How well do you know your house? What about your backyard? You probably smirked, sure you know every possible nook and cranny on the property. You may wish to reconsider. Take the case of John Sims of Arizona, for instance. He was absolutely certain nothing about his home, in which he has lived with his family for years, could surprise him. Was he ever wrong. Just for a lark, he decided one day to dig up his home’s original plans.
Looking at them, he almost wished he hadn’t, because he was now staring at something he couldn’t believe. It appeared, or so the plans would have him believe, that there was something under his backyard. He couldn’t make out what exactly it was, but it was there, staring him right in the face. John went about investigating, and explored the property he thought he knew so well.
A startling discovery
John Sims of Arizona lived a normal, quiet life with his family. He never imagined there was anything extraordinary about h and his family’s life, and certainly not about the home they lived in. One day, on a whim, he examined their home’s original plans. He stopped, looked aside and then looked again.
His eyes weren’t playing tricks on him – the plans were showing there was something in his backyard. He’d been out there a million times, but never noticed anything out of the ordinary. By simple deduction, that meant if there was truly something there – it had to be underground. This required further investigation, and he was just the man to do it.
The hunt begins
Using the plans as a guide – and having enlisted the help of a seasoned metal detector operator – John tried to find out exactly where the anomaly he found was located in the real word. It took some trial and error, but eventually they were able to narrow it down to two potential locations, which they marked with an X.
It may seem childish, but to John it was perfectly apt – it really felt like he was hunting for buried treasure, and – for all he knew – he may well have been! Finally, it was time to get to work and start digging. If there was something down there, good old-fashioned elbow grease will unearth it.
Hitting the jackpot
It was slow going at first, considering John was working alone under the sweltering Southwestern sun, but it seemed like all his hard work was paying off – his shovel hit something that definitely wasn’t dirt.
There was certainly something down there, but more work was needed to get a clearer picture of what it actually was. Then, the more he dug, the clearer it became – he had hit a metallic lid. A new mystery now emerged – what was the lid hiding? What was underneath his property this entire time?
Just more questions
The lid was stuck fast after years of disuse, but using sheer determination to drive him forward, John was finally able to lift it. Once he had, though, what he found instead of answers was just another enigma.
With the lid lifted and open, John was now staring at a row of slats leading deeper underground. They may have been fan blades, or a staircase, or anything else, for that matter. There really was only one way to find out.
Whatever those slats were, they were in no condition to be of use. Being hidden away for all those years took its toll on the metal, and the slats were completely rusted through, rendering them unusable.
On top of that, the entire opening was clogged with dirt and rubble. If John wanted to get to the bottom of it – literally – he’d need to clear all of it out so he could safely explore. He had come this far, and there was no point turning back now. It looked like more work lay ahead…
Halting progress is made
It seemed at times that the work would never end, and now an added element of danger was thrown into the mix, but John found the courage to descend what turned out to be a makeshift staircase and discover what awaited him below.
He thought all of the rubble he’d removed from the opening was it, but was he ever in for a surprise when he made his way down – there was even more rubble to clear further down!
Not giving up
John was exasperated. After putting in so much work all by himself, the opening just get throwing more and more obstacles his way. He resolved to not let this new challenge get the better of him, however, and got down to work.
It was time to clear out some rubble. After what must have seemed like ages, enough of it was gone for him to safely move around but he’d made another realization – the rickety stairs were a menace, and had to be replaced. It was too much for one man to tackle alone…
A little help from my friends
So he didn’t do it alone. Knowing that a project that might seem monumentally difficult when carried out alone would be that much easier with a few more pairs of hands, John called upon his buddies and presented them with the challenge.
Luckily, they were more than happy to oblige and pitch in. There was no time to celebrate – there was work to be done, and it was clear where it should start – by fortifying the entrance to the structure below.
Getting a firm base
Again, the work was slow going at first, but this time John wasn’t alone, and the joint effort was beginning to pay off. The gang used wood, epoxy glue and, finally, concrete to secure the area around the opening.
That was the first order of business – they couldn’t have the entire thing coming down on their heads while they were busy working on it belowground. The closer they got to completing that first task, the more John was excited at the prospect of what was to come next.
