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Portland, Tennessee (1983: Doomsday)

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Provisional Republic of Portland
Timeline: 1983: Doomsday
Location of Portland
Capital Portland
Largest city Portland
  others English
Mayor Ken Wilber
Population 16,400 (est.) 
Independence 1984
Currency barter (local), Mexican peso
Portland, Tennessee (officially the Provisional Republic of Portland) is a survivor community in the former U.S. state of Tennessee. Its population is approximately 16,400. It was visited by an expedition from the World Census and Reclamation Bureau in October, 2009. Its presence has long been known to a similar group of survivor communities from the Mammoth Cave area and Lake Cumberland areas in former Kentucky; the community has recently become known, through the WCRB and ham radio, to other North American survivor nations.

On November 18, 2009, after much discussion among its civic, law enforcement and community leaders, Portland accepted the offer of the Virginian Republic to militarily secure the middle and eastern portions of former Tennessee. League of Nations peacekeepers and engineers from Mexico will remain in the area to assist Portland and Virginia as requested. "We are, truly, all Americans," mayor Ken Wilber said in a statement released by League of Nations radio.



Portland was a town in Sumner and Robertson counties in the U.S. state of Tennessee, and was a part of the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area. The town was established around a railroad depot of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad's Nashville, Tennessee-to-Bowling Green, Kentucky line. The depot opened October 31, 1859. The community was originally named Richland, but was renamed to Portland in 1888 to prevent confusion with another place in Tennessee that was also called Richland.


The community was shocked when network television broke in with announcements regarding a sudden missile attack from the Soviet Union on September 25, 1983. Panic was prevalent throughout the town, but the mayor and city police managed to maintain order with the help of civilians. The mayor made the same decision believed to have been made in dozens of other American cities; break federal laws mandating all stations shut down in the event of a nuclear attack, except for frequencies authorized to broadcast "official news and emergency". At 7:54pm Central Time, the mayor got to the local radio station and convinced the operators there not to shut down the transmitter as they had been told to do. He took to the air, urged citizens to remain calm and get to shelter immediately.

Some people from the Nashville area had been able to speed up Interstate 65 and pull into nearby Hanleytown for shelter against the anticipated hits on Nashville. Others, from the suburb of Hendersonville, were able to escape into the nearby town of Gallatin. A few people from Nashville and Hendersonville found their way into Portland, literally minutes before the bombs went off.

At 8:21pm Central Time, one bomb, believed to have detonated directly over the Tennessee State Capitol building, all but destroyed downtown Nashville. The winds and other aftereffects from the blast caused severe damage to nearby towns Hendersonville, Gallatin, Springfield and White House and lesser, but significant, damage to Portland and Westmoreland.


Gallatin and Hendersonville leaders, in the two hours after the bomb destroyed Nashville, decided to abandon the areas and head north, away from the immediate Nashville area.

Portland became the center of relief efforts for the region. It was decided to route survivors to Portland, Westmoreland and Franklin, Kentucky.

It had been noted by several people that no flashes or explosions seemed to have occurred in the west, in the area of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, Clarksville, Tennessee and the Fort Campbell military base. An expedition of state police officers went west into the region; four returned, and told while the base had survived, the conditions in the area were "horrible".

Refugees began to pour north from Nashville proper, many of whom suffered too much damage from burns and/or radiation (or both) to survive for very long. Area leaders made a decision that still remains controversial to this day: spare food and resources for those who were healthy, and leave those who would likely die to starve. The edict was opposed immediately by leaders of the area's Protestant and Catholic churches as well as concerned citizens looking to help others in need.

The determination to survive while helping all in need would serve the community well in the coming years. The leaders' edict to limit food to "the healthy", however, would nearly prove to be its undoing.

The Food War

Desperate refugees, suffering from injury and radiation poisoning gathered at the refugee camp set up outside Westmoreland and, in the span of an hour, overcame the guards assigned to oversee them. Seeing no food on the premises, two groups - including National Guardsmen - within the group of instigators then turned on the others, killing them.

