For some folks, purchasing a new home is thrilling. It’s a new spot, and the possibilities for renovation are endless. Though for one Arizona man, there was more than one rumor about his newly bought property that he couldn’t ignore.
And what was supposed to be an exciting new time in his life turned into something else altogether. Keep reading; you might be just as surprised as John Sims was when he learned of the secrets buried underneath his property.
John Sims Bought Property In Tucson, Arizona
John Sims didn’t think much of it when he decided to move to Tucson, Arizona, purchasing a home in a midtown neighborhood. He was excited for a change of scenery and some new neighbors.
What he wasn’t ready for were the rumors about his property. According to the townsfolk, there was something strange about John’s new home. The new homeowner was intrigued, to say the least, but he never expected the rumor to be true.
There Was Something Buried In The Yard
After talking to the previous homeowner, John learned that there was supposedly something buried in his new backyard. What that something was, no one knew for sure, sparking John’s curiosity even more.
He couldn’t just leave a decades-old secret buried in his backyard. So, he started planning on a way to uncover the mystery. He just never expected to embark on a mission that would become one of the most astonishing events in his life.
A Friend Handed Over The Keys
When John was handed the new keys to his home, the last thing on his mind was something amiss. One of his friends was the previous homeowner, after all, and he would have told John if there was something wrong with the house.
It didn’t take long after closing that John’s friend finally brought him in on a little secret. Rumor has it; there is something buried underneath the property, and it’s been there for years.
What To Do With The Information
While John’s friend knew about the rumors and the possible discovery buried in the backyard, he never acted on it. So, what was John to do with this information? He decided to put it in the back of his mind, for the time being, deciding to focus on unpacking and getting his new house in order.
But it didn’t take long for his friend’s words to come back to his mind. He had to know if the rumors were true.
He Had A Single Shovel
John wasn’t getting anything around his new house accomplished. All he could think about was the mystery surrounding his backyard. He even jokingly asked his friend to borrow a shovel when he first told John the rumor.
Now, he realized that he’d need more than a single shovel. But even if he had to right equipment, was he actually about to take the time to dig around his backyard? What if the rumor was just that, a rumor?
John Decided To Start Investigating
Realizing he had nothing but a single shovel, John paused for a minute. Was it worth digging around his new property, uprooting all of the grass and foliage? He had nothing to base his mission on besides rumors and talk.
He wouldn’t even know where to start digging. Even so, he couldn’t let the mystery stay a mystery. He began laying out a game plan, deciding investigating is better than not knowing.
Adrenaline And Excitement Were Fueling John
John was thrilled; he enjoyed the adrenaline that came with thinking about the mystery in his backyard. What could possibly be buried back there, if anything? He couldn’t wait to find out.
All he had to do was start digging. He’d worry about filling in any holes and reconstructing his lawn later; finding the treasure, or whatever was buried underground, was more important right now! Who knows, maybe there’s something amazing down there.
Shovel In Hand, John Began To Dig
With nothing left to lose, John grabbed his borrowed shovel and got to work. Right now, he couldn’t worry about the divots in his lawn or the complete upheaval that his backyard would look like after this little adventure.
If he ever wanted another sound sleep, he was going to have to see this mission through and deal with the outcome at a later date. Who knows, maybe his findings would be able to help pay for a landscaper!
Arizona Summers Are No Joke
John was determined, and he wasn’t going to let anything get in his way of finding out the truth about his new property, even if the obstacle was Arizona’s blistering triple-digit summer temperatures.
Considering those conditions aren’t exactly ideal or safe to work in, most people would have called it quits by now. But John wasn’t going to give up until he unearthed whatever was buried in his backyard. He could only hope that he found it soon.
He Dug And Dug And Dug Some More
John Could only hope that his hard labor was going to pay off (hopefully, soon!). It didn’t take long for holes to litter his backyard, with no treasure, object, or rumor-defying artifact to show for his troubles.
But he wasn’t ready to give up quite yet. If people were still talking about something buried years ago, then he’d bet whatever it was is still down there. It’s just a matter of finding it.
He Almost Gave Up Hope
After excavating a few holes, pretty much destroying his backyard, John worried that he might never find what was supposedly buried in his yard all those years ago. He began to give up hope, but only for a little while.
He’d invested too much time in finding whatever it was to find to give up now! He had to think of a Plan B before giving up all hope that the mystery was just a rumor.
Plan B = Checking The City’s Municipal Records
Digging around aimlessly in his backyard left John with nothing more than holes in his lawn. So, Plan B was in order. That’s when he had a spark of brilliance. There was a way to learn more about his home.
