Viable Eastern Retreats, by H.A.

One of the prime considerations of anyone interested in preparing for a serious man-caused or natural disaster in the near future, is the matter of geography. James Rawles coined the concept of the American Redoubt, giving name and definition to an area widely-held to be ideal survival terrain. This area by one of its own main core criteria, is very low population density. But the majority of American people attempting to prepare are not in the American Redoubt. It is difficult for economic and other considerations to uproot and relocate there. More power to anyone seriously considering relocating to the American Redoubt. But in this piece, I will attempt to elucidate some viable eastern retreat options, specifically for folks in the Northeastern US.

The Eastern Seaboard of the United States, the so-called “Bo-Wash” corridor or Megalopolis, is straight off a nonstarter for survival in a crisis. While I may believe survival is very possible at much higher population densities than what Mr. Rawles considers optimum, at some population density point survival is out of the question. Population proximity is a vector for conflict and disease. That is not to say that there are not areas not extremely far away, but sufficiently far away where survival is very possible.

In the big picture, strategic sense there are some big pluses to the Eastern US, OUTSIDE OF THE MEGALOPOLIS. The first is that the climate and growing conditions are most amenable to pre-industrial means of farming. Our ancestors farmed the Eastern US for centuries before mechanization of agriculture and did just fine. lots of hard work, yes, but the climate is fine and a wealth of tried and true methods exist to make the most of this area’s growing conditions.

One of the keys to survival in any area of the east will be the coordination and defense of local areas by larger groups. This is not ranch country where lone individualists will make lone stands. The countryside of the Northeast, however, has a long tradition of organization at the town level. This will be key: People will have to engage with their neighbors and steer things the way they must go.

Another is outside of the obvious population-based nuclear targets in Megalopolis, there aren’t nearly as many military nuclear war targets in the Northeast as there are in the West and South. The Northeast has precious few military bases of note. The only Army base in the Northeast is Fort Drum in New York, on the Tug Hill Plateau. The West and the Plains have many more military targets, and the geography supports dispersion of radioactive fallout more readily. Play around with the variables at Nukemap and you’ll see what I mean.

Taking all of the negatives under advisement, in this piece I am going to lay out some viable options for relocation within the Northeast. If you are in this part of the nation, these are the sub regions to be in. Consider all information presented against your own judgement and background knowledge.

As shown in Figure 1, I’ll be discussing four potentially viable eastern retreat regions:

  • Maine
  • New Hampshire, Vermont, and the Adirondacks
  • Western New York/ Northern PA Mini Redoubt
  • The Allegheny Mountains

Eastern RedoubtsFigure 1: Possible Retreat Regions: (Red-Maine. Yellow- New Hampshire, Vermont, and the Adirondacks, Purple- Western New York/ Northern PA Mini Redoubt, Blue- Allegheny Mountains)

Maine

One area that immediately pops to mind is Maine. The interior of Maine is a vast, lightly populated forest. The coast of Maine is the source of many fine fisheries, shellfish, and crustaceans accessible in a crisis. Most of those require a boat. Maine also has favorable gun laws. It really is as free as the states in the Rocky Mountain West. Its downsides are, however, considerable.

Maine was one of the first areas of the Atlantic Seaboard visited and colonized by Europeans. Unlike many other areas of early settlement, few people live there. This is partly due to the horrible fly season which made life very hard, and the hard winters. High elevation areas of the Redoubt also have hard winters, and its widely assumed than much as with other parasites, hard winters will have a way of dealing with the unprepared but mobile persons seeking to live off the hard work of others.

Maine is, like the rest of northern New England, in close proximity to additional population centers in Quebec. I believe this will not be a major issue due to a cultural preference of Quebecois to disperse into the countryside of Quebec rather than into the US in a crisis, despite the nominally more hospitable climate in Maine than in many rural parts of Quebec outside the immediate environs of the St Lawrence River Valley. Additionally, the Katahdin Mountains and surrounding Wilderness provide a barrier from the regions into the bulk of Maine.

Maine contains large tracts of both publicly owned and timber industry-owned forest. This will be a key asset to provide strategic depth in a conflict or even to avoid the spread of infectious disease. A prudent prepper in Maine will have both their primary homestead and plan to disappear into the forest.

Southeast Maine is also the most populated part of Maine, is close to Boston and is additionally the path of least resistance out of Boston. Stay out of the southeast corner of the stat. Prepare ample means of heating in winter, ample food storage, and a means of defense centered on co-operation with neighbors, and the state is actually excellent survival terrain. Parts such as Aroostook County and the traditional Potato farming area along the New Brunswick border are favored.

New Hampshire, Vermont, and the Adirondacks

This is classic rugged terrain. Many of these mountains were abandoned as marginal farmland a hundred years ago due to economics, but not before the ability to farm for subsistence was proven. Until recently, Vermont was one of the best states for gun owners, and New Hampshire remains so. If you live in New York, you must make your own choices about what constitutes legitimate authority to restrict your natural rights and your compliance with illegitimate laws. Politics aside, this is a pretty good area to hack it in when the going gets rough.

Eastern Redoubts

Figure 2- Cropland in the Northeast

There are significant dairy farming operations in Vermont and in the periphery of the Adirondacks. Besides these cattle herds and a variety of small organic-type operations, food production is currently very limited. It will be IMPERATIVE for people in this region to plant as much as they possibly can at any hint of a crisis. A prepared individual in this region will be looking very seriously at greenhousing, even preparing excess greenhouse capacity not used in good times, to be pressed into service in hard times.

Western New York/ Northern PA Mini Redoubt

This is the area I consider the best in the northeast and one of the best east of the Mississippi in the event of a crisis. Here we have a lower population density, excellent soil, a more traditional and conservative population (with all that entails about things like gun ownership, self-sufficieEastern Redoubtsncy, and civic participation), and ample defensible terrain. (See Figure 4, for some political demographic mapping.)

