Arizona Man Digs Up Buried History in His Own Backyard


A New House With A Mystery

John Sims was an ordinary man, buying what he assumed was an ordinary house in Tucson, Arizona. However, this house led him on an incredible adventure due to whispers of a mystery and a desire to solve it.

The owner of the house before John mentioned there might be something buried in the backyard. With the temptation to find out what secrets could be hidden beneath the house, John was determined to find out what it was. So, he set off to accomplish this task.

A Friend's Warning

The previous owner of the house was John’s friend. He didn’t have any concerns about the house, as he assumed if there was anything seriously wrong with the house his friend would have been straight with him before he purchased it.

After the sale was completed, John’s friend told him not about a defect of the house but of a mystery. He explained that there were strange tales about the house which told of something hidden beneath the backyard decades ago.


In the Back of His Mind

John’s friend told him of an intriguing, yet potentially dangerous tale about his newly acquired home. However, his friend had decided against trying to find out if it was true. This meant that an adventure awaited John if he chose to pursue it.

As John moved into the house, the prospect of discovering its secret buzzed in the back of his mind. With the realization he couldn’t rest until he figured out what was buried underneath his new home, he set off to accomplish this task.


It Was His for the Taking

Infatuated with solving the mystery of his new home, John knew he was going to go to any lengths. Wanting to get to work immediately, he asked his friend for a shovel. John thought he asked this in jest at first, but realized he was itching to start exploring.

However, he quickly figured out that a single shovel wasn’t going to cut it. As John didn’t even know what he was digging for, he decided that his best approach was to take things one step at a time.


But Where to Begin?

John was plagued with considering what could be hidden in his backyard. There were infinite possibilities. He understood there was the possibility of the rumors being false and he could be wasting his time. But the idea of what he could discover was enough to keep pursuing.

John had to figure out how to start. He decided just to start digging with his shovel and go from there. Any holes could be fixed later and if the yard looked a bit disheveled, so be it.


In the Heat of the Moment

With the prospect of unveiling the mystery, John wasn’t going to let anything stop him. With summer in Tucson, Arizona being like standing on the sun, working outside can be extremely challenging. Your energy can be drained quickly from the heat.

Doing manual labor in these kinds of conditions would not entice many people. However, this did not deter John. Imagining discovering something that had been potentially lost for ages, he kept digging. His optimism greatly helped him continue the difficult task.


Doubt Creeps In

With no detailed plan or idea of what to expect, John dug several different holes throughout his yard. After no success in finding anything besides dirt, John started to become dispirited, and anxiety entered his mind.

The possibility that he could have accidentally ruined whatever he was trying to find came to his mind. With the sun beating down on his neck and doubt clouding his mind, he decided to call it a day. He was discouraged but not ready to completely abandon his quest.


Hit the Books

Back inside and letting himself cool off, his mind began to work properly again. He thought of a plan that might aid him in deciphering the secret of his new house.

He obtained copies of Tucson’s city records and searched through as much information as he could find. He then came upon records concerning his new home. He finally had concrete information to go off rather than rumors. He knew this would aid him in his search throughout the grounds.


Wait, I Have a Pool?

The information from the records included facts about his home that he was already aware of. However, a sketch drawn of the property revealed something that greatly intrigued John.

The records revealed that in 1961 a company named Whitaker Pools requested to operate on the land where John now resides. However, John did not see a pool anywhere around his home. What did this mean? Why would a pool company work on his property but not install anything he could visibly see? These questions added to the mystery.


Getting Down to Business

With these new facts and questions coming to light, John realized he had to revise his initial plan. Randomly digging holes in his yard wasn’t going to cut it; he needed consultation to help with his search.

John recruited a team of professionals who came prepared with all the necessary equipment, such as metal detectors. He hoped, with the help of people who were more knowledgeable than him about digging, he would finally be able to crack the mystery that had been consuming him.


Do We Detect a Miracle?

With the crew using their detectors, they started their way across the ground. Nervous anticipation grew in John, knowing that this was likely his final shot at solving the mystery. However, as the detectors swept across further, still nothing had been discovered.

Fear crept in that the search was going to fail, and all his efforts would have been for nothing. Then the sound of a detector beeping caught his ear, and he was ecstatic. He was one step closer.


That Hits the Spot

John could hardly believe his ears. The crew had detected two different locations in the yard with their machines. They put down markers to make sure they remembered the spots their detectors had found, and everyone went to take a rest. John then went to brainstorm his next moves.

His search had finally come to unearth evidence that there was at least something to the tales about his backyard. He was finally beginning to make progress in this intrepid quest.


Back to the Basics

With the professionals having completed their job for the moment, John got out his shovel again and began to dig. He was thankful he now had only two more spots that would ensure he would come across something.

The first hole did not result in any discoveries, and he moved on to the second. He quickly found he could no longer dig any further, as he had scraped something metal. John was closer to getting answers to the questions burning inside him.


A Treasure or Fool's Gold?

