We’ve written numerous times about Scientology’s secretive subsidiary called the Church of Spiritual Technology. CST has a strange mission — to build underground vaults where L. Ron Hubbard’s writings can be stored to survive for tens of thousands of years. And CST has a super-secret headquarters, a small mountain compound east of Los Angeles near a place called Lake Arrowhead.
If storing Hubbard’s words to survive a nuclear holocaust weren’t strange enough, what makes the CST headquarters compound particularly interesting is that multiple lines of evidence have convinced us that it’s the place where David Miscavige has kept his wife, Shelly, out of sight for more than a decade.
Now, for the first time, we’re getting an overhead video look at the CST compound, courtesy of the anonymous drone pilot who last week shared with us his flyovers of the church’s international management base near Hemet, California, called “Int Base” or “Gold Base” by Scientologists.
Int Base is itself secretive, but not on the level of CST. If only a tiny percentage of the world’s Scientologists ever get the chance to visit or work at Int Base, almost none of the top officials at Int Base knew anything about CST’s super-secret headquarters, even though it was just some 50 miles away. Amy Scobee, for example, a top former Sea Org executive for more than 20 years, told us she’d never known where CST’s HQ was located until she left the church.
Most Scientologists today can’t even agree what to call the place. Some call CST’s headquarters compound “Twin Peaks” for a nearby community, others “Rim of the World” for a nearby highway, still others call it “Rimforest” or “Crestline,” for two local villages.
In this map, we place the relative positions of Scientology’s administrative headquarters in Los Angeles (known as “Big Blue” for its paint scheme, and “PAC Base” for Pacific Area Command), Int Base near Hemet (to the right, on the map), and, nearer the top of the map, the location of CST’s headquarters compound, Twin Peaks…
A closer look at the location of the Twin Peaks compound, where a couple of mountain highways come together…
Only one person who has worked at CST and its secret bases has gone public to talk about it. His name is Dylan Gill, and he gave us his first press interview for the Voice back in 2012.
Gill worked for CST from 1988 to 1991, starting his job as just a teenager. He was then moved back to Int Base, then thrown into a Scientology prison, and finally made a break for freedom. (See more about his amazing personal story here.)
We sent Dylan screenshots from the drone footage to help us understand what we’re seeing. But first, take a look at the video itself, and soak in one of Scientology’s most secretive locations. Make sure you go full screen to take in the detail of the 4K camera…
We grew up in L.A., so we can tell you that this is pretty spectacular country. Well above the city and its congestion, the compound is situated in an idyllic forested setting. Dylan has pointed out in the past that if Shelly Miscavige is living and working here, one of the perks of the place is that it’s not Int Base, with the pressures of working with David Miscavige and being subjected to his whims, which for some executives has included being held at Int Base’s notorious prison, “The Hole.”
Hundreds work at Int Base, but when Dylan was at the CST headquarters, he said there were only 16 to 19 people working there. He says he’s surprised to see so many cars in this footage, so he thinks there might be a few more people working at the compound today.
The video footage begins with the drone approaching the property from the south, coming up and over Rim of the World Highway and approaching the compound from the western end. After rotating around, the drone begins to move slowly over the property to the east.
As it does, Dylan pointed out to us a large building on the left that he said was “Qual” — the qualifications division, where course rooms are ready for delivering Scientology training. On the right, meanwhile, the building with the white roof is a huge log cabin, with four bedrooms and four bathrooms. The smaller outbuilding below it Dylan says was ready to serve as administrative offices.
“The log cabin, that’s where all of the execs would stay when LRH returned,” Dylan says, referring to the Scientology belief that at some point founder L. Ron Hubbard, who died in 1986, would make his return to earth, and would spend several years at a CST location preparing to take over the church again. “Things were shipped in from Montana for the cabin. Everything was hand built…We had two on-site engineers, who were not Scientologists.” In other words, he explains, outside experts were brought in to make sure everything was as sumptuous as possible once Scientology’s top brass came here to stay.
At one point, Dylan, then aged only 19, was sent to New Mexico to pick up log chairs for the cabin. “They sent me with a one-way plane ticket and some cash. I got all the log chairs, rented a van, and drove them back. I stayed overnight in Flagstaff. I went by myself, they really trusted me,” he says.
Despite his young age, Dylan found himself buying electrical generators for CST locations that came directly from Caterpillar and cost up to $400,000. “The accounts I pulled from, from ASI [Author Services, Inc., another Scientology subsidiary], had $14- to $16-million in them at any given time. And I was 19 years old, taking over for someone who had just gone to the RPF.” (The Rehabilitation Project Force is the Sea Org’s prison detail.)
In the late 1980s, in other words, CST was spending money at prodigious rates, but then it had been the entity, according to court documents, that L. Ron Hubbard had bequeathed about half a billion dollars upon his death in 1986. There was plenty of cash then — and even more now. We’ve showed recently that Scientology is still boasting about the expensive technology it uses to preserve Hubbard’s work, with his words etched on steel plates that are stored in titanium containers inside the vaults.
