northern Butler County.

During the first half of the last century, 500 miners every day went below ground to bring out the rich limestone that fed the three rivers area steel mills.

When the mining was done in the early 1950s, the site was abandoned, leaving behind massive caverns carved out of a seam of limestone so thick that tractor trailers can easily drive through its corridors.

Today, Iron Mountain’s limestone walls are painted a brilliant white, and bright lights illuminate the passages so you quickly forget you are even underground.

The 50 degree water of the 150-acre underground lake is pumped throughout the mine to maintain a temperature perfect for document preservation.

Fifteen generators stand ready to make sure the mine, and the 2,700 people working there, are never in the dark.

Behind door after unmarked door are the vaults. Ranging in size from a few hundred square feet to 220,000-square feet, there are 125 large vaults, another 25 smaller units and hundreds of acres still to be developed.

“One vault [is] the size of a shopping center,” says Iron Mountain’s Tom Benjamin.

In those vaults, you will find everything from the original prints of classic motion pictures, to studio masters of classic albums and documents of every imaginable description.

I would name drop some of the big name clients who use Iron Mountain’s Butler County mine, but the company protects its clients’ confidentiality, so no names here, but use your imagination, think big and you’ll probably be right.

Trust me; I have only scratched the surface of what the mountain holds. We were only supposed to be there a couple of hours and left three and a half hours later and it felt like 15 minutes.

One of the treasures held in the mountain, the Corbis Image collection – 27 million visual images, stored there by Bill Gates to prevent their deterioration.

“We have quite a few folders for Lincoln, looks like 18 so you can see here. Statues, monuments, Lincoln memorial, the cabinet,” said Ann Hartman, the Corbis senior manager of library and records.

But the most treasured of all is probably a picture believed taken either during or around the time of the actual Gettysburg Address. President Lincoln in the center, hatless, and delivering what he felt was a poor performance of a speech still memorized by school children throughout the country.

Visit Iron Mountain’s website here!

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