Did You Know: The Mountain Vault Stores Data In A Mountain

By Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez
Published: Friday, January 8, 2016 - 4:45pm
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(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)
The Mountain Vault storage facility in Phoenix.
(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)
The Mountain Vault sits adjacent to the Phoenix Mountain Preserve near Thunderbird and Cave Creek roads.
(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)
The Phoenix Mountain Preserve surrounds the Mountain Vault storage.
(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)
The entrance to the Mountain Vault storage off Cave Creek Road.

You’ve probably driven past it and never paid attention to the place. It’s been around for several decades … and it’s actually one of the rarest in the country.

Near the Phoenix Mountain Preserve around Thunderbird and Cave Creek roads is a mountain with a facility inside. The place is called the Mountain Vault. It’s a storage facility that’s been warehousing computer data since the 1980s. Did You Know … the Mountain Vault is the only one of its kind in the state?

“We’re the only facility in Arizona and in the western United States built inside a mountain,” said Joe Pruess, the owner of the company. “It is pre-stressed concrete on all six sides, encased in a rubber envelope so it doesn’t leak and mountain on top of it.”

The 2,000 square-foot space was built in 1982. Pruess said the original owner came up with the mountain vault concept of a storage space for personal items and computer data backup. He purchased the land, excavated the site, built the building and covered it back up.

People brought 8-tracks, reels and floppy discs.

"That’s how they started. And a lot of it was boxed data.”

In a corner, away from the gate are several shelves with numerically organized computer data tapes, memory drives, and boxes with other equipment are all stacked high.

“Most of these are large corporations that did a lot of computer backup. It could be any type of firm.”

Pruess said computer data storage has lessened over the years, but there are some companies that still depend on the vault to store their information.

“We have a lot of customers, surprisingly, that use the cloud now-a-days, still use us for back-up storage. They’ll do both.”

Mountain Vault is a place that also stores items like paintings and gold. As a matter of fact, remember the savings and loan scandal of the 1980s and '90s? Pruess said an institution had an undisclosed number of gold bars stored here to secure its loan. He said when it defaulted, Arizona officials came to review the collateral. Well, they became suspicious of the bars and drilled holes into each one and found they were all fake. The fake gold bars still sit in the vault.

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