Have you ever bought your own house? If you have, you’ll know that you soon learn everything there is to know about the property. However, that doesn’t mean that some secrets don’t lay hidden for decades…
Buying a house
Although it’s not every day you buy a house, these transactions normally take place with few complications. As long as you can afford the property and the paperwork is all in order, there should be nothing stopping you from calling a house your own.
When John Sims bought a new house in Tucson, Arizona, he was able to do so without any problems of any kind.
The money exchanged hands, the paperwork was filed, and he finally got the chance to collect the keys. However, he soon learned something about the house that made him a little uneasy. Determined to uncover the rumored secrets, John uncovered his backyard in the process.
What made John’s property buying venture even easier was the fact that he was buying the house from a friend.
So, he knew the person who lived there before him, and he was familiar with the property and its outside area.
Because of this, he just assumed that his friend would keep him updated on anything weird or wonderful about the house – but he didn’t. Believing the house to be in full working order, John was happy for the house to exchange hands and officially be in his name. That was until his friend decided to let him know that there were some rumors floating around about his new backyard…
In his backyard
John’s friend noted that there was supposedly something lurking beneath the grass in his backyard, and the new homeowner just didn’t know what to make of the situation. Why had his friend only just told him about this?
Well, the friend didn’t seem to think that the rumors were anything to worry about, which is why he decided to leave the potential secret buried beneath the ground.
However, as much as John tried to forget the fact that there could be something hiding beneath the ground on his property, he just couldn’t seem to get the thought out of his mind. In the end, he knew he had to find out once and for all whether the rumors were true.
Whatever it took
When John realized that he had to get to the bottom of the secret, he told himself that he would do whatever it took to ensure that he uncovered what was underneath his backyard.
However, he knew that it wouldn’t be easy. While he did have his own shovel to hand, his backyard was not small.
A large area was covered with grass, and he just didn’t know if he had the tools to excavate the whole thing and see what was lurking. To make matters worse, he also had to run the risk of ruining his backyard for no reason. He didn’t know for sure whether there was something buried under the ground, so was it really worth it?
Taking the plunge
John was so wrapped up in the idea that there was something underneath his backyard that he just couldn’t forget about it.
While he knew that he could be greeted with nothing after digging up the grass on his property, he also knew that he could be the one to uncover a secret that had been buried for goodness knows how long.
He just couldn’t stand the thought of missing out on a discovery, so he took the plunge and decided that he had to go ahead with his plan. He would dig up his yard, and then he would fill them in afterward. It was the only way for him to get some answers.
Despite the fact that John was committed to uncovering the secrets underneath his backyard, he decided to put his plan into action at the wrong time.
It was the height of summer in Tucson, and the temperature was heating up as the hours went by.
He knew that it was dangerous for him to work in triple figures, but he also knew that he couldn’t give up. He had a plan in his mind, he knew exactly what he wanted to do, and he was going to go ahead and do it. So, he decided just to start digging and hope that his hard work would pay off in the end.
Starting to dig
Although John had a plan to dig his backyard, he had no idea where to dig or how deep. Because of this, he just started to dig in the hopes that he would land on the secret and uncover the mystery.
However, by the time he had dug four huge holes in his backyard, he had completely ruined the grass and not found anything of note.
He began to suspect that the rumors surrounding his backyard were just rumors, and he started to wonder whether he had put all of his work into nothing. He was losing hope, and he had also lost a huge amount of time and energy in the process as well.
A brand new idea
John was extremely discouraged to discover that there was nothing hidden in the holes that he had already dug, and this caused him to stop his plan and put his thinking cap back on.
He knew that there must have been another way to see what was beneath the ground without actually pulling his backyard up, and he soon realized what that was.
After a little online research, the homeowner made his way to where the municipal records were stores in Tucson and scoured the shelves until he came across the information he needed about his own house. As he looked at the paper in front of him, he came across some clues that hinted towards the supposed secrets.
Applying for a permit
As John scoured his eyes across the paperwork relating to his house, he came across certain nuggets of information that weren’t a secret to him.
He already knew when the property was built, and he was pretty familiar with the layout of the house in general.
However, what he wasn’t familiar with was the fact that a construction permit had been filed back in 1961. Fifty years before John had moved into his new house, a company by the name of Whitaker Pools had applied to the local governing body to do some construction work. However, this confused John. He didn’t have a pool, so what was the permit for?
A helping hand
With more information under his belt, John felt more inspired than ever to put his plan back into action and uncover what Whitaker Pools had built below ground five decades previously.
Yet, he knew that he wouldn’t be able to undertake this plan alone, and certainly not without the help of proper tools.
