Whether you agree or disagree with prepping, there’s something absolutely fascinating about building a huge medieval-style castle on top of a mountain. The family has picked a very strategic location for their fortress – it’s only accessible by four-wheeled drive vehicles with one way in and one way out, and they have the high-ground vantage point from every angle of the mountain. With their series of booby traps (more on that in a bit) and a simple, but effective, alarm system, there’s really no way someone can approach the castle without them knowing about it first.
Brent Sr. has been working on the castle since 1999 (he was concerned about Y2K) and just finished putting the roof on a few months ago. It stands 34 feet tall with all the walls made of cinder block filled (not capped) with rebar and concrete. With over 6,000 square feet of living space – not including the 30,000 gallon fuel tank converted into storage space buried under the castle – there’s more than enough room for Brent Sr., his children, grandchildren and even a few friends to survive the roughest of times. For now, the family resides in two bedrooms, a dining area, a living space and one bathroom.
The castle has its own sustainable garden, which the family maintains with the help of survival garden expert Rick Austin. They use it to grow food as a means to replenish/supplement their food stocks of MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) – of which they have several years supply. The mountains surrounding the castle are filled with plenty of deer, rabbits and rattlesnake (yes, you can eat rattlesnake) as well. Not only can the pelts of the animals be tanned for various uses, but the meat is a welcome relief from eating pasta out of a bag.
The family is all about finding new uses for old items, so they’ve built a smoker from an old oven (which actually works surprisingly well), a food dehydrator from an old wooden greenhouse and a chicken coop (for eggs and meat) from Dawn-Marie’s childhood dresser.
They can slow roast all that meat in one of two large roasting pits in the castle. They also have a functioning kitchen in the living quarters. Though the family doesn’t have much, if any, access to ice, they do have a plentiful supply of water on hand from various sources – rain collection and solar-powered wells. The water runs through several filtration systems and is stored in a 500 gallon tank underground – giving the family ample water for drinking, cooking and showering.
WEAPONS & PROTECTION
It would be silly to build a castle and not fortify it from intruder attacks. To that end, the castle has several advance warning systems set up throughout the winding drive leading to it and it multiple areas of the surrounding woods – sneaking up on the family isn’t going to be as easy as you might think. That’s just the first line of defense for them though. If somehow an attacker does manage to make their way up the mountain without tripping the warning system, then they’ll have to deal with the multitude of booby traps dotting the mountain side.
The traps range from disorienting to maiming to deadly and if they don’t kill the attacker, then they’ll definitely slow them down. Assuming the attacker is still foolish enough to advance on the castle, the family literally has the high ground with shooting positions atop the castle behind the classic crenelations running the perimeter of the roof.
Even if attackers make it to the castle, they’ll still have to cross the fire moat (still being built as of this writing) and breach the steel-reinforced drawbridge just to enter. If they somehow manage to do both, then the family can drop the heavy, steel portcullis and attack through the murder holes on either side. Murder holes are holes cut into the roof above the entrance where defenders can pour scalding water, hot oil, fire guns or drop explosives onto the attackers.
To go along with their barrage of bullets and booby traps the family also has a trebuchet at their disposal, built by Brent, Sr. and Dawn-Marie. Personally, I would have built a ballista (a giant siege weapon that fires either large bolts or a multitude of arrows) as a last line of siege defense but their trebuchet is impressive – flinging projectiles with great force and distance.
If all else fails and invaders do find a way to overtake the castle, the family has several ways to “bug out” or escape. They can either quickly rappel down the side of the 34 foot walls or zip line to safety some 100 yards away to an outpost they have built in the woods. From there they can all rendezvous at a predetermined location.
Honestly, I went to visit the castle with every bit of skepticism I could muster – I even considered wearing a tinfoil hat on the tour – but after spending a few hours talking with the family, they’ve changed my attitude about prepping. Now, I’m not going to start building a castle in some remote location of the United States but living in Florida – hurricane central – I realize that I’m woefully unprepared for when a natural disaster does affect me. There’s nothing crazy about setting aside some food, water, money and other necessary supplies in case everything around me starts falling apart.
My final thoughts about Doomsday Castle as a show: It’s a solid, if slightly cheesy, spinoff for NatGeo that follows an interesting and genuine family while they do something other people think is crazy – prepare for an unknown disaster. I know I’ll be watching each week to see what’s in store for them.
Doomsday Castle airs on the National Geographic Channel Tuesdays at 10/9 Central.
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