As the drone continues to move, a large building with a complex antenna on top comes into view on the right side.
“That’s one of the original buildings on the property,” Dylan tells us. He says it housed production, the actual work of archiving L. Ron Hubbard’s work for storage in the vault. Immediately above it is a larger building.
“That’s my baby. I built that. That’s the new production building. There’s a clean room in there, with an argon gas system that will flush out all the air and oxygen from the room and replace it,” he says. Based on plans he had access to, he says that high level, confidential material is probably still being archived at the old production building, and more basic material is being processed at the new production building. “These buildings house all of the original crap of Hubbard’s that’s getting archived.”
Also in this view, the location of the vault is coming into view. The circular plaza with three walkways coming out of it is directly on top of the double corrugated steel cylinders that make up the vault itself.
As we move up, the building that is used to get into the vault comes into view. It houses an elevator down to the vault entrance. “I had nightmares about that place for years after I left,” Dylan says. “Weird dreams where I’d be at the vault entrance and the C.O. [commanding officer] would be yelling at me.”
The vault is not deep in the ground. Its two parallel steel cylinders lie just below the surface. “That’s why you can’t build anything on top of them,” Dylan says.
The building above the elevator house, he adds, is berthing for staff, but it’s also where, in his day, the motor pool was. He suspects the current building serves for both — as both a garage and a bunkhouse. Dylan notes that when he worked at the base, staff berthing was in some cabins outside the compound’s entrance. But he thinks this building has been built to keep the staff inside the compound.
And just coming into view on the upper right, he points out, is a large building that’s a mess hall. “It has a big fireplace and seating for about 50 people.”
As the full extent of the mess hall comes into view on the right, on the left we can now see the compound’s biggest structure — the LRH House…
“It’s almost 4,000 square feet. It’s an LRH office on steroids,” Dylan says. This is the elaborate, spare-no-expense home where the reincarnated L. Ron Hubbard, once he finds his way here, would live and do his research until it was time for CST to restore him to his rightful place at the head of Scientology. Or something like that. Dylan admits it was all rather theoretical.
The entrance to the compound, past a guard shack, leads to the lane at the center of the top of this view, and just to the right, at the top, are three buildings. Dylan says they contain offices, and that the leftmost of these is the building that he worked out of. He worked in “estates,” and his job was the facility itself, to build and maintain the compound.
“I am kind of surprised by how many cars are there. and that there are handicapped spaces. I guess they’ve been subject to some scrutiny,” he says. “When I was there the place was rougher.”
The drone begins to shift its view, rotating to the right, and the mess hall is now on the right side as another building comes into view on the upper left.
“See that building, it has a strange roof,” Dylan says.
The drone moves forward and that building comes into better view, along with one beyond it.
And it turns out this is our money shot.
Dylan points out how this is really the view we’ve wanted to see. The new production building is on the right, the mess hall at the lower right, and at the top there’s a clearing with grass and prominent cement pathways.
“Those are the heated pathways I told you about before,” Dylan says. And we remember our previous story with him, when he had explained that after a worker had slipped on an icy sidewalk and broke her wrist, CST spent stunning amounts of money to bring in an expert and make glycol-heated pathways throughout much of the compound to melt snow and ice.
“They brought in a guy who worked on airport runways,” he says.
The pathways connect the production buildings, the mess hall, and on the left, we can now see more clearly two buildings. The one above, Dylan says, is berthing for the commanding officer, who he thinks might be longtime CST executive Sarah Bellin.
But it’s the other building that grabs our attention when Dylan says it’s “exec berthing” and then, almost matter-of-factly, adds…
“If Shelly is there, that’s where she would be living.”
We stare at this view, as Dylan points out how Shelly would take the heated pathways from exec berthing to the production house to work on the archiving project, and then to the mess hall and back to berthing.
We’re staring at what is likely Shelly Miscavige’s entire current world.
“It’s a small property,” Dylan says.
You can say that again. And now, we’ve been given a new understanding of it and just how small it is.
The glamorous life of Emily Jones
Phil Jones sent in this image, telling us that he spotted his daughter, Emily, in the audience during a broadcast of the CW’s “Masters of Illusion.”
Phil and his wife Willie left the church and then their grown children, Emily and Mike, “disconnected” from them in the Scientology way. It motivated them to start a billboard campaign.
Emily, meanwhile, pops up from time to time in the media because she and her husband, John Goodwin, on her left in the photo, work for Scientology’s Galaxy Press, marketing L. Ron Hubbard’s novels, and so they have more freedom than other church workers.
Because they work for Galaxy Press, they aren’t technically Sea Org workers anymore, Phil tells us. “They do get a minimum wage and some perks. She does live a different life than those in the regular Sea Org and always has, even when on David Miscavige’s staff. This show they went to might have been a PR thing. I’m not sure. John is President of Galaxy Press so maybe he has the money and opportunity to go to shows like this. Meanwhile my son Michael slaves away at 100+ hours a week for pennies per hour. They both need to get out and hopefully soon.”
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Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield