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The government has so much underground that it misplaced Wright Brothers’ patent

The National Archives and Records Administration has more storage space than any other occupant at Meritex Executive Park below Lenexa. But it’s all off-limits to the public.
The National Archives and Records Administration has more storage space than any other occupant at Meritex Executive Park below Lenexa. But it’s all off-limits to the public. rmontgomery@kcstar.com

The largest user of this region’s subterranean is your federal government.

And they don’t want you coming in.

Probably for excellent reasons.

Some of the artifacts might draw a crowd: A Lenexa cavern stores equipment from the Dallas emergency room where President John Kennedy was declared dead. But most of the what the National Archives and Records Administration, or NARA, seeks to protect from above-ground hazards (and grubby hands) are paper documents, microfilm, microfiche and now digital cloud data.

Federal files consume millions of square feet below Kansas City, Lenexa and Lee’s Summit, partly to avoid the off-and-on dampness that can pucker up papers and degrade celluloid film. Electronic data, too, may be threatened by fluctuating conditions or a natural disaster.

The underground climate is tightly controlled, and so are the rules.

“They’re not open to the public,” said Miriam Kleiman of NARA’s communications staff in Washington.

The public includes news media.

The Star for this project tried four times to cajole Uncle Sam into allowing a writer and photographer into one of his underground lockers.

No, four times.

Maybe just an overly cautious bureaucracy (under a new president not so fond of the media?).

Then again, being super-protective of historic records is hard to knock. You’re free to peruse records available for research at the National Archives regional headquarters on Pershing Road downtown, but storage is off limits.

Even then materials can get misplaced by staff.

Last year, an archivist named Bob Beebe, of DeSoto, discovered in a 15-foot high stack of documents some sheets missing since 1980 — the 1903 patent for the Wright Brothers’ revolutionary “flying machine.”

“Unfortunately, with billions of pieces of paper, things sometimes go where they shouldn’t be,” said NARA chief operating officer William J. Bosanko.

From Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, the government reportedly acquired in the late 1960s a gurney, clock and other items remotely related to the president’s death. The Kennedy family wants no pictures, no public display and no way for such items to become souvenirs on the open market.

So they just sit in a locker.

It’s this type of thing, coupled with the archives’ strict rules, that gets conspiracy theorists spreading ominous tales about the caves around Kansas City.

In 2012, former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura checked out the caves under Springfield — a sprawling underground complex similar to Hunt Midwest’s SubTropolis — for his cable TV seried “Conspiracy Theory.” He was with a crew that included Sean Stone, the son of film director Oliver Stone.

The theory here is that the space is being reserved for the world’s most powerful elites, including whoever might be the U.S. president, when they decide to make war to form a one-world rule.

Ventura: “The road literally goes on for miles. Look there! It’s branching off again ... maybe to the Huff house.”

He’s referring to Pensmore, built of concrete by scientist Steven Huff outside Ozark. It’s one of the largest homes in America, designed even to survive a missile strike, the owner has boasted.

See, the Missouri caves all link together so sinister people can survive an attack on the masses.

Possible? Doubtful.

Rick Montgomery: 816-234-4410, @rmontgomery_r

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