Figure 3- Soil Quality

Much of this area has not been heavily affected by population inflows from outside or inside the United States in the post-WW2 era. It is this author’s opinion that this will be a huge plus. One of the critical weaknesses of modern American society is the estrangement that comes from multiculturalism and a transient culture. If you have nothing in common with your neighbors you are not likely to work together in a crisis, whatever Hollywood tries to project.

The area surrounding the Finger Lakes in New York has an excellent micro-climate for growing wine grapes, with a well-established viticulture and a history hops production. Apple orchards are also abundant there,  being the origin of the Cortland and Empire varieties. Dairy farms are found throughout the area especially heading toward Lake Erie and in the Genesee Country.

Eastern RedoubtsWithin this region there is a large forested area in northwestern and northcentral Pennsylvania consisting of the Allegheny National Forest and a complex of several Pennsylvania State Forests. This will provide a strategic refuge in certain scenarios, including international conflict. Western New York has less concentrated forest but better farmland, on average.

Figure 4- 2016 Election Results Map

Allegheny Mountains

Lastly, I’d like to address the Allegheny Mountains region. The Allegheny Mountains are very low by the standards of most mountains, being very ancient and heavily eroded. This does not prevent them from being a formidable barrier to a traveler on foot. These mountains held up the westward progress of early settler for many decades. Within the narrow, finger-like valleys the soil is fertile (as seen in Figures 2 and 3) and the possibility of riding out a crisis is good, if certain externalities are not present.

The big negative of this region is the sandwich effect between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The viability of this region in a crisis is dependent on conditions in those areas and refugee/looter outflows from them. For instance, if people largely flow south or west from Pittsburgh, then you are golden. But if the region is crushed with double inflows from west and east, then negative conditions will be exacerbated.

Another big negative of this region is the existence of Continuity of Government locations on the periphery of this region at Site R, Camp David, Mt. Weather, and transmitting stations due west of Chambersburg. These are nuclear war targets and are likely to be surrounded by security cordons under effective martial law during  any crisis.

I look forward to seeing your comments, in the Comments section.




73 Comments

  1. I’ll be Captain Obvious and suggest these are NE retreat possibilities, of which no doubt the author is quite familiar. And I appreciate the discussion of criteria for what makes a plausible retreat scenario.

    In the mid-Atlantic region, anywhere along the Appalachia would be favorable in VA, WV, NC, and TN. With the exception of the urban areas, any of these locations provide a loose knit infrastructure of neighbors with a strong sense of heritage.

    My family migrated south along the Appalachian mountains in the mid 18th century, eventually settling near the NC/SC border. That’s as far south as they ventured. Anywhere further south, and you would need darker skin to survive as a simple matter of practicality. I hope this observation doesn’t strike anyone the wrong way.

    Mountains provide effective geographic boundaries, just ask the Swiss.

    1. There are some retreat possibilities in southern central NC as well as the mountains and even some near the coast depending on your inclination . Unfortunately the political climate of nc is switching to the wrong side, and i fear in another generation it will go from purple to blue. The cost of living is also pretty high as well.

  2. I live in the western New York area in a small rural village and I can attest to the claims in your article. We also have a retreat property even closer to the PA line. We have plentiful hardwoods, apples, as well as an abundance of game. We tap our maples for syrup each spring in addition to reaping the natural harvest of berries and nuts. The water from our well is clear and cold. As a retreat, it is close to perfect. The one major downfall is that it is in New York state. A conservative representative in our area, David DiPietro, has proposed breaking up ny into 3 areas. While I support his efforts, I’m not holding my breath.

    1. A conservative representative in our area, David DiPietro, has proposed breaking up ny into 3 areas.

      I see I’m not the only one that thinks several states need to subdivide. Pennsylvania is another one that needs to break up, as is Virginia.

    2. Break up NY by the three Tiers? Have travelled these areas for decades and you must be very specific as the areas are lightly inhabited for reasons of lack of sustainable agriculture,transportation issues and lack of resources to be economically viable

  3. Agreement with AWB. For those who live in the Washington to Philly corridor, it might not be too far to make it to the Appalachian chain from West VA and south through VA and NC. Anything west of the I-81 interstate can be very rural very fast. I don’t mean you can just pitch a tent and be accepted, as people in these areas are comfortable with firearms. But if you want to make inroads to these areas ahead of time, and if you can be a good neighbor, you’ll be accepted soon enough.

    1. Hi Duane,

      I live in southeast Michigan. We were looking north, anywhere above US 10, including the UP. If I was 20 years younger (now 68) I wouldn’t hesitate to move to the UP. The hard part is to find that right combination of forest and usable, farmable, land. It can be done. Depending on where you live you won’t be close to a Walmart, I think there are only 4 in the UP. The winters are as cold as in Maine, New Hampshire, or Vermont, but the summers are quite warm. Good water, relatively low property taxes, and a budding secession movement, the state of Superior.

      There is a relative shortage of hospitals. They exist, but, like Walmart, they are few and far between. There are no Sam’s Clubs or Costco stores. Depending on where you settle, it might be a 200 mile drive to those stores.

      Population density is light, 320 thousand spread out over 15 counties. I’d stay away from Marquette county, its a solidly “blue” area. It is also the most populous county, with 67k plus.

      One downside. There are two defunct B-52 bases in the UP. They are now area airports. Their runways are considerably shorter now as the operators did not maintain the original 12,000 foot runways. I think they are both down to 7,000 feet. There are also a couple of very old Army Air corp bases that are now local airports, much shorter runways.