John was determined to get to the bottom of his questions, which is why he chose to hire a team of consultants who would be able to help him along the way. These consultants didn’t come along, however. They also brought various tools and machines with them, such as metal detectors.
With others to help him and proper searching equipment, John hoped that he would soon be able to get even closer to uncovering the secrets.
After all, he had a proper plan in place, and he had other people and tools to allow him to cover even more ground in his backyard.
However, his excitement soon waned when the metal detectors continued to remain silent no matter how much ground they covered. John once again began to wonder whether he had just got overexcited over nothing and whether the rumors were simply rumors. There was no hint of anything below the surface, so was anything really there?
An incredible sound
Thankfully, there was light at the end of the tunnel for John. Before he knew it, the incredible sound of the metal detector was making it through the air, and it was music to his ears.
The metal detectors had finally found not one, but two different locations of note…
So the team immediately marked these areas on the ground and took a break before making their way into the next stage of their plan. John was over the moon to finally have something to work with, and he finally felt as though he had made progress in his efforts to uncover the lost secrets of his property.
Focusing his attention
With the detected spots mapped out, John could once again grab his tools and start digging in his backyard.
He didn’t have to worry about digging up grass that didn’t need to be dug up, because he could follow the sound of the metal detector instead.
He could focus his attention on these specific areas, and he could pinpoint where he needed to investigate further. Amazingly, this wasn’t the end of his good news. After just a few hefty digs into the ground, John heard the telltale sound of a shovel hitting metal. He had hit something, which meant that the metal detectors had done their job…
Hitting the metal
John had dug about three feet into the ground when he heard the clang of metal on metal, and although he was excited, he was also a little dubious.
John knew enough about properties and construction to know that most homes come complete with metal pipes and septic tanks, and he began to wonder whether this was what he had come across.
Stumbling across a septic tank wouldn’t have given him the chance to uncover the secret lying beneath his home, and would have been a real anticlimax after such a stressful ordeal. As if that wasn’t enough, most people know that breaking a pipe under the ground never works out well.
Not what he thought
Taking extra care as he did, John decided to dig even further down into the ground to try and uncover the metal structure beneath the surface.
Thankfully, the object was not what he thought at all! He didn’t have to worry about getting up close and personal with a septic tank, and he didn’t have to worry about breaking anything that would ultimately affect his house.
As he tried to get a closer glimpse of what really lay under the ground, he used his shovel to try and move away some of the dirt. By doing this, he would uncover a mystery that would invite even more questions.
A large structure
Before too long, John was able to take a long, hard look at the thing that lay in front of him – and he was able to category reject the idea he once had.
It wasn’t a septic tank at all, but rather a solid structure that made its way down into the ground.
The more he looked at the scene in front of him, the more he realized that he was looking at something that seemed to be more like an entryway than anything else. It looked like a portal to another dimension, and he just couldn’t work out why something like it would be in his backyard. Where did the entrance lead?
Getting closer and closer
John couldn’t believe that his backyard was home to something that was so strange, and unlike anything he had seen before.
He knew that he was getting closer and closer to working out the secret to his backyard, but he also knew that he was still extremely far away from uncovering the mystery once and for all.
As John cleared away the debris from the portal-like structure, he realized that he was actually looking at a hatch. The metal structure was a lid, and he wanted nothing more than to open the lid up and see what was inside. However, pulling the metal away wasn’t easy, and it took him and his team many attempts to lift it up.
Waiting to see
After working as a fire department captain for many years, John knew better than to get too close to the opening below the metal lid. Although he was determined to uncover the secrets of his backyard, he wanted to do so safely.
So, he knew that he would have to wait at least a day to look deep into the object and get closer to it.
That’s because he wanted to not only make sure that any toxic fumes had been expelled before inhaling any of them, but he also wanted to make sure that he had people around him to maintain his own personal safety. The last thing he wanted was to get trapped down the portal-like structure.
Moment of truth
John waited a day and finally deemed it safe for him to take a closer look at the structure.
It must have been incredibly hard for him to stop his curiosity from getting the better of him, but the moment of truth finally came a day later.
He couldn’t wait to see what was inside of the hatch, and he couldn’t wait to see whether this structure held the secret he had been searching for weeks. He transformed himself into an explorer and looked into the belly of the object. He looked straight down into the hole in the ground and came across a sight that made him instantly frown in confusion.
A collection of blades
As the homeowner looked down into the hole, he was surprised to see that almost all of it had been taken up by a collection of what looked like blades.
John had no idea what they were doing in a hole in his backyard, and he had no idea what to make of the situation as a whole.