John decided to track down Tucson’s municipal records, thinking they might have some inside knowledge into his new home and anything that might have been buried on the grounds in previous years.
John Found Records About His Home
John set about looking over the city’s municipal records, looking for any clues that might help him determine what was buried underneath his backyard. Thankfully, his extensive research was rewarded!
He found records pertaining to his home. Now, it was just a matter of finding information about the property. Was he really about to find answers to all of those rumors he’s been told? John could hardly contain his excitement.
No New Information Was Being Found
Unfortunately, the records he was looking at weren’t giving him any new information. They told him the year the house was built and various schematics that he already knew prior to purchasing the home from his friend.
But before he gave up hope again, john stumbled across another piece of paper. Instead of various information, this particular sheet of paper had a rough sketch of the home. And that wasn’t all, there was new information, too!
Whitaker Pools’ 1961 Permit
After searching the municipal records, John stumbled across something very interesting. He found that a company called Whitaker Pools applied for a permit in 1961, over 50 years earlier.
The only thing was that John’s home didn’t have a pool. So what was a pool company doing at the property all those years ago? Did they have something to do with the rumors? What he was about to find out shocked everyone.
No More Goofing Around
With the sketch and new information about Whitaker Pools, John knew that it was time to get serious. Not that he wasn’t serious about finding whatever it was buried in his backyard before.
But now he realized that he couldn’t randomly dig holes in the ground; he needed another game plan. This time, he was going to bring in some professionals who knew what they were doing and what to look for. At least, he hoped they’d know what to look for.
Metal Detectors Were Brought Into The Picture
After searching around, John hired a team of consultants, hoping they would have an idea of how to go about unearthing something from an unknown location. The consultants arrived ready for business, bringing in equipment that was far exceeding John’s lone shovel.
It’s not like everyday folks have metal detectors lying around, though! John could only hope that the equipment was going to be enough to solve this strange mystery once and for all.
The Consultants Were Coming Up Empty-Handed
John was brimming with anticipation. With the use of metal detectors, the search around his yard became more focused. He could only hope that the professionals would have better luck than he did.
But as the consultants searched around the yard, they too were coming up empty-handed. Maybe John wasn’t meant to learn the truth about the mysterious rumors about his house. Then, the metal detectors started beeping, altering the group that it found something.
John Was Thrilled With The Discovery
John couldn’t contain his excitement when he heard the metal detector go off. After all of those long afternoons digging around in the Arizona sun, he was finally going to get some answers.
All he could do now was sit back and hope the metal detector found something worth his time and not an old Coca Cola can. All he could do now is sit back and wait for whatever was down there to be unearthed.
Two Spots Were Located
But wait. The metal detector wasn’t going off in one singular area; it was actually pinging two! John couldn’t believe it! He quickly marked the two locations in his backyard, not wanting to risk losing the spots.
Now, it was up to John to figure out his next move. He had the object’s locations, at least he hoped, thanks to the metal detector and consultants, so now what was he to do?
The Shovel Came Out…Again
With no fancy equipment of his own, John resorted back to his handy, dandy shovel. Getting ready to dig into the earth, John couldn’t help but shake with excitement. He was really about to find out what was buried in his backyard all those years ago!
He could only begin to imagine what he was about to find. Of course, what he did end up finding wasn’t even in his realm of possibilities.
The Shovel Hit Something Hard
Once again, John began to dig. This time, though, his efforts were focused, and he didn’t have to guess where the object of interest was buried. He only hoped that he wouldn’t have to dig for a super long time!
As it turned out, he didn’t. Digging at the second location pinged by the metal detector, it didn’t take long for John’s shovel to hit something hard. Was this it; did he find the source of the rumors?
It Was Time To Unveil The Object
John’s shovel made contact with something, making the tell-tale sound of metal hitting metal. He was so close to solving the mystery of his backyard. Now, it was just a matter of unveiling the object he had just come into contact with.
But what he found wasn’t nearly as exciting as what he had pictured in his head. At least, it wasn’t as interesting at first. Not until he took a closer look did John realize what it was.
A Septic Tank? John Was No Happy
John first hit the metal object after digging three-feet down. But what he came in contact with wasn’t nearly as impressive as all of the images floating around in his head. Taking a closer look, John was worried that all he found was an old septic tank.
Obviously, the initial disappointment flooded him. He spent so much time on detective work to figure out what was buried in his yard, not to mention the money he spent on consultants. This couldn’t be the end.
