It’s Wednesday, and that means we have more breathtaking footage from an anonymous drone pilot who has flown over some of Scientology’s most hidden locations.
Four weeks ago, he gave us a view of Scientology’s secretive international management base (“Int Base”) that we’d never seen before. Three weeks ago he flew us over the even more secret “CST” headquarters compound in the mountains above Los Angeles, where we believe Scientology leader David Miscavige stashed away his wife Shelly eleven years ago. Two weeks ago we got an unprecedented look at the ranch in San Luis Obispo County where Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard died in 1986. And last week, he took us over Scientology’s vault location in the Sierra foothills of California, the Lady Washington Mine.
This week, we’re getting a look at another secretive “CST” underground vault site owned by the church, one which is located in California’s far northern coast, near the town of Petrolia.
Like other sites, this Church of Spiritual Technology location has an underground vault that is intended to house the preserved works of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard to last thousands of years. The entrance to this vault is housed in a really remarkable structure that looks almost as if the Millennium Falcon spaceship has landed on earth. Our pilot got some really amazing looks at it for us in his first flyover.
The property also features elaborate living quarters, one of which is set aside for the return of Hubbard. But in this case, the vault is separated by quite a distance from the “LRH House.” In order to film both locations, the drone pilot filmed them separately. In the first video, he got dramatically close up shots of the structure around the vault opening. The other three videos focus on the other end of the site, which has a large building that resembles a conference meeting center, and the LRH House.
Here’s a satellite image of the entire site, which lies along a private road off of Old Mattole Road, northwest of Petrolia itself.
Once again, make sure you go full screen as you watch these videos to soak up the incredible detail captured by the 4K camera on the DJI Phantom 4 drone.
In the late 1980s, when this vault was being put in place, one of the few CST workers to witness it was Dylan Gill. He says that earthquake fault lines were a concern, and after the Petrolia site was obtained, there was some question whether a vault would be put in there at all.
“We were waiting to find a better location. Then we got the Lady Washington Mine. And the question was, do we still build at Petrolia? But then finally it went ahead, and I got to go out there,” he tells us.
Gill says that if CST itself was a secret from most Scientologists, the outer sites, like at Petrolia and Lady Washington, were really remote from the rest of the world of Scientology. “I didn’t even know they were part of our org until I went out there,” he says. Some workers could spend years and years at the remote locations, never interacting with the rest of the church — or with the rest of the world, for that matter.
Like us, he noted the presence of building material around the spaceship-looking vault building, but he doesn’t know what the construction might be about.
At the other end of the property, the LRH House and the berthing building share space with some outbuildings and an antenna.
This is another elaborate house that has been outfitted to the square inch, for the use of L. Ron Hubbard to grow up and then take over Scientology once he returns. (He died in 1986.) And just down the hill from it, the road bisects a huge CST symbol that has been carved into the ground, but is not showing up very well these days.
When we first interviewed Dylan for a 2011 Village Voice piece, he told us the symbols were meant to guide L. Ron Hubbard’s spirit back to the place where he’d get to live at the LRH House as he prepared to take the reins of Scientology again. But today, Dylan says the symbol has another purpose — to guide people to Hubbard’s archives after a civilization collapse.
Either way, it’s a pretty funny use of a tax-exempt organization’s property.
Your church dollars at work.
Audible.com has released the audiobook version of The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper and you can get the book for free if you’re signing up at Audible for the first time!
Read by the author (that’s us), the book tells the incredible tale of a journalist who was among the first to expose Scientology’s controversies, and nearly paid for it with her life. Go to Audible’s website for more details — [US version] [UK version]
To support the Audible launch, Paulette Cooper joined us for an “Ask Me Anything” session at Reddit on September 29, which covered a lot of topics about the book and about this website.
E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.
Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. 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