      Overall, the UP is doable, if you can hack the very cold winters. Do your own homework, see if the UP is right for you. You may also consider the northern lower peninsula. I would stay east of I-75. There are some pending ground water pollution issues in a couple of counties west of I-75. I found the State of Michigan web site to be quite helpful, better than other states I have looked.

      1. Charles K, thanks for the reply. Marquette is 1 of the areas I was looking at because of the hospital there. Also I am considering the area around Alpena. I think next summer I will plan a trip to explore northern Michigan for myself.

        1. I was also looking around Alpena, and Mio, and Cheboygan. The hospital in Alpena is attached to U of M, so should be a good hospital.

          I agree with VT on the counties close to Lake Michigan, but stay away from Antrim County. There was a TCE spill there decades ago that has gotten into the local aquifer. The State of Michigan, unfortunately, has the responsibility for the clean up. They have been talking about it for 22 years (when it was discovered), talk and testing is about all that has been done so far. Depending on where you live in the county, you may be forced on municipal water, no well. The EPA and MDEQ have good information on possible pollution issues.

          Have fun. I wish you success.

      2. I’m from West Michigan. I’m for splitting Michigan from Lansing north and south aka West Michigan and East Michigan. Or maybe Michigan and West Michigan, kind of like Virginia and West Virginia. The UP would be part of West Michigan. We have zero in common with the east. Maybe even a slightly diagonal line heading north east.

  4. Any fellow preppers reading this article in the Western Mass. region please chime in. Locating like-minded individuals that are interested in self-reliance is an ongoing challenge. Personally, I am located near the I-91 corridor in western Massachusetts.

    1. Joe, I am no longer there, but, now in NC. But, I wanted to say hello. I grew up in Southampton, Mass. And spent many a summers in the surrounding areas.

      I miss the the Pioneer Valley very much as far as geography, but, Mass. Has become way too liberal for me and with piles of draconian gun laws, I couldn’t imagine living there now.

      Spent 38 years in W. MASS. , 10 years in CT, and then after the draconian laws passed POST-SANDY HOOK, I knew I had to move to a “free” state.

      1. Hi Paul,

        I went to high school in Westhampton, you must have as well?! I completely understand wanting to move to a free state. Unfortunately with all my family in this state I can’t afford to move them with me and I couldn’t leave them behind lol. I’ll find a solution soon I’m sure.

        1. Hi Joe,
          Thanks for your response. Yes, I went to Hampshire Regional, class of 1984.

          Nice to hear from you. Staying where you are and making the best of it is not the worse thing. The South is VERY different and the mentality here takes a LOT of getting used to.

          I am sure if you are diligent, you will find some lime minded Patriots, there is definitely a remnant like you.

          May God Bless you and yours!

          1. Thank you Paul, the same to you!

            If you were still in the area I would definitely suggest meeting up.

            I wish you the best at holding down the fort in the south!

  5. I live in the Southern Appalachions on a small lake. The area has a strong sense of community and many folks who wish to keep it that way. Most of us can survive and exist for a fairly long period of time. The difficulty here and in other self sufficient areas such as the redoubt will be the various governmental efforts to subdue and control these places.
    Most preppers think that gangs and starving refugees will be the problem but in my opinion the “government” will present the greatest challenge.

    1. Yes! The federal government has a long and ugly history of “helping” these oh so very poor and stupid hillbilly rednecks here, for their own good, at gunpoint.

  6. Aroostook County Maine, around the Presque Isle area is a beautiful place to live, friendly people, good police, good growing ground, prices for land are still low, lots of berrys, hazelnut trees, secluded areas, lot of woods. maybe a month of real bad weather in the winter but beautiful spring, summer and fall, plenty of water.

  7. I strongly disagree with this article. You should know that everybody, and I mean just about everybody in the northeast has in mind to run to the mountains and rural areas if something major goes wrong. They have no plan, and little knowledge, or tools. I used to live in NYC, after 9/11 they all think and even say; I’ll just go upstate, or to my friends house in Vermont. These places will be overrun in a matter of days depending the situation. With all do respect, I wouldn’t be anywhere near the northeast as millions upon millions stream out the cities looking for water/food/shelter. Your only hope is that ‘authorities’ do what I suspect they will, and try to keep everybody trapped in zones and not let them move about, I mean, control is all they know.

    And, if your plan is to simply show up in the the southern Appalachians and hills westward you need a new plan. The people here are clannish, the dialects and accents are very specific, and outsiders are not easily welcomed. It takes years to establish a trust here and even then, you will always be an outsider. To this day, there are places you simply do not go unless you were born there.

    1. A friend in Peekskill, NY, told me about the government’s evacuation plan for the town. This is not gossip; he was working for the town at the time. It is a small, poor, mostly minority city in the extreme northwestern tip of Westchester County, directly on the Hudson River.

      All citizens will be directed to evacuate to the SOUTH! They are to take Route 9, which runs along the Hudson River.

      This means going directly into affluent areas in southern Westchester, and towards New York City. Not north, into less populated and somewhat more rural areas, but into the most densely populated areas, which can only be escaped via a very few bridges.

      I think you are quite correct about trapping people in zones. And it is very easy to block off the two roads out of town that lead directly north, as a small bridge has to be crossed to reach either of them.

      Does anyone else know what the government’s evacuation plans are for their area?

      1. NYC shut down all of the bridges and tunnels on 9/11. As you move further out from all of the metropolitan areas, you find the suburbs where the people with more money and political power live. They will not want the golden horde moving through their neighborhoods, so the local police and county sheriffs will close access. Consider the gridlock when a hurricane approaches a coastal area. I expect that the hoard will not be able to reach most truly rural areas in significant numbers. I’m fully prepared for it if it happens, but I don’t expect the locusts.

        1. That is absolutely true of the area north of Peekskill, which is western Putnam county, home of extremely wealthy and powerful people. Also of both Camp Smith, which has become a high tech military post, and West Point, which is just across the Hudson River. I don’t think they want visitors.