He Wasn’t Going To Admit Defeat
Not only was John upset that the object was potentially a septic tank, but that meant he had to be very careful if he continued to dig. Hitting a pipe or damaging the outer casing of a septic tank would be a recipe for disaster! And that was the last thing John wanted to worry about.
The thing is, John’s curiosity got the better of him. There was no way all of the time he spent on this mystery resulted in a septic tank.
It Wasn’t A Septic Tank At All
With the septic tank in his mind, John continued to dig very carefully. But after a while, John realized something; the object wasn’t a septic tank at all! The contraption was way more impressive and interesting.
Still using the utmost care, John dug around the object, hoping it wouldn’t take too long for him to unearth it in its entirety. The anticipation made the hard, hot, and difficult digging go a lot faster.
John Thought It Was An Entryway Of Some Kind
John was able to determine that the object he unearthed most definitely wasn’t a septic tank. The concrete and metal structure actually looked like the opening to something. He just had no idea what.
Unfortunately, the more of the object John got out into the open, the more questions started popping up. The biggest question was if the structure was the entryway to something, where exactly did it lead, and how did a person get there?
He Noticed A Hatch On The Entryway
When John learned there was a mysterious rumor about his home, the last thing he thought was that there was a portal or entryway of some kind located in his backyard. But here it was!
After digging around a bit more, John discovered that the entryway actually had a hatch located on the top. Carefully, he pried the lid open, not knowing what he was going to find inside. What he saw was completely unexpected.
Safety Was Key
Having had some training as a fire department captain, John knew that it wasn’t wise to jump into the entryway. There was no telling what was at the bottom or if it would be able to get back up. There was no need to accidentally hurt himself.
He was so close to solving the mystery; John could almost taste it! But the entryway wasn’t going anywhere, and he’d prefer to be safe than do something drastic.
John Wasn’t Sure Where To Begin
From the records John read over, he knew that the entryway was built over 50 years ago. That meant that wherever it led might very well be littered in toxic mold, unstable structures, and more than one unsightly insect or rodent.
The last thing John wanted was to climb into the entryway only to have it collapse in on him, trapping him underground. He was going to have to approach this methodically.
After Some Time, John Lifted The Lid
After taking some precautions, the time to open the hatch finally came. As excited as he might have been, nothing could have prepared John for what he was about to see inside the entryway.
And so, he lifted the hatch, peered inside, and automatically started asking more questions. He had no clue what he was looking at! He thought it was an entryway to some unknown location, but the inside was something else altogether.
The Moment Of Truth: What Was Inside The Hatch
At first glance, John had no idea what he was looking at. Inside the entryway, John noticed a series of what looked like metal blades. What they were used for, he had no idea. It was just one more mystery for him to solve.
But after a few minutes of looking at the strange blades, John realized what he was actually looking at. Inside the hatched entryway was an old, rickety spiral staircase!
One Mystery Traded For Another
It looked as though the metal staircase led even further down into the backyard of John’s property. Where it led exactly, John could only begin to guess. He had no clue why someone would build the little underground chamber.
But the new mystery only fueled John’s anticipated to uncover the truth. He was ready to learn once and for all what this mystery chamber was and why it is buried in his backyard.
Going Down The Hole Wasn’t An Option (Yet)
If John was anyone else, he might have run straight over to the staircase, climbed down, and saw where it led. But John wasn’t ordinary; he had training as a fire department captain and knew better than to climb down dark, damp holes.
Well, it was a little bit of that along with common sense, telling him that going down an unknown source probably wasn’t the smartest game plan in the world.
One Too Many Problems
John was smart, realizing that there were one too many problems with him jumping headfirst into the mysterious hole. First off, the structure was built over 50 years ago, so who knew what type of condition those stairs were in.
Secondly, John would feel better if there were other people around when he finally ventured underground, just in case something went wrong. So, he called in some reinforcements to help him put together the final piece of the puzzle.
With The Help Of His Friends, John Came Up With A Plan
Even though he was brimming with anticipation, John knew that his findings weren’t going anywhere and that his safety was more important than wherever the entry led. With the help of a few trusted friends, he came up with a plan to safely explore his findings.
The thing was, John wasn’t prepared for what he was about to find. And he surely wasn’t expecting the solved mystery to pay off in such an interesting way.
First Step: Reinforcing The Concrete Entrance
Since the structure was sitting underground unused for decades, John had no clue what type of condition it was in. Everything would go downhill fast if the stairs were unable to support his weight.
