The country is in a Cold War. Let’s say you, a government military official, wants to create a biological super weapon away from the prying eyes of those who think humans have natural rights. My question is, could the military plausibly create an entire town, for the creation of a super weapon, without their secret getting out?

  • $\begingroup$ what type of government is this? Do other governments or corporations have satellites? Is this medieval times? $\endgroup$
    – cegfault
    Mar 10 '19 at 0:54
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    $\begingroup$ Per @cegfault's answer, yes. The difficulty is logistics. Food and supplies must be shipped in. The results of research or manufacturing shipped out. It's plausible, but a logistical nightmare. Remote locations are your friend - places where you can shoot someone you don't know and not worry about it. $\endgroup$ Mar 10 '19 at 1:21
  • $\begingroup$ Widely known to exist (or at least "to have existed", granted it's not so easy these days when everyone has their own satellites, but still) [-] for the lack of the most basic research,. $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Mar 10 '19 at 1:47
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    $\begingroup$ "Why the downvotes?" read the comments. $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Mar 10 '19 at 1:52
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch - Not mine, I was actually trying to be polite when I said lack of research, I find it hard to believe anyone who actually just thought about the question for a whole two seconds couldn't have come up with at least one example from history, the US development of the nuclear bomb being the most obvious of course. $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Mar 10 '19 at 5:12

Yes. That actually happened.

The US government built entire towns when developing the atom bomb. See these references for more:

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    $\begingroup$ Russia also had a list of secret cities - many of which are still closed to non-residents today (the only reason the secret is out is satellites. Hard to hide a city from a satellite). I'd be shocked if China didn't have secret cities and wouldn't be surprised if other countries did, too. $\endgroup$ Mar 10 '19 at 1:19
  • $\begingroup$ China has a few. $\endgroup$ Mar 10 '19 at 7:07
  • $\begingroup$ note the probability of them staying secret for a long time is small though $\endgroup$
    – jk.
    Mar 11 '19 at 14:07

Yes, it's just a matter of how much effort the government is willing to make.

The Soviet Union had many secret research cities.

These were denominated as secret cities, places where the most advanced industries developed and they did not appear on the map of the USSR, because they wanted to hide from the world and the American enemy the military and technological advancements of the nation.

Source Source

In response to the immense challenge of the unfolding East-West arms race, Stalin decided to create dozens of centers of research and development excellence in the USSR. Some of these so-called "Naukograds" [Science Towns] were "Akademgorodok" [Academic Cities} devoted to basic research. Others were secret cities which were to provide the technical foundation for Soviet military technology - sputniks, long-range missiles, thermonuclear warheads of extreme yield. Among the work performed in such places were chemical, biological and nuclear weapons research and manufacturing, enrichment of plutonium, space research, and military intelligence work.


So, if your setting is similar to the modern age, what would the government have to do to keep the city secret?

Who is the government trying to keep the city secret from? Other governments, or just the public at large?

Here are some ideas:

  1. Build a fake factory town around a fake mine entrance, which disguise the transport links and support facilities.

  2. Then build the secret city deep under the mountain range the fake mine entrance opens into. Like, with this thing:

Tunnel Boring Machine Source

  1. Don't put the city on maps, in the postal system, in the phone directory, or anything like that. Have all connections go through a covert facility disguised as a shipping company or a big warehouse facility, which then forwards supplies, mail and telecom to the fake factory town.

  2. Swear everyone who works there to secrecy, and don't let them leave for a number of years.

  3. Have a fake front private security company patrol the area with troops who are really government soldiers in disguise, to detect and stop anyone coming near.


Ok. Let's try to do this.

Since you can't just start in a cornfield, or patch of desert, you need a cover:

Everything you do is going to photographed from a satellite every two weeks at minimum. So you have to do everything in a way that is 'analyst resistant'

So build your city in Detroit. Detroit was dying a few years ago.

Words: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decline_of_Detroit Pix: http://www.detroiturbex.com/content/neighborhoods/index.html

Buy up the places that are still in use. Demolish many buildings. Build underground. Carry out a desultory economic recovery to mask the change.

So build your city in an abandoned town. Uranium City was abandoned and went from a town of 5000 to a town of 500 in 3 weeks, and to 50 in a year when the mine shut down.

So officially close a military base. Or don't close it, and just trade one set of secrets for another.

Have a world's fair. When it closes, it becomes the town.

Take over a destroyed refinery. Rebuild it to look like a refinery, but inside tall towers do your secret work. You can't see oil being pumped in pipes.

Ok. That takes care of the satellite stuff.

You need to mask the activity too. No one will believe part of Detroit is abandoned if there are 50,000 people arriving and departing in rush hours. So you build a subway that handles freight as well as people. Disguise THAT as flood control.

  • $\begingroup$ In Germany, a couple of decades ago, there was a mad scramble when the municipal authorities wanted to see the tax accounts of a fake "forestry business." Nobody told them it was classified. $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Mar 10 '19 at 4:53

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