          But evacuees from Peekskill are being sent into the wealthy and powerful suburbs to the south. Maybe it depends on who has more clout.

          However, re 9/11, if I remember correctly, it was to trap terrorists from entering or escaping from the city. When it became clear that was not an issue, the roads were unblocked.

  8. Great advice which many should find helpful. I was familiar with several of these areas for relocation. One mistake I made was putting too much weight on political demographics. If the Schumer-hits-the-fan demographics will probably change quickly in favor of traditional American values and culture.

    1. Though I agree totally with your point,in the meantime, we live under the tyranny of NY. Therein run lies the rub. Alot of ideals we “preppers” share, NY frowns upon or makes illegal.

      1. woodsplitter, you are in a tough situation. I was very fortunate to be able to move. But even here in Montana we have patriots behind bars for behaving as if they were free.

        My point: Patriots everywhere need to be very careful. Most of us cannot afford legal defense no matter how egregious the charges. Incarceration is no place to be when the Schumer-hits-the-fan.

        1. > But even here in Montana we have patriots behind bars for behaving as if they were free.

          Woodsplitter, I must have missed that. Could you provide a link or elaborate briefly? There is no PM option here unfortunately.

  9. I live in the American Redoubt, North Idaho to be exact and it always amuses me when I read about the virtues of living in the East. Most have never been out west, much less the redoubt area. Trying to explain the size of western states, much less, Montana/ Idaho or Wyoming for example, is like trying to describe the color blue. I’ll try it this way:There are areas where You can put your foot on the gas pedal of your car and drive with a full tank of gas, you can literally drive nonstop until you need to stop and gas. No traffic, no stop lights, no stop signs and you can keep doing this over and over again… there are vehicles in this part of the Country that have 200K+ miles on them… that run like new, and have never had their brake pads changed, because the miles are all highway miles.

    1. LO, I live in the east and I’m here for one reason, I have a job I love, that I’m extremely good at, that pays well while serving our country. If I lived elsewhere I lose the job. I grew up in KC and traveled all over the west growing up and later with my son. I’ve seen what you describe and the mountains of the west are unmatched in the lower 48 (AK makes the west seem crowded with small mountains). If I could move my job, my family and my wife west I would start packing tomorrow. The east is just different. It’s a cultural melting pot, with good food and flavors from around the world, shopping galore, great universities, cutting edge medical care, jobs, the ocean and beaches ( give me a lake or river any time), cities that you can get round in without a car, fiber optic internet to the house, and too many people. There are small islands of land that can seem like you are in a rural area anywhere in the country, but people are never far away. Some people can live in an apartment and be happy and others want space.

  10. NH is turning more and more blue as the Massholes move up. The 93 and 3 corridors are exclusively nanny staters at this point. North of concord, west of 3, the 101 corridor are all still decent. Who knows for how long tho.

  11. 1) Re Western PA, the problem is NOT just a pincer movement of refugees from Pittsburgh and Philly/New York City. There are also large population centers immediately to the west in Ohio ( Cleveland/Akron/Youngstown ) plus about 14 million urban Canadians to the north (Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec) as well as Buffalo and Rochester.

    2) This map does not show Canada but illustrates the population concentrations in
    northeast US as “mountains” — estimate where the “spread” will be from their collapse.

    https://ritholtz.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/population-distribution.jpg

    3) There are other nuclear targets in the Northeast: In the past, at least, Erie PA was a major industrial target because it makes railroad locomotives and distribution of grain from Midwest silos via railroads is vital to the US government’s Continuity of Government plan (as well as control/ drafting of the US population.)

    4) FEMA’s 1990 nuclear attack planning base showed an unusual amount of intense fallout from an attack on New Jersey across from New York City — that is probably an attack on the Navy’s big ammo bunker complex at Weapons Station Earle and suggests storage there of nuclear warheads for the surface fleet (the loading pier extends 2 miles out into the bay.) Northeast Maine has a long runway that may be attacked because it could host B-52 bombers.

    5) I focus on a major nuclear war with Russia because that is the only event that I can think of that would loosen the hold of the Federal Government’s Continuity of Government plan. In all other disasters, the President’s Emergency Powers would allow military drafting of all US citizens, ban on most travel, discipline via food rationing and concentration camps for rebels plus seizure of useful private property — including boarding 5 urban refugees/spies in every rural household– and seizure of registered firearms/ food “hoards”.

    In other words, private survival plans would be rendered moot.

    5) The same would occur in major nuclear war if the US government had time (5 days for NY City, 3 days for others) to execute its plan to evacuate the major urban areas from Boston to Washington into the interior countryside — including boarding urban dwellers from high crime areas into rural homes. Government assumes its spy satellites would give it 5 days warning as Russia evacuates its own cities prior to an attack.

    I myself think the warning time may be only 30 seconds — 50 seconds tops.

    6) A few other points: 450 rads of fallout radiation could kill you in a war environment. FEMA’s 1990 fallout risk area map shows the Redoubt getting up to 15,000 rads from ground bursts on the Minuteman missile fields at Great Falls Montana, Cheyenne Wyoming and North Dakota. Eastern seaboard urban areas projected to get lower –but still high — levels from air bursts (which create little to no fallout) However, the rural areas in the interior were expected to get less than 3000 rads — survivable in the basements of the Northeast.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/MapPorn/comments/1ym41m/femaestimated_primary_targets_for_soviet_icbms/

    7) The interesting thing is that the major US Army forts are located in the yellow (low rad level) zone — Ft Bragg, Ft Benning, Ft Stewart, Ft Hood, Ft Campbell, etc.