After only a couple feet of digging, a metal object had been discovered. John was excited about this find but realized that there was a possibility it could be something unrelated to the mystery, such as a septic tank.

If this turned out to be the case, John would have to take extra precautions while he continued digging. It could be dangerous, and repairs would be very costly if he broke the tank. He certainly wanted to avoid a large and unnecessary expense on his new home.


The Search That Bore Fruit

John cautiously resumed his work. After more digging, he was relieved to find out the metal object was not a septic tank. His fear of coming up short again in his search subsided for the moment. He didn’t throw caution to the wind but was less concerned about causing any damage.

He then tried to uncover the object by clearing away the remaining debris. The mystery was starting to become clearer, and this enticed him to continue his work. His excitement rose as the object became visible.


Entrance to Where?

Even with the knowledge the metal object was for sure not a septic tank, more questions came up. John could see the entirety of it but did not know for sure what it was. The only thing he seemed to be sure of was what the object wasn’t.

He realized it was an entryway, but to where? Did this mean there was an underground chamber of sorts? The idea of a secret bunker was intriguing, but what was its purpose? The most important question, though, was how to open it?


Finding an Opening

Still amazed that he had discovered an entrance buried underneath his yard, John finally felt like things were coming together. He was going to figure out the mystery he had been obsessing about since he moved in.

As he finished clearing the entrance of the remaining dirt upon it, he discovered a passageway covered with a lid. John managed to lift it off, but his instincts from working at the fire department were to proceed with caution before he entered the hatch.


Worth the Wait

While John was anxious to explore further and unlock more secrets about what was underneath his backyard, he knew his safety took priority. His firefighting days reminded him that enclosed spaces can be perilous, especially if you have never been inside one before.

There is the possibility of the air being filled with poison or other harmful substances that can seriously harm someone. As an extra precaution, John was going to ask others to be near and above ground, as the area could collapse or he could get stuck.


Staring into the Darkness

John patiently waited to get everything he needed. Wanting to at least have a quick look, John got his first peek underneath. This was something he had been waiting for, and the excitement was bubbling up inside him. What lies for him under this strange entrance?

John peered downwards into the hatch and strained his eyes to figure out what he was looking at. He wasn’t sure what he was seeing. He had to focus and take in everything around him. What exactly was he seeing?


Spiraling to the Secret

John started to make out what he was looking at. It appeared to be metal blades arranged in a spiral. This didn’t make much sense; why were the blades structured like that, and what were they for?

His eyes were finally able to make out what they were seeing. What seemed to be unintentional now had a clear purpose. The blades were a winding spiral staircase which led further down into the dark ground. It started to become clear that this enclosure was built purposely.


Rather Safe Than Sorry

If John had acted on his impulses, he would have started down the stairs to see what purpose the enclosure served. He was just inches away from finally solving the mystery. Why should he wait any longer?

However, the rational side of John won over his impulses. It would be incredibly dangerous to walk down a structure where he had no idea of its condition. A compromised step could lead him tumbling down the stairs to his death. Begrudgingly, he knew he had to be patient again.


Calling Backup

John knew that the risks of walking down the staircase were too great. It was built 50+ years ago, and the state of the structure was unknown. His burning curiosity and growing impatience were no reason to risk his safety.

He also finalized his team to monitor him once he was able to go down the spiral staircase. It consisted of his friends, whom he knew he could rely on. His plan to guarantee his safety was set in motion.


Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

While the temptation to skip the precautions and go explore the enclosure lingered, he stuck to his plan. He started brainstorming what he would need to ensure he could safely go down the staircase.

With the aid of his team, they developed a plan to navigate the enclosure without risk. Little did John know that his patience would result in an incredible discovery. He and his team also recorded their progress, making their discoveries accessible to others as they continued.


In Need of Repair

As John did not know what sort of condition the enclosure was in, he decided it would be best to reinforce it. That way he wouldn’t have to worry about something collapsing on him. He also knew that he might have to make repairs.

Upon closer examination, John and his team found out the staircase was in terrible shape. The metal was so rusted that it was clear the steps were unsafe to stand on. While they were having some hiccups, they were getting closer and closer to its secret.


Laying the Foundation

The prospect of discovering what lies beneath them kept them preoccupied as they worked. As the Tucson sun beat unforgivingly on them, they realized there was an obvious solution to this problem. Simply propping up a tent kept them covered from the sun’s harsh rays.

After adding concrete to secure the entry and re-barring the spiral staircase, they were confident about eliminating risks concerning the enclosure. The idea of a collapse was no longer something they needed to worry about.


Let There Be Light

Luckily, John liked to plan ahead. He pondered what else he might need as he made his way into the dark enclosure. He realized he would need light to help him see where he was going. Feeling his way blindly through a dark, unfamiliar place would not be preferable.

John and his team installed an electrical line to light up the entirety of the enclosure. It would also allow them to make any repairs on the enclosure once they reach solid ground.


Clearing the Air

In considering what other precautions John and his team had to take, they decided to tackle the risk of toxic air. As they were dealing with an underground enclosure that was built decades ago, they knew this could be a problem.