The two groups, now led by the former Guardsmen, then made a decision to get food by any means possible - even if it was human. They started with the remains of the camp guards, then quickly went into Westmoreland, attacking homes and shelters and taking the population there by surprise.

Not only did they take any food they could find, they ruthlessly killed whomever and whatever they came across - and used the bodies for more food. They also added guns, rifles and other weapons taken from killed residents to their own cache of National Guard weaponry, giving them the means to defend themselves - and mount offensives against other survivor communities.

Some 2,000 residents and refugees were able to escape and retreat to Portland. The two groups of raiders had combined into one and occupied Westmoreland.

Portland leaders, having come up with contingency plans for uprisings in the days after Doomsday, called for an area draft of all able-bodied people, male and female, led by the Portland and Tennessee State police and loyal National Guardsmen.

In October, what is now called the Battle of Portland was fought. Over 3,000 men and women were killed, including most of the invaders.

Some escaped, and continued random attacks on small groups of people over the next several weeks. Finally, three small groups of snipers were picked off in December; the bodies of 11 more raiders were found outside Westmoreland in February 1984.

By September 1984, between radiation, blast injuries, starvation, violence, cannibalism and suicides, the population of the area, estimated at 145,000 in October 1983, had dwindled to less than 24,000.


Portland leaders decided to confederate as a city-state in the fall of 1984, with provisions to rejoin any "legitimate successor" to the state of Tennessee and the United States.

That, of course, never happened (although one outspoken civic leader is interested in Portland joining the North American Union as the capital of the reconstituted state of Tennessee).

From 1984 to 1990, Portland lost 7,000 more residents to disease and malnutrition, and some 1,000 in what has become known locally as the Cannibal War.

In March 1989, a Westmoreland-area family was murdered by refugees from Fort Campbell and the Nashville areas. This was the first of dozens of such raids over a 10-month period in which the raiders killed people, then consumed them (and their animals) for food. These raiders also were known to dig up and consume remains of those who had recently died.

Some of the raiders were captured in August 1989, and written records by Portland and Westmoreland sheriff's deputies described them as "animalistic" and "intelligent beasts without a conscience". Only two of the known 550 cannibal raiders ever cooperated with Portland law enforcement.

In January 1990, the raiders attacked a safe house containing children, capturing, and killing, 27 children and four adults. The Portland and Westmoreland police forces decided to launch a long-planned surprise-attack offensive against the raiders at night, anticipating the raiders would be asleep and expect any offensive to come at day.

The surprise-attack by the police not only resulted in the end of the raider threat, but also in 200 more civilian and police deaths.

At 3:38 am on January 21, the police advanced into the raiders' camp, shooting to kill on sight. 388 of the raiders died in the initial assault, but 38 fought hard enough to hold back the police assault, and buy time for 122 more raiders to launch their own assault on Westmoreland. The raiders broke through the police barricade and barged into the local high school gym (which had been set up as an emergency shelter for residents before the raid). A total of 185 people, including 17 children and 34 deputies, died at the gym, as well as 30 raiders; the surviving deputies and civilians retreated to a nearby factory, where they held their ground. Police returning from the raiders' camp, as well as reinforcements from nearby Portland, put the enemy in a pincer. The battle lasted into the evening, and by midnight eight more deputies and seven civilians were found dead, as were the remaining 92 raiders.

With the last known threat eliminated, and Westmoreland nearly depopulated, Portland and Westmoreland officials decided to consolidate everyone into the Portland area. Westmoreland was salvaged of every possible useful material, and a census in 1992 counted 16,109 people.

As in some other areas of the former U.S., the next 17 years were largely uneventful, with the notable exceptions of the discovery of survivor communities near Cave City and Lake Cumberland, Kentucky. Ties and trade were established with the two communities.

Modern day

Among the people who survived were engineers and technicians who had worked at Nashville and Hendersonville-area radio stations, telephone companies and power plants. Once the local situation stabilized, their knowledge was put to use. The issue, though, was finding material to rebuild and/or restart power plants and working radios. The projects - centered on restarting the local power plant in Portland, and building some type of two-way radio - began in 1992.