    Also, units at each fort are suited dominate their surrounding area — armoured tank units on the plains of Texas, air assault helicopters at Ft Campbell to cover the mountains of Appalachia, Green Berets in the swamps/forests of Georgia/Carolina, winter ski troops of the 10th Mountain Division at Ft Drum in upstate New York, etc.

    Finally, early in the Cold War Congress ordered that all military buildings in the USA would be constructed with a minimum of 100 pF fallout protection.

    1. Not so sure how high Erie is on the nuke attack target list anymore. There are still a number of places that do military work but does it warrant a nuke? I plan as if it does, just in case. A nuke on Cleaveland buffalo and Pittsburgh will take out the same rail system.

      There are other military installation that will be very high on the target list- like the Naval logistics center in Mechanicsburg.

      1. 1) Good Point. I did not forget Ft Dix but I assumed the fallout from attacks on Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia would put it out of action.
        However, While FEMA’s detailed fallout map indicates the eastern half of Joint Base McGuire Could receive Medium Fallout (3000-6000 rads) the western half might only get 3000 rads or less.
        2) Note, However, that FEMA assumed that Philly would be hit mostly with nuclear air bursts – which generate Little to no fallout. Which makes sense since the 10 psi blast radius of an airburst
        Extends out to almost twice the distance of a ground burst.

        3) However, Philly is not only An oil refinery area – it also has a significant chunk of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve stored In massive underground caverns:
        https://www.inquirer.com/philly/business/20150503_Deep_under_Marcus_Hook_refinery__new_importance_for_massive_old_caverns.html

        Largest oil storage on the East Coast.

        4) Russia might not be to destroy those deep bunkers but it would probably hit them with Ground strikes to collapse them/make them inaccessible. Which would throw a Large fallout cloud to Ft Dix.

        ) However, Dix may have deep shelters unknown to us.

    2. Thanks for the interesting downloads. RE western PA, would the population centers west and north head for PA or more fertile land to the west or other parts of canada for the people north? There are just too many people in the east.

      Independent of the federal gov. continuity plans I can see state and maybe even local gov. or bands of people going after food, weapons or ammo. The only way I can see to protect supplies is to go underground with at least some of those supplies on the property. This means I need more land so the excavation can be done unnoticed by neighbors. Hills would help provide cover in the winter when the leaves are gone if the stores needed to be accessed. I’ve been pondering how an entrance could be hidden on the property, ideally opening into a structure, but invisible from inside the structure when looking at the door in the basement. The ground needs to be diggable with a backhoe which depends on the rocks underneath. Caves would be nice too, but haven’t seen any on the properties I’ve been touring. I don’t own the land yet, so its really just a mental exercise in my spare time.

      1. Greg
        1) You might consider water evacuation routes like the Chesapeake Bay — see my post at the bottom of this thread.

        2) Caves can have airborne diseases — e.g, spread by bats.

        https://www.wired.com/2011/07/underground-cave-diseases/

        3) One problem with covert bunkers is that they can be found by dogs. An inaccessible site about 4/5 ths up the side of a steep mountain would be best. But that makes water supply a problem long term. Spray access path with tear gas.

        4) A covert bunker might let you survive the initial month or two of chaos but to last long term you need to rejoin a human group. But after such chaos, any group you contact might consider you an outsider and fair game for robbery/murder. The downside of isolation is that you don’t become a member of a group when intense loyalties — and a hard attitude to the rest of the world — are being formed.

  12. Re Vermont — As a former resident — Most of the population is in Chittenden County in Burlington. Basically 100 percent leftist — Bernie Sanders was mayor — that says it all. Very restrictive zoning and environmental laws as well as high taxes and cost of living. House prices are terrible — never seen a place like this that, basically, has no middle class. You are either rich or doing hourly work in a service industry e.g. barista, retail clerk

    Gun laws now suck — there was nothing better on a Saturday than driving in country and finding guy on roadside with pickup truck load of guns — cash and carry.

    Outside of the Northeast Kingdom up by New Hampshire and Canada can’t recommend this as a retreat location. And the long icy winters are exactly as advertised. If you are considering the NE I’d look at Maine away from the coast. Much friendlier overall to what you are trying to do.

  13. This is a good primer for the NE prepper. I’m a lifelong (52) New Englander. Yes, you have to be hardy to make it in some parts of the region. Although I live in southern New England, My wife and I have a part time residence/compound/homestead in the Western Maine mountains. Our 17 acre property is adjacent to long time friends who are doing the same on their 15 acres. Our area was chosen for many reasons, specifically, many like minded, rugged folk who are already making it in our neck of the woods.
    Hardwoods flourish on our land which provides all the firewood we could ever need. Our wells and streams provide plenty of fresh water. Most everything else can be grown or raised with the proper outbuildings.
    The biggest issue we face is getting here (250 miles) in the case of any problems around Boston. But once we’re here Maine provides us with what we need to survive. That’s the plan anyway!

  14. Interesting report of retreat areas in the NE USA region. I hope someone will also write a report on retreat areas in the SE region & heartland region in the center of the country. I live in the South-central USA, & am considering a job offer about 5-10 hours North of here, in the Kan-Neb-MO-Iowa region. There are numerous very rural areas in the central US, although trees & woods are more limited in the plains states.

  15. I’m glad I’m not the only one who saw the Western Pa area as good retreat area. We also have some very nice enclaves of Amish and Menonites who are great people with great post-TEOTWAWKI skills and abilities. One thing the author points to is political climate as an element of a good retreat area. Pennsylvania being one of the original 13 colonies has a very robust state constitution. Our gun rights by the PA constitution are better protected than under the national Constitution since our (Pa 2nd Amend) states that the right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned.
    Here in Pa local government, especially at the township and borough levels his common sense hometown government rule- the vast majority of authority remains at the local level verses at the state level. We don’t have silly laws making it illegal to collect rain water, in fact we are encouraged to make rain barrels and collect it. Lots of good land at affordable prices with very nice hard woods that provide lots of BTUs in the winters. Our Little white tail deer dwarf the big white tail deer in many other states. Lots of public land in the area that HR has noted too.