Why were they under his property? What purpose did they serve? However, as his eyes adjusted to the darkness and took in what was really underneath his grass, he realized that the blades weren’t blades at all. Instead, they were the steps of a spiral staircase snaking down further into the hole.
If he didn’t have his fire department training under his belt, John would have raced down the spiral staircase to see what was at the bottom as soon as she saw that it was a staircase.
However, he stopped himself from doing this because he knew it just wasn’t safe.
He was so close to the secret, but he had to make sure that the area and the hole were safe before he could go down further. He knew that there were just too many risks involved if he were to make his way down these 50-year-old stairs, and he just didn’t want to take these risks.
An unstable structure
More than anything, John was concerned about the stability of the staircase.
If this was the structure that Whitakers Pools had built in 1961, he didn’t know whether it would have stood the test of time and remained as strong as it once was.
There was a high chance that the stairs would collapse under his weight, and he knew that he had to take extra measures to make sure this didn’t happen. Alongside this, John also wanted to make sure that his other team members were around when he made his way down the steps, to ensure that he didn’t get stuck down there.
Playing it safe
In the end, John knew that he would have to play his plan safe.
He needed to ensure that the structure was as safe as could be, and he knew that he had to give it time before he could finally make his way down the steps.
While he was itching to see what lay at the bottom of the stays, safety was more important to him than anything else – and he was going to abide by the safety rules he adhered to over the course of his career. He put another plan into action to make the area as safe as could be, and he decided to document the whole thing on camera.
Reinforcing the structure
Because John and his team were unaware of the structure and its solidity, they decided to reinforce it to the best of their abilities to make sure that it was as safe as possible.
They not only reinforced the concrete that was surrounding the staircase and provided an entrance for anyone that went down into the hole, but they also decided that they needed to do something about the steps themselves.
Although they couldn’t make their way into the hole to see all of the steps, the team could see that a large majority of them were rusty. The metal looked fragile, and they could see that there was a small chance of them actually being able to withstand the weight of a person.
A necessary step
So, how did John and his helpers make the structure as strong as possible?
They opted to reinforce the entrance of the hole with rebar and solidify this even further with another few layers of concrete.
They hoped that this would be enough to give it the strength it needed to avoid collapse, and they hoped that this would give it the strength to cope with humans making their way down and through the entrance. While the heat and the anticipation were often too much for John and his team members to handle, they knew that their hard work would ultimately pay off in the end.
However, John wasn’t the type of person to think of one small detail of a plan without wondering where they would go next with it.
While he knew that they had done the right thing by strengthening the entrance of the hole with concrete and rebar, he knew that there was a high chance that things were just as dangerous down in the hole itself.
Because of this, he wanted to make sure that he had light to guide him when he eventually made his way down the steps. He decided to place an electrical line from his house to the inside of the tunnel, and this would allow him to install lights and even use power tools down there if he needed to.
A true professional
It might surprise you to know that John didn’t stop there. His years spent in the fire department made him very aware of potential dangers within enclosed spaces, and he knew that those who went down into the hole needed to be protected.
More than anything, he wanted to ensure that there were no gas leaks or toxic gases making their way around the hole.
To combat this, John and his team decided to place a pipe into the hole, which pumped fresh air down into the depths below. With this in place, he could be confident that someone could make their way into the hole without any trouble.
Although it seemed as though everything was in place for John and his team, they soon realized that there was no way for them to salvage the staircase inside of the hole.
The rust had completely taken over the metal, and there was no way to repair them while they were still at ground level.
They needed to make their way into the hole itself to even attempt a repair job, but the only way into the hole was to use the staircase. How would they get around it? After racking their brains, John soon came up with a solution that he hoped would work.
Using a ladder
After inspecting the space, John soon realized that there was enough space to fit a ladder to the side of the spiral staircase. With this to his advantage, he donned his hard hat and descended into the depths of the hole beneath him.
He was overwhelmed to have finally got to this stage, and he was extremely excited to see what the hole had in store for him.
While he was making his way down the stairs, he realized that the rumors had been true. There really was something lying beneath his backyard, but he had no idea what it was. Thankfully, he would soon find out.
An impressive sight
As John made his way down the ladder and finally got to glimpse what lay beneath the surface, he was absolutely amazed.
He instantly knew that he had made the right decision in taking on this challenge, and he knew that it had all been worth it.
That’s because located in front of the staircase, was a giant room that looked to be in near-perfect condition. John began to wonder what the room could have been used for when he realized something else. The room was not the only thing down below, because there were also countless tunnels making its way out of the giant room.
