Simi Valley, California

Ronald Reagan Library and Museum

Ronald Reagan on his last day in office in 1989. This museum and library houses millions of documents and records from his time as President and many fascinating exhibits. It was funded by private donors to the tune of many tens of millions of dollars. All American Presidents have large libraries and museums housing their records and artifacts, but the Reagan facility is the largest. All photos here excluding the 1989 photo above, were taken by me during my visit.

Set in “Reagan Country” near the spot where his famous horseriding ranch was, these are the tranquil Simi Valley Hills where Reagan is memorialised.

The replica oval office with original furniture from Reagan’s oval office. Each new President redecorates the oval office when they move in. I know I promised a photo of me sitting behind the desk, this was not permitted but I will be visiting another replica oval office in Washington DC where this is allowed so wait for that one. When I took this photo I accidentally used the flash on my camera. No flash photography is allowed. I was glared at by dozens of American visitors and given a stern talking to by the museum staff. I apologised and double checked the flash was off every other photo I took. They say camera flashes fade the rug. Each new President has a giant hand made rug produced for him that covers most of the floor.

The Reagan library contains many fascinating documents. Here we have a nuclear weapons disarmament treaty signed by Reagan and Gorbechev.

A large piece of the Berlin Wall. Reagan famously demanded in a speech “Mr. Gorbechev… tear down this wall!”.

Pieces of Eight encrusted in coral, almost 400 years old, from the real Pirates of the Carribean era. Given as a gift to Reagan by a visiting head of state.

I wanted to see if there would be any mention of the controversies and scandals of the Reagan presidency at the museum. This small plaque is the only mention of the Iran Contra scandal.

Presidential limo. The glass is so thick it looks like glass tiles from a house. Bulletproof glass is one thing but Reagan was shot in 1981 while approaching his limo to get in it.

This is one car door where you don’t have to worry about getting dents in the door from the supermarket car park. Very shiny. I wonder if they use Maguiars wax.

Win one for the Gipper.

Everyone who knows me well knows I like the look of a clean and shiny car with a couple of coats of wax on it. Here we have a shot of one very shiny Reagan era Air Force One.

This is no ordinary aircraft hangar. This is a purpose built pavillion for Air Force One with massive windows that overlook onto the endless plains and hills of Reagan country. This area was recently used for a televised Presidential candidate debate.

Air Force One in the background, Presidential helicopter Marine One in the foreground. This helicopter has a toilet on board.

The pavillion is comprised of three floors. The plane is in immaculate condition.

The red carpet walkway up to the same door that presidents exit the plane and give a presidential wave. Photography is not permitted inside the cabin but I walked through the plane and it was awesome. It has an 80s corporate jet kind of feel with lots of 1980s computers and so on, digital clocks that show the time in Washington and Moscow, and all leather seats everywhere. I got a sense of what those long haul flights on here would have been like.

In the Air Force One cabin I saw the famous nuclear ‘football’‘, the briefcase that contained the nuclear launch codes. It struck me that at the height of the cold war, if Soviet Russia and the United States did start a nuclear war, this flying White House would have been one of the only safe places on Earth. A scenario ran through my head where tens of thousands of nuclear warheads had hit all the major cities in the world, and this thing remains flying 40,000 feet above all the destruction. This is a serious aircraft with some serious history behind it.

A handwritten note from Margaret Thatcher written to him upon his death in 2004, it is very rare to see anything from Thatcher from recent years.

A handwritten note from Queen Elizabeth to Nancy Reagan from some flowers sent for Reagan’s funeral.

A marble presidential seal from the rear of Reagan’s grave.

Ronald Reagan’s grave. He lived 1911-2004. This year is his centenary. This tomb has meters of concrete protecting it underground, and an already prepared five feet high shaft with rail tracks so that Nancy Reagan’s casket can be placed next to his when the time comes. Starting to sound like an Egyptian Pharoah type of tomb isn’t it? A very nice place to be buried, rolling hills see all the way to the Pacific, and so Reagan’s tomb looks out over Reagan country.

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All in all, a fascinating place to visit. The Americans truly do build giant monuments to their presidents and it is the closest thing you wil find in the modern world to what they did in ancient Egypt. Worth seeing just for the spectacle of it and the interesting cold war history.

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About ryaninseries

Ryan in America travel blog 2011-2012
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