      1. Definately on the gas taxes!! Highest in the Nation- property taxes depend upon where you live. If they could stop the insane spending on subpar public education in the cities property taxes would be a little better.

  16. Unfortunately NH is becoming a lot more liberal and nanny statish. If you’re on the 93 or 3 corridor you’re probably in a suburban town that will be screwed if the SHTF. North of concord, west of 3, and east of 93 it’s a bit better. Still something to worry about.

  17. I would like to see a comprehensive article on Alaska. If the SHTF, government will be THE major threat. AK is at least 800 to 1,000 miles away from the lower 48 government by water. Mainland AK is over 2,000 miles away through Canada. If things collapse nobody will have ready access to fuel. The climate zone of Ketchikan is the same as Eastern PA. Prince of Wales Island is the same as Long Island,NY. Homer, AK is the same. There will be no large scale mechanized farming, only small family gardens. There will be no large scale manufacturing anywhere. The people of AK are very independent and self -sufficient. If things fall apart, those that are not self-sufficient will leave or perish. Government will be too busy with the mess in the lower 48 to interfere with 400,000 people ( reduced by attrition ) over 2,000 miles away. Every other option in the lower 48 is surrounded by hostile forces which means those within are prisoners with the enemy right on their border, not 1,000 miles away. AK is surrounded by an ocean full of all kinds of edible sea life. The government threat is over 1,000 to 2,000 miles away. Coastal AK has very mild temperatures compared to interior AK. AK is the US version of Switzerland. AK has all the advantages of the retreat areas being promoted and then some. After the SHTF we will all have the same disadvantages. This is why we prepare, to reduce those disadvantages to more manageable levels.

    1. Alaska has a huge advantage due to low population density {outside of the Anchorage area.) But it has a huge disadvantage in that home heating would be very problematic. Wood heat might be viable if you’re young and fit and willing to work hard all Summer to prep for Winter.

      1. Coastal AK temps are milder than most of the Northern lower 48. If you take advantage of super insulation and earth sheltering your heating requirements will be greatly reduced. Ample supplies of wood, lignin, and coal can be found in many areas. Wind and hydro can be used in many areas.

  18. My wife and I travel and vacation in Maine with our RV for a month almost every summer. We prefer the remote areas along the coast north of Bar Harbor, and once you are 20 miles or more north, the area is fairly remote and sparsely populated. But, lots of farms, great salt water and fresh water fishing, along with the associated other salt water edibles. People are friendly if you make the effort and just make sure you are far enough away from Bangor and the very large fleet of Air National Guard refueling tankers…. a likely target in time of war.

    My best suggestion for remoteness would be north or west of Moosehead Lake. While the east side of the lake is a destination for native Mainer’s it is west of Bangor by more than enough to not be effected by an attack on that location. The north and west sides are VERY remote and it took us 5 hours of driving over some very rural roadways to get to a campsite we go to at the upper end of the lake. By the way, Moosehead is one of the largest bodies of fresh water east of the Mississippi and there are several connected lakes also. LOTS of other fresh water lakes (very clean by the way) in the area, just look at a map and even then it does not show all. Good fishing, lots of game and local small farms.

    However, any location 50 or more miles or west of Bangor I would consider remote, very little population, lots of small villages and towns to move to if that is your thing.

    Also, look at the various fallout maps and if it is an issue to you, look at the probable ash fall maps from a Yellowstone eruption, very little to no issue in this region!

    Overall I have always considered this my “go to area” if we have enough time to get there. With 160 gallons of diesel on board my F-350 and our 5th wheel, we have the perfect camp location to go to on the lake…. see you there!

  19. 1) One threat that has not been mentioned is that land areas north of 40 deg latitude could be frozen by nuclear winter in a significant conflict between US and Russia.

    The theory is that soot from burning nuked targets would be lofted into the stratosphere, would reside there for months–i.e., s would not be removed by rain/snow/wind as occurs in the lower troposphere and would freeze the surface below by blocking sunlight.

    2) There are many criticism/uncertainties re this theory — the civilian proponents have been ignoring critics in the DOD/DOE labs for 40 years — but one aspect is worth noting: The stratosphere is about 17 km high in subtropical/tropical areas south of 30 deg latitude but only 8-9 km high in areas north of 50 deg latitude. Starting at 50 deg latitude , the stratosphere starts rising as one heads south.

    http://www-das.uwyo.edu/~geerts/cwx/notes/chap01/tropo.html

    Also, most of the major targets in the US and Russia are north of 45 deg latitude, with the exception of the Washington -New York complex and smoke from there would flow over the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic would be strongly resistant to cooling because of its immense mass and contained heat.

  20. I disagree with these areas for several reasons, one, most of our operating nuclear power plants are located east of the Mississippi river, and two the most likely areas to be hit with nuclear war heads during an even limited nuclear war are also heavily concentrated along the eastern seaboard, California, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Colorado and Washington State. If we were to be hit with an EMP bringing down our grid most of our nuclear power plants would have difficulty with having the rods cooled down for any length of time. If we had a nuclear war we are looking at the above mentioned areas being inundated with large doses of radiation. You can look up maps of likely nuclear targets and also maps of where our nuclear power plants are located, and clearly the eastern seaboard would be toast. Comparing both maps you can see several states that would be less affected by either scenario: New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Texas, Oregon and Louisiana.
    Many of the newer nuclear power plants have a better ability for shutting down and cooling the rods, but it is all a matter of time and mostly the fact that all of our supply chains will come to a halt. No businesses will be delivered any need commodities, food, meds, gasoline, etc., and the power plants will not be receiving needed fuel to keep the cooling systems running for very long. Then we will see Fukushima like scenarios happening many times over! We have about 60 commercial operating nuclear plants here and about 98 reactors.

