Sunday, November 8, 2015

President Nixon at Camp David

President Nixon looks out the window from inside the Aspen Lodge - Nov 22, 1972 (Nixon Library)

One of President Nixon's most notable contributions to Camp David is the swimming pool outside the Aspen Lodge. The existing swimming pool, which was built in the FDR era, was located on the other side of the retreat near the staff area. President Nixon wanted a new pool located in front of the Aspen terrace. This also happened to be the location of the underground bomb shelter which then had to be reinforced for an additional cost of $260K. The new pool cost around $240K, partly because the design called for matching the stone from the Aspen Lodge terrace, which required reopening the nearby quarry. The 40ft x 20ft pool was superheated so it could be used by President Nixon during the winter.

President Nixon added this swimming pool to Camp David 


President Nixon visited Camp David frequently and held many high-level meetings there. "I find that up there on top of the mountain, it is easier for me to get on top of the job" he once told reporters. Nixon visited the presidential retreat over 150 times. You can read about the details of his trips to Camp David in the Nixon Daily Diaries.

Under a 1970 master plan for Camp David, most of the FDR-era cabins were replaced and a new Laurel Lodge was built, which included a presidential office. A study was added to the Aspen Lodge and the screened porch was converted to a dining room. The Aspen bomb shelter was also redecorated with new beds, paint and furnishings.

President Nixon meets with his economic advisers in Augsut 1971 


President and First Lady Pat Nixon in Aspen Lodge at Christmas time in 1971 (Nixon Library)


Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, President Nixon, Maj. Gen. Alexander M. Haig Jr. discuss the Vietnam situation - 11/13/72

Nixon seated with Deputy Secy of Defense William P. Clements, Jr. in Aspen Lodge. 11/22/72 

President Nixon meets with his UN Ambassador George H.W. Bush in the Aspen Lodge in 1972


Nixon wearing his leather Camp David Jacket 12/11/71;    Nixon at Camp David 8/18/72  (White House photos)


In 1973, President Nixon invited Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev to Camp David as part of his first visit to the United States. Nixon gave the Soviet leader a 1973 Lincoln Continental as a welcome gift. According to Nixon's memoirs:

"He got behind the wheel and motioned me into the passenger seat. The head of my Secret Service detail went pale as I climbed in and we took off down one of the narrow roads that run around the perimeter of Camp David.... At one point there is a very steep slope with a sign at the top reading, 'Slow, dangerous curve'.... Brezhnev was driving more than 50 miles an hour as we approached the slope. I reached over and said, 'Slow down, slow down,' but he paid no attention. When we reached the bottom there was a squeal of rubber as he slammed on the breaks and made the turn.... 'You are an excellent driver,' I replied. 'I would never have been able to make that turn at the speed at which we were traveling.'" 
 View a short video clip of this event.

President Nixon with Soviet President Brezhnev next to the Aspen pond in June 1973


President Nixon presents Leonid Brezhnev with a 1973 Lincoln Continental in front of the Laurel Lodge



Former First Lady Mamie Eisenhower celebrates her 77th birthday at Camp David in the Aspen Lodge with Julie Nixon Eisenhower, David Eisenhower, and the President and First Lady - 11/10/73 (AP photo)



Sources:

Nixon Presidential Library; Richard Nixon Foundation; White House; Clements Papers Project; AP; Nixonomics; National Archives; The President is at Camp David (W. Dale Nelson)