The team set up a pipe at the opening of the enclosure. This would allow clean air into the enclosure, negating anything toxic that could be lurking nearby. They were nearing the time when John could finally take his first steps down the staircase.


Drumroll Please

However, the first steps were not possible – quite literally – as the steps of the spiral staircase were not stable yet. As they could not safely put any weight on them, they were stuck with an issue. How would they be able to repair the steps without being able to get close to them?

The answer to John was obvious. Using a long ladder, he safely fastened it to the entrance to bypass the stairs. Was he finally going to descend into the enclosure?


Down the Rabbit Hole

Yes, John was going to get to discover the secret he had been searching for. The moment he long imagined the first time he heard of something mysterious hidden in his backyard was coming to reality.

John realized he was likely the only human in decades to be in this enclosure. The past had hidden it from the world, only for him to rediscover it. He began his descent, and his mind started to wonder what he was about to see. Anticipation surged throughout his body.


Landing on Solid Ground

Down the ladder John went. He could see the ground close below him. His foot went from the last rung on the ladder to solid ground. He was finally in the thick of the mystery.

He gazed around in awe at the large room he stood in. All of this had been underneath the homes of many of the previous owners, who never knew what was hidden beneath them. As John looked around, he saw a series of tunnels. There was even more for him to explore.


A Tale Not so Tall

John was taken aback to the records he had combed through regarding his property. He remembered that the enclosure he was standing in now had to have been built by the pool company mentioned.

However, he was not standing in anything close to a pool. John remembered that the year it was built was 1961. He thought that maybe the year could be a clue as to why this had been built in the first place. Suddenly, he realized the connection.


The Russians are Coming

The realization hit John because of the room he was standing in. It was large and lacked any kind of furniture or equipment. This was because the enclosure was not intended for a social gathering, but for protection. He was inside a bunker likely made as an escape from nuclear war.

Fear had gripped the world during the Cold War, as tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union reached a boiling point. It was not uncommon for people to build bomb shelters.


Structurally Sound

Observing the structure of the room around him, he noticed it was still in fairly good shape considering how old it was. One thing he noticed was that the ceiling was made of fiberglass. This was not a positive discovery.

Fiberglass is extremely unsafe, as it is toxic to inhale and can irritate the skin. Not to mention the glass was falling apart. John knew this was something that could easily be repaired. Nothing could stop him now that he had connected the dots.


At Your Service

The bunker underneath John’s property wasn’t the only one built by the pool company. There was a high demand for them in the 1960s, causing companies to add these shelters to their services. This happened all over the United States.

Builders accustomed to designing pools realized that building a bunker wasn’t all that different. Both were underground and typically built in a yard. All they had to do was close the top. It is known that a company named Catalina Pools installed 500 bunkers by 1961.


What Now?

John was ecstatic he had done the unthinkable and navigated his way down the bunker, all based on rumors. He then asked himself what he was going to do with the bunker now that he had found it? He received various suggestions from his friends.

Some people who found underground bunkers transformed them into living quarters, or dedicated spaces for art and music. However, John was going to do something else. He wanted it to be unique, as it was a treasure he had sought after for so long.


Preserving a Relic

John decided to share his adventure online, and quickly learned he wasn’t alone. He posted his story on Reddit, which soon became popular. He started talking to others who also had an underground shelter.

John started to become more interested in these bunkers, as well as the Cold War. He decided he was going to convert his bunker into a museum. He understood that this meant more work to complete this task. He had to decide what his next steps were, and how to accomplish them.


To the Internet

John’s first step was to raise money for the supplies needed to transform his bunker into a museum. He set up a GoFundMe account in which he explained what he wanted to do.

John wanted to start repairing the entry to the shelter, as this had to be done prior to making any changes to the ground floor of the bunker. He stated that the entrance needed a large amount of concrete. He also wanted to completely replace the spiral staircase. The cost of this was around $2,000.


The Project Will Proceed

Even though John’s GoFundMe post became popular, he received less than half of his desired goal. However, this was not a roadblock to his progress. He was so dedicated to this project that he put it above his actual job to get it done. He then finished the entry and stairs.

John continued to share his progress online. He posted updates about how the stairs could be used in lieu of the ladder. A photo he posted of the staircase showed it painted a bright blue.


Plans for the Future

John continued to post about his plans now that the entrance and staircase were completed. He said that he wanted to paint the interior, still wanting to add a museum as well as a personal space.

John stated that he was heavily invested in his research into the Cold War. The fear must have been substantial if people went out of their way to build these shelters. It appeared that the bunker and the history of the war had impacted John.


Keeping History Alive

John started to collect items for the part of the bunker dedicated to the museum. He posted about finding many relevant collectibles from that era. It was incredible the vast amount of history he had found.

Many of these items were vintage and extremely valuable, so it is surprising to see that they were all in good condition. John’s hope was that the museum would be a reminder of the lengths war had driven people to survive. All in all, things turned out well for John.