  21. One missed base in New York is the Seneca Army Depot. This is a nuke target and nukes are stored there. It gets hit, and it scatters lots of unburned plutonium eastward. You also have the same on the west coast. The trident base will also do the same to Washington and eastward.

  22. Re-reading my post it sounds a little harsh, as most of us will not be in our ideal location, and I believe we must all do what we can for where we live. I don’t believe any of us knows what scenario the future holds for us, or where a disaster may occur, It could be anything, with I believe the exception of Zombies!! I worry about one of my daughters who just moved to DC with her husband who is a Captain in the military…….why did it have to be there of all places!
    We need to keep our faith and do our best for our families.

  23. Very interesting article and relevant to an awful lot of preppers who live east of the Mississippi. I live around Baltimore with family ties that I don’t want to leave. I’ve been looking for a weekend getaway that could double as a EOTW retreat. All of the places listed would be nice for a weekend cabin. Beautiful areas, NY has lakes, Maine is short people. I’ve vacationed in Maine, looked at property in upstate NY near relatives, but other considerations are now pushing me to look in PA. There are too many people between DC and Maine. If I had to leave town quick where will the roads be with the fewest cars. DC on a weekday jams roads for 50 miles and on the weekend jams all the highways for hours in all directions, and once home in a SHTF situation they would be going west which would block access going to WV or any other place south. For me going to upstate NY over to Maine would mean fighting Phily, NJ, and NY city cars leaving. This is sending me to PA towards the west. Anyone on the east coast needs to look at their traffic situation before deciding where to set up a retreat.

    I’m not convinced that everyone will leave the cities. Most won’t have enough fuel to get more than a couple hundred miles in bumper to bumper traffic. Where do they go? There isn’t any more food in rural areas and maybe even less than around the cities (and the warehouses that serve the cities with JIT deliveries). Rural people aren’t going to welcome them with open arms. Most people don’t know how to hunt. If they leave on foot they are probably dead in 10-15 days, or maybe 100-150 miles. Hiking to anywhere means tradeoffs between protection (guns and ammo) and food. Many people in big cities don’t have cars. How many whose comfort zone is the city are going to head to the scary woods? Some yes, but I think less than many think. How many will stay too long in the cities hoping the situation improves while their physical health and the security situation deteriorates to the point that it reduces if and how far they can escape too. That said, I’m not sure I will be able to find an area that is outside the 150-200 miles of the big cities that will have refugees. Sure, 300-500 miles would be nice, but that just isn’t possible in the east.

    Russia really doesn’t need to destroy the US to win. MAD still applies, almost everyone on both sides die in a full nuclear attack, but Russia, non-state actors, or N Korea could cause almost as much havoc by exploding a few bombs that took out the power grid with an EMP. Once the power grid is down, it will get bad quick and the nuclear plants have a good risk of melting down creating a new source of radiation. I have a map of the nuclear power plants and I’m trying to avoid land directly downwind. If the grid is heavily damaged power could be down for years, the economy will stop, the large transformers are not made in the US, utilities don’t keep many spare transformers, and the refineries will shut down ending the fuel supply for the generators that survive the EMP. Why destroy the ability of the planet to support life when an EMP can cause the US population to implode and destroy itself in fairly short order. It’s also consistent with Russia’s current attacks to undermine US institutions, trust and good government.

    The cheap land I’ve found tends to be the hills/mountains covered with trees but almost no topsoil. One way to assess topsoil is does the land perc to todays test standard. Many lots don’t perc, both because of rocks or because springs/underground water movement off the hills/mountains soaks the bottom land. I like the springs for water without electricity, but a septic is important if you want to avoid entanglements with local authorities and don’t want to pollute surface waters.

  24. One amazing bonus of a retreat in the rural / mountain areas of PA (and parts of WV too) is FREE ENERGY. Every other retreat area in the US suffers from one fatal grid down flaw. No post grid energy, except for unreliable solar & wind. Besides shallow deposits of coal and oil; Natural Gas is abundant. NG wells are all over in this area and a common feature of local rural land. I’m not talking big industrial Marcellus Shale well sites, I’m referring to shallow farm wells people have used for 100 years. My property has one and NG heats my home and water and provides electric. I expect it to produce for another 100 years and beyond. Researching NG conversions for my older vehicles (free fuel). Conservative, homogeneous, gun owning, blue collar population. Great agriculture, abundant year round water, mild four season weather. As far as zombies from the big cities – they are a gas tank away & they won’t make it very far into these forrests, hills and hollows anyway. The ‘western redoubt’ has got absolutely nothing to compare in long term survival and resilience.

  25. 1) The US plan for relocation of the US population just prior to a nuclear attack was laid out in this 1976 document stored in DOD’s DTIC archive.

    https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a026362.pdf

    “Survival of the Relocated Population of the US After a Nuclear Attack”

    2) Large download but well worth it since current plans probably similar due to inherent needs/ geography/ constraints.

    NOTE the maps in Fig 3.5 -Fig 3.11 showing the destinations of the massive movement of urban refugees. Fig 3.5 shows how the rural areas of the Northeast would be densely populated with refugees if FEMA’s CRP-2B tto evacuate BosWash was executed. Note that many of those refugees would be placed in private homes although Ollie North’s classified Project 908 planned to cover designated commercial buildings in rural areas with dirt to make quick improvised fallout shelters.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Program_Office

    3) also that private evacuations would probably be blocked by FEMA’s takeover of the main transport corridors in order to execute ITS evacuation plan. With the Army and State Police enforcing travel movement/ blockades.