The two projects that the engineers had been working on for years finally came to fruition in July: the restarting of the power plant, and building a ham radio from scratch.

The radio had to be hardwired into the plant directly, but it was operational.

In August, the locals were surprised to see two visitors, both Latin, come into the community from the south. After a short period of misunderstanding and questions on the part of the locals as to whether this constituted some type of invasion, the true nature of the visitors' intent was discovered: they were scouts from the World Census and Reclamation Bureau, exploring the southern United States. WCRB scouts were camped north of former Nashville, and the two men, one Cuban and one Brazilian, had discovered Portland by chance. The scouts informed the Portlanders of the known status of the world, including the U.S. since 1983; the locals were saddened that the United States government had ceased to exist 14 years before, but that not only had Vice President Bush and millions of Americans survived in Australia, Mexico and other countries, but millions more survived in the western and northern U.S.

The region was recognized on October 30 by the League of Nations as the Provisional Republic of Portland.

Contact was since made with representatives of the Virginian Republic and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Civic leaders, mindful of the LoN's awareness of the area and the military power of Kentucky and Virginia, asked for time to consider proposal from both nations to join in some sort of economic and political union, or for LoN aid in becoming a separate country. There were factions in leadership who wanted Portland to declare itself the capital of the nation of Tennessee; other factions noted that Kentucky and/or Virginia could thwart that at will, and that any such declaration has to keep in mind the wishes of the town of Morristown in eastern Tennessee.

On November 13, as civic leaders debated their options, Portland made public to ham operators in Vermont, Superior, Virginia and Kentucky its concerns and wishes for relations with other area nations:

  1. It desires to cooperate with other former American nation-states, by union or treaty, in economic, cultural, trade and political matters.
  2. It desires, on behalf of its people, in whatever political union it finds itself in to be part of one that reflected in word and deed the traditional values and freedoms espoused by the United States of America.
  3. Portland is open to self-independence; union with Kentucky; union with Virginia; union with other survivor communities in the former state of Tennessee, as an independent nation of Tennessee; union with other survivor communities in the mid-south and southeast U.S.; or union with a reconstituted United States of America (this is a reference to the U.S. provisional government that is a member of the North American Union). It is acknowledged that self-independence is the least attractive option and that rejoining the United States is unlikely at best. It is also acknowledged that Morristown in east Tennessee may wish for political union with Virginia and/or Asheville in a reconstituted North Carolina, and any reconstitution of Tennessee must consider Morristown's wishes.
  4. Whatever Portland does, needs to be done with much thought and consideration as to which course is the best for its future, as this is the most important decision apart from the declaration of self-government after Doomsday that city leaders have ever made.
  5. Portland is open now to diplomatic relations with all North American states, under the ongoing supervision of the League of Nations.
  6. Portland thanks the League of Nations, Kentucky and Virginia for their willingness to serve and help Portland and other similar surviving communities in the former United States.

Portland accepted Virginian offer of military aid on November 16. It expects to work with Virginian troops and League of Nations peacekeepers on securing middle Tennessee as well as exploring and securing western Tennessee.


People in Portland - as did many other survivor communities across the former U.S. - lived at a 19th-century standard of living for many years after Doomsday.

The locals tried to keep as many local traditions as possible, one being the continuation of country music. Although Nashville's famous Music City Row had been destroyed along with the rest of the city, a number of recording artists and session players and some executives managed to get out of nearby Hendersonville and Nashville proper. Some of them survived the chaotic early years post-Doomsday and helped lead a rebirth of country music in the region, developing younger singers and players who performed in their spare time. One group of artists informally calls itself "The Men in Black" after their mentor, legendary country artist Johnny Cash.

Tentative plans to rewire all local buildings and homes for electricity have been drawn up; civic leaders are awaiting word from the League of Nations on when any such project would begin.

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