Not a pool
When John first bought his house, his friend told him that there were secrets below the surface of the property. However, he had no idea that the rumors would really be true.
As he looked around the underground room and the tunnels that snaked away from it, he couldn’t believe that he had finally uncovered the secret.
However, there were still many questions surrounding the cavern. Although the structure had been built by Whitaker Pools in 1961, it was clear to John that the space below his backyard was not a pool. In fact, it was something different. As John did his research, he realized that the construction date was a huge clue in itself.
A solid construction
While there was no doubt about the fact that the structure beneath the surface was in good shape, John could see that there were still some issues with the safety of the place.
More than anything, he was concerned about the fiberglass ceiling that was falling apart before his very eyes.
Not only is fiberglass extremely toxic, but the fact that it was falling down didn’t bode well for John and anyone else who went down there. Thankfully, John was no stranger to DIY and construction, and he was able to repair the ceiling without any problems. It was an easy fix for him.
Pointing to the past
John knew enough about history to know that his underground cavern was more than just another room for the previous homeowners to enjoy.
The cavern was completely devoid of any furnishings or decoration, and he knew that it was a shelter for those in the war.
Because the bunker was built in 1961, he assumed that the place had been built for a family who was concerned about the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. This was an intriguing surprise for John, but he was still a little confused. More than anything, he wanted to know why a pool company had decided to build a nuclear fallout shelter.
The homeowner decided to do his research and try to understand why Whitaker Pools had decided to build the shelter beneath his home. After all, didn’t they just build pools?
Well, many pool companies decided to give customers what they wanted during the Cold War period, and venture into the world of nuclear fallout shelters.
That’s because they realized that building a solid underground shelter wasn’t too dissimilar to building a pool into the ground, so they opted to expand their working operations and get into the shelter business. Pool companies across the country did the same, and Whitaker Pools was one of them.
Coming up with ideas
John was amazed to learn the reason why his backyard featured a nuclear fallout bunker, and he was even more amazed to hear why it had been built by a pool company in the first place.
As time wore on, it began to dawn on John that he had an exposed hole in the middle of his backyard and that he needed to decide what he was going to do with it.
His friends and family came up with a few ideas, and most of them suggested that he transforms the space into his very own man cave. Others suggested a wine cellar or his very own bar, but John didn’t need ideas from other people. He knew exactly what he wanted to do with the space.
Posting on Reddit
John wanted to share his story with the rest of the world, and he wanted to connect with others who had also found bunkers near to their homes. So, he shared his story on Reddit and awaited the response.
Before he knew it, John’s post had gone viral, and he was inundated with people who wanted to know more about his shelter and what he was going to do with it.
The fact that so many people were interested made John even most interested in the history of the shelters and the Cold War as a whole. In the end, he decided that he wanted to make the bunker into a museum.
Fundraising for money
Before he could transform the bunker into a fully-fledged museum, John knew that he would need to put more efforts into restoring the whole space.
More than anything, he needed to fix the steps. To help him do this, John decided to fundraise for money and ask for donations from the public and those who had found his story online.
He suggested that the work would cost around $2,000 to complete, as he needed to completely replace the staircase and secure the entryway even more than he already had. It wouldn’t be cheap, but he hoped that people would band together and help him.
John fundraised for a short while, and although he managed to score a few hundred dollars in donations, he didn’t manage to obtain the full $2,000.
However, that didn’t put him off. The homeowner was determined to finish his project, so he used the money from donors and his own money combined to finish the job.
Of course, this wasn’t easy. He had to put a huge amount of time, effort, and money into the project, and he even took a leave of absence from work to finish it. Yet, it all paid off when he saw the new and improved staircase.
A big part
Since discovering this underground bunker, John has discovered a real passion for history and everything to do with these structures.
He wants to do his place justice, and he wants to make sure that his plans work in favor of the history and the legend of nuclear fallout bunkers.
In fact, he intends to clean the interior of the bunker, paint the whole thing, deck it out in war-time memorabilia, and allow people to use it as a museum for this period of history. After all, where better to learn about bunkers than in a real-life bunker? He hopes that many people will visit.
Of course, you’ll be happy to know that John has stocked up on cool memorabilia and trinkets to get people inspired inside the bunker.
He wants the whole thing to be full of items from the Cold War, including HAM radios, sanitation kits, water supply barrels, and even Geiger counters.
He has been able to find all of these things thanks to his own research, and he’s bulking out his museum even more as the days go by. He hopes that putting them on display for everyone to see will inspire a new generation and also tell the story of how his house purchase turned into something extraordinary.