    4) More recent US Government planning for the evacuation routes of major US cities — the National Mass Evacuation Plan — is here:

    https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/eto_tim_pse/reports/2010_cong_evac_study/fhwahop10059.pdf

    Has maps showing the major evacuation routes for our major cities along with cited problems/obstacles.

    The US Government is the major survivalist. Has been for a century.

  26. Don has read quite a bit about the nuclear thing, for sure. I take a slightly different tac, in that the scientific community in both Russia and the US soundly dismantled Sagan’s politically motivated nuclear winter theory. He published it in Parade Magazine without submitting it to peer review for a reason- to scare the masses into supporting unilateral nuclear disarmament during the Reagan years. We might see nuclear “fall”, a few degrees off from seasonal norms. Of course, if you live in cold climates, a few degrees colder is no big deal.
    Fallout maps. Interesting only, but the wind blows in many directions during any 24 hour window, and it only matters what direction it blows during the first couple of days.
    With nuclear arsenals being much smaller now days, targets that were marginal in 1970 are not going to be hit if we go to war tomorrow. The US now has only 15% of its 1988 arsenal, and the warheads are hideously out of date. Our real enemies enjoy fresh warhead inventory with simpler architecture. Chevys instead of Ferraris.
    Russian cities may NOT evacuate, as industrial cities worthy of SAC attention have extensive shelter archipelagos. That aside, the US doesn’t have nearly enough ordnance to waste on industrial targets anymore. Fewer still would survive a Bolt Out Of the Blue (BOOB) attack anyway. So your little towns near Army bases, cities that were once on target lists….probably aren’t. Cities are also useful as incentives to induce our surrender after a first strike (hostages).
    The Golden Horde may not materialize to the extent once thought. Most people will believe the power and water will come back into service…it always has, and will stay home until it is too late to venture out, especially with that 1/4 tank of gas that is not replaceable.
    Don’t worry too much about COG planning…the USG is very fragile in this area and their plans will evaporate during a real attack. Our Army and Navy bases have literally no protection from nuclear attack, and rely on civilian infrastructure for their existence. It will be dire if all we lose is the grid. It will just be slower in unraveling. The important thing is that families keep moving forward on readiness.
    A couple of days ago, I participated in a search team for a missing girl at a church girl’s camp. Not one of the adults in the 30 people assembled had a flashlight or bandaid on their person, even though nightfall was only an hour away. The FRS radios provided by staff were worthless in the heavy forest canopy. The girl was recovered as she walked down a road…the trail searchers got good exercise. It was a come-as-you-are emergency, and no one (myself excluded) were prepared in any way for a serious walk in the woods in darkness, nor able to render effective trauma care should be find a seriously injured girl. We won’t even mention animal attack. Cell service- none.
    Stay busy, folks!

    1. Roman Doctor Galen, “On Good and Bad Diet” circa 165 AD

      “The famine prevalent for many successive years in many provinces has clearly displayed for men of any understanding the effect of malnutrition in generating illness. The city-dwellers, as it was their custom to collect and store enough grain for the whole of the next year immediately after the harvest, carried off all the wheat, barley, beans and lentils, and left to the peasants various kinds of pulse –after taking quite a large proportion of these to the city. After consuming what was left in the course of the winter, the country people had to resort to unhealthy foods in the spring; they ate twigs and shoots of trees and bushes and bulbs and roots of inedible plants…”–

      https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0199602352

  27. 1) Most people are unfamiliar with boating so they don’t consider evacuation by water but this may be the best way of getting out of the Washington-New York area.

    A quick run down the Chesapeake Bay to the Rappahannock River would give a clear shot into rural central Virginia and continuing further to Virginia Beach gives access into rural North Carolina. All while evading the massive hordes on the jammed Interstates.

    Or a jump across the Bay from Baltimore onto Maryland’s rural Eastern Shore gives access to North Carolina via the bridge across the Bay at Norfolk.

    Note, however, that the huge Navy base at Norfolk is a primary nuclear target and a strike there might temporarily block exit from the Bay (intense radiation) and take down the long Bridge where the Bay enters the Atlantic.

    ) A quick run up the Hudson River gives access to rural upstate New York from New York City. A group in Manhatten — PlanB Marine — already has some high speed, center console power boats for their “Get Out of Dodge” plan: http://planbmarine.com/

    3) Note also that our large rivers give an exit path out of interior areas if needed – and boats are the only way of carrying large, heavy supply loads for great distances in primitive conditions.

    British guy took a canoe all the way from the headwaters of the Mississippi River near Wisconsin down to the Gulf of Mexico and the same thing could be done from western PA down the Alleghany River past Pittsburgh into the Ohio River –Mississippi River channel.

    The Susquehanna River runs from upstate New York down through Pennsylvania into the Chesapeake Bay.

    4) However, I think the oft-mentioned idea of fleeing to South America via sailboat is impractical. Atlantic storms and hurricanes only provide a window of calm water in the late May to July months.
    (The Inland Waterway and marinas would be one long gauntlet of armed bandits. )

    Plus the long Caribbean island chain from the Bahamas to Grenada is very densely populated and only Cuba produces enough food.
    The rest of the islands have to import almost all their food and depend on tourism.

    If SHTF, they would be starving within a week, would be pirates shortly thereafter and maybe cannibals within a month.
    Look at Venezuela.

    1. Maintaining a boat and docking space gets to be quite expensive.

      Depending upon where you are, the water route doesn’t work very well in the dead of winter. That plan B might have to be relegated to Plan C or D.

  28. Here in Maine you. are starting to get a socialist mentality in Agusta Now that Paul LePage is out of office the spend and tax Dems are now in charge.Coming soon will be more PC.nonsense.Getting 500 more illegals in Portland this week.North of Bangor and west of the coast is more conservative minded.

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