Roscoe Bartlett, one of the longest serving Congressmen in history, has ditched his suit and tie and opted for an off grid existence. The former Maryland Representative is now living somewhere in the vast wilderness and mountains of West Virginia, far from the stresses of the Washington, DC, beltway. The octogenarian lost his final run at office in 2012, and started doing consulting work for the defense industry part-time – a job that only rarely requires a jaunt into the big city. He lost his seat in 2012 after the Maryland Democrat altered his rural district into the Washington suburbs and Montgomery County, and reportedly left him vulnerable to defeat. He first was elected in 1992.
The 87-year-old former Maryland Congressman is now living the type of self-sufficient and self-reliant lifestyle that many of his peers herald, but do not put into practice. The Roscoe Bartlett compound in the heart of Appalachia generates its own electricity, water and food. Instead of being connected to the world via cell phones, fax machines and expensive government computers, Bartlett utilizes only a simple country road to conduct his business. He generates electricity via solar and wind power. During an interview with the Washington Examiner, the retired representative said all Americans have a “patriotic duty” to maintain a self-sufficient lifestyle.
“If everyone is dependent on the government and the government isn’t able to take care of you, it’s going to be rather chaotic,” Bartlett, 87 said. “I don’t chase women, I don’t play golf. For 32 years, we’ve been coming down here … beyond the grid. If I look up, and there are still contrails in the sky, all is well.” Jets that occasionally fly over the property are the only tangible evidence Bartlett routinely witnesses to alert him that the outside world is still motoring on. The former Maryland Congressman’s home is so remote, it does not even have a written address – visitors are basically told to go up the mountain and turn right.
Roscoe Bartlett proves that living off the grid is not just a young man’s game. Even though he is pushing 90, he still engages in manual labor around his property for about 10 to 12 hours every day. Adorned in blue overalls, the former congressman can be seen lugging huge batteries to a truck, or working on hole-digging with his trusty shovel. The former construction company owner is currently completing a log cabin building project – the fifth such lakeside structure he erected on the land. Bartlett dug the one-acre lake by himself.
Bartlett’s vegetarian lifestyle negates the need to raise livestock at his West Virginia off grid home, but he does grow a host of crops. The self-reliant senior citizen is quite proud of his organic potatoes, squash, spinach, and zucchini. During his time in Congress, the Maryland politician often pushed for more attention to be paid to electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threats to the power grid, and expressed concern about solar storm dangers, and oil-related issues. From 1995 to 1999, he held a multitude of congressional hearings on the topic of EMP threats.
The former Maryland Congressman explained the importance of protecting the power grid from an EMP attack like this:
“The more sophisticated we become, the more vulnerable we are. There’s a huge concern about cyber-attacks on the grid. Well, a really robust nuclear EMP lay-down means microelectronics across the country would be shut down and you have no power.There’s one event that we will not avoid, and that is a solar electromagnetic interference, solar storm. If we have a big one like the one that occurred back in 1859, that would shut down the whole grid for quite a long while. It would cost about $100 million to protect much of the grid, but if the grid went down, it would cost us between $1 trillion and $2 trillion in damages, and the loss of life could be horrendous if in fact you were without electricity for months at a time.”
Roscoe Bartlett earned a doctorate in physiology degree and eventually taught at the Howard University College of Medicine. He also worked for IBM and the Navy Applied Physics lab.The former congressman hold 19 military patents, some of which relate to the life-saving rebreathers used by firefighters and Navy Special Operations Forces.
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