The Search for the Mount Dora Catacombs

For those who asked questions about our first post on the Mount Dora Catacombs, here’s what else we dug up. It’s an excerpt from an Orlando Sentinel Article by Ramsey Campbell, December 22, 1991:

“It is a monument to horror, madness and the will to survive.

And it is a secret this small Lake County community has kept buried for 30 years.

It is an elaborate subterranean bomb shelter, designed as an end-of-the-world hideaway to protect a select group of 100 Mount Dora residents during a nuclear war.

‘About all it’s good for now is growing mushrooms,’ said Dr. James Basil Hall, the 86-year-old former Lake County health director who helped plan the shelter. ‘But for a long time, it provided us with a lot of peace of mind. We knew where we would go if the bombs dropped.’

The fortress has 5,000 square feet of living space, not including storage areas. It was built to house 25 families. Each was assigned a private room large enough to accommodate four people. There was enough food and fuel to allow 100 people to live for more than half a year without ever having to poke their heads out of the ground.

The families – including those of the town’s mayor, the superintendent of schools, a local bank president, several doctors and a minister – planned to hunker down in relative comfort while a nuclear firestorm consumed those left above.

Then, when the smoke from World War III cleared and the radiation levels fell, they planned to emerge from their cocoon and start rebuilding civilization…

It took six months, a crew of 15 workers and a lot of heavy equipment to build the Catacombs. Keeping a lid on the project was difficult.

‘People would come up to me and ask to get in on the shelter,’ said J.G. Ray, 82, a Mount Dora contractor who built and designed it. ‘But I’d say I didn’t know what they were talking about.’

Ray told everyone who asked that he was using all that heavy machinery and all those truckloads of cement to build a croquet court. To keep up the facade, he did build a grass croquet court on top of the shelter.”


And here are photos that are claimed to be from inside the Catacombs, with full photo credits going to Last Leaf Productions, a company which we could find no information about:

We’d still love to go an fact-finding expedition to see it for ourselves… creepy yet fascinating at the same time!


Filed under History, Just Plain Weird, Literary, Mount Dora

2 responses to “The Search for the Mount Dora Catacombs

  1. Strela

    Hey there 😉 Those photo’s are from my write-up on my trip to the Catacombs. I can’t release information on the specific location of the catacombs, but if you need any details or impressions on the shelter, please don’t hesitate to email me at

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