Truth almost revealed
With the group’s working paying dividends, the area around the opening was secure and now seemed like a safe, modern entrance. An unintended side effect, however, was that it was now taller.
The stairs obviously had to go, as they were a hazard, which meant they needed other means of getting down. A ladder seemed to do the job just fine, though, and John was now on the cusp of finally finding out – after all that hard work by him and his friend – what was hiding underneath his backyard.
A feeling of unease
It was almost ironic, but now that he was closer than ever to figuring out the truth, John was starting to feel some pangs of dread tug at him. Whatever lay below, it wasn’t built casually or haphazardly.
Someone put in a lot of work to make sure whatever was down there, remained down there. He couldn’t help but feel a twinge of dread as he considered what was to come, but it was too late now. It was time to find out.
Realization begins to dawn
Finally entering the main structure proper, John picked up on some telltale signs pointing to its broad date of construction, but that hinted at its purpose as well.
Objects like a manually-powered fan led him to believe whoever built it was planning on staying down there for a prolonged period of time. If he compounded that with the concrete fortifications and available storage space, a clear image of what the place was intended for came into focus.
A Cold War remnant
All those years he was living there, a bomb shelter was hiding underneath John’s home. No other explanation made sense, and there were some signs pointing to the place being used during the Cold War.
It was completely clear it was built with the intention of allowing its occupant to survive all-out war, but it was difficult to say whether or not it had ever been used for that purpose in reality. Regardless, one thing was certain…
Built to last
What amazed both John and his friends from the outset was the condition they found the shelter in. It had been a little worse for wear, sure, with several elements – most notably the stairs – falling into disrepair, but the overall structural integrity of the place was almost entirely uncompromised.
It was in such good condition, in fact, that John was convinced he could whip it back into shape if he so desired. Stage one of that renovation work? He only needed to look up to see it.
A health hazard above
Despite the shelter’s structural integrity, there was one element that was in even worse shape than the stairs – the ceiling. Originally coated with fiberglass, it was now crumbling and falling to pieces, meaning no other work could be carried out before that was fixed – what was the point of hiding from danger in a place that was in and of itself dangerous?
With his friends still onboard, John removed the fiberglass sheets overhead. With that done, it was time to move onto the next task.
A spiral challenge
It was clear what they should do next, and they were avoiding it long enough, but it was time for the stairs to meet their maker. They were never safe to begin with, and a ladder worked just as well in their instead.
Having taken them out, it was now exponentially easier to carry materials in and out of the shelter. With several people working simultaneously, the project was now in full swing. It was smooth sailing from here on out, or so it seemed…
While it was never on the forefront of John’s mind in the beginning, it quickly became readily apparent that his project came with a very hefty price tag – one of several thousand dollars, in fact. Just making sure he could safely enter the shelter placed a considerable financial burden on him, and he couldn’t spend anymore.
Initially at a loss as to how to proceed, he had a revelation – turn to the public. Setting up a page on popular crowdfunding platform GoFundMe, John shared his story, and hoped people would find it worthy of supporting.
Mapping out the future
Having discovered what lied just underneath his home the entire time, it was time for John to decide what he ultimately planned to do with the place. He couldn’t decide on just one, and so settled on two: once work on the shelter was completed, he would turn it into a mancave for himself, and a museum for everyone else.
While the work was ongoing, he did quite a bit of research into the Cold War, and made it a point to pick up several items from the period. What better place to show them off?
Some serious progress made
According to John’s last GoFundMe update, the shelter now had a brand spanking new set of stairs. Having removed the old staircase, John fashioned a new one all by himself. While at first he intended to buy an existing one, he quickly discovered that was not financially tenable.
The alternative was clear: it was time to practice some welding. It was a start-stop measure, and the first few tries failed miserably, but he learned as he went. Switching to using iron, he was finally able to nail the creation of a new set of stairs.
A future shrouded in mystery
We haven’t heard from John in a little over a year, with the last update showcasing the new staircase. However, it’s almost a certainty he is now trying to make headway on the project on his own terms.
It wasn’t just about solving a mystery anymore – it was now about developing a labor of love. Considering how far it had already come, John is worthy of every praise. It just goes to show – even if you live somewhere you think you know like the back of your hand, you never know what lies buried just beneath you…