Atop one large foothill deep in the Carolina woods lies a most unlikely site: a castle, replete with a drawbridge, portcullis — and an underground bunker. The castle is the handiwork of a family aiming to protect itself from an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), which they think could take out electricity grids. The family is pictured here (from left to right): Brent II, Lindsey, Brent, Michael, Ashley, Dawn-Marie. They are the focus of a new show on the National Geographic Channel called "Doomsday Castle," which premiers at 10 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Aug. 13. [Meet the Family Who Built a Castle to Survive Doomsday]
A family portrait within the bunker, beneath the castle. Family members aren't disclosing their last name or location for fear of curious and/or hostile fans showing up on their castle step. They have enough food stored to last them more than one year. Although they assume that the castle's location will eventually get out, they said it's worth it if it spreads the impression that "prepping can be cool," Brent II said. [Meet the Family Who Built a Castle to Survive Doomsday]
Ready, aim ...
Ashley firing an AR-15, while her father Brent and siblings Lindsey and Michael look on. The family has prepared to defend themselves if marauders attacked the castle. They estimate that if the economy collapses, fighting could spread to the countryside within months, as desperate people go looking for food. [Meet the Family Who Built a Castle to Survive Doomsday]
Bunker, beds, guns
A view of the men's bedroom in the bunker beneath the Doomsday Castle. Notice the handgun and automatic rifle on the bedside table. The family stayed there for four months while filming the show, during which time they made many improvements to the structure. Still, they do not live there year-round, although they are prepared to do so if need be. [Meet the Family Who Built a Castle to Survive Doomsday]
Dawn-Marie and Michael are actually twins, and both very enthusiastic about helping their father, Brent, with preparations for the end times. Here they are preparing to take a zip-line off the top of the castle. They've built this as a precaution in case the premises are stormed and they need to escape. They've also trained themselves to rappel down the side of the structure if need be. [Meet the Family Who Built a Castle to Survive Doomsday]
Brent stands next to his 1974 Chevy blazer that runs on propane. To run after an EMP event, cars have to be pre-1975, Brent said. That's because in 1975 cars began being outfitted with microchips, which can be disabled by an EMP or enormous solar flare. He has changed it to run on propane so that it could still work if gas stations can't be refilled in the event of an emergency. [Meet the Family Who Built a Castle to Survive Doomsday]
Dawn-Marie readies herself to fire a bow and arrow. Several members of the family have trained to use guns as well as bows and crossbows. The family will use the weapons for defense but also to hunt animals for food. They recently caught a large wild boar that provided enough food for weeks. They also caught a snake, whose skin hangs next to the castle's enormous fire place in the main hall.
Live Science newsletter
Stay up to date on the latest science news by signing up for our Essentials newsletter.