With that in mind, John and his friends knew the first thing they had to accomplish was reinforcing the entire entrance, making it safe for John and whoever else to venture down into the earth. But that wasn’t the only thing that needed work.
Second Step: Installing New Stairs
While John and his friends came to the conclusion that no one was venturing into the entry without proper reinforcement, there was something else they had to think about. The spiral staircase wasn’t in the best condition, being left to the underground elements for over 50 years.
The stairs were rusted, some all the way through. There was no way they were going to hold anyone’s weight in their current condition. They were going to have to fix them up, too.
New Rebar And Layers Upon Layers Of Fresh Concrete
To ensure whoever entered the chamber were safe, John and his friends began reinforcing the entrance and stairs with layers of concrete and new rebar. It was a necessary precaution since the structure was surely to collapse on someone otherwise.
The men were all excited to see where the stairs led, especially after all of the hard work they were putting in under the brutal Arizona sun. It was only a matter of time before everything was going to pay off.
There Was One More Issue To Deal With
Ever the preparer, John realized that once he was able to enter the mysterious chamber in his backyard that he’d want to be able to look around. To do that, he’d need some semblance of light.
While most people would use their phone or a handheld flashlight, John invested too much time into the mystery. He wasn’t going to go down into the hole without some high-end electrical work being down first.
Next Step: An Electrical Wire
John wasn’t going to go down into the chamber without some sort of light, and not one coming from his phone or a flashlight. He wanted full-on electrical power down there. So, he began installing an electrical wire.
This way, the area would be illuminated, and the men would be able to use electrical tools if the need arose. John couldn’t believe it; they were making sift progress. He couldn’t wait until it was all finished.
Air Quality Was A Concern
While the men were busy getting the reinforcements in place, one more thing popped into John’s mind. Most likely coming from his background as a fire captain, but John couldn’t help but wonder about the air quality of the chamber.
It’s been sealed for over 50 years, after all. Toxic mold could potentially be a huge concern. But John wasn’t giving up. He was determined to climb down the newly reinforced entrance!
They Inserted A Tube To Funnel In Fresh air
Since air quality was a huge concern, the men had to find a workaround. It didn’t take long! They decided to place a pipe at the entrance of the chamber, funneling in fresh air throughout the bottom.
This would make things much safe for John and whoever else was brave enough to venture down into the unknown space. Hey, it might be spooky, but at least John thought to get fresh air and light down there!
One Last Issue: The Rusty Staircase
With the entry reinforced with new concrete and rebar, fresh air filtered into the unknown space, and an electrical wire installed to illuminate the area; there was only one more thing to check off — the rusty staircase.
Unfortunately, John and his friends realized there was no way for them to fix the old staircase from above. They were going to have to figure out another way to get into the chamber. But how?
John Had An Idea For A Pseudo Staircase
With the stairs off the table, the group had to figure out another way to descend into the hole for the time being. Thankfully, John had a brilliant idea that wasn’t going to take too much time to install.
He grabbed a tall ladder, set it down in the hole, and secured it to the side. This was it, a safe staircase that would allow John to finally climb down and see what was actually in the chamber.
It Was Time!
Finally, John was about to solve the mystery his friend told him about when he first moved into his new home in Tucson, Arizona. Climbing down the ladder, he could barely contain his excitement; he was about to be the first person to venture into the chamber in the last 50 years!
He couldn’t wait to see how his hard work paid off. The thing was, he had no clue what he was stepping into.
The Fiberglass Ceiling Had To Go
The first thing John noticed after stepping off the ladder was the copious amounts of fiberglass used on the walls and ceiling. The material was toxic to humans if breathed in; it had to go.
Thankfully, it was something that could be easily repaired. So, John made a mental note to remove the material as soon as possible. First, he wanted to explore his surroundings; he’d waited long enough, after all!
A Room And A Series Of Tunnels
With his imagination running wild, John finally stepped off the last rung of the ladder and onto a solid floor. Wait, a solid floor? To his amazement, John was standing in what looked like a room. And it was in pretty decent shape.
Who would have thought, underneath his backyard was a hidden room. And that wasn’t even all. Connected to the room was a series of tunnels, making a complex labyrinth underneath his property.
Clearly, Whitaker Pools Didn’t Build A Pool
When John first moved to the house, his friend spoke to him about a mystery buried deep beneath the property. It was just some rumor, one he never thought to look into. But John did, learning that whatever was in the yard was built by the Whitaker Pool company back in 1961.
Well, it clearly wasn’t a pool that was built. But John had a hunch what the pool company built the room and tunnels for, considering the year.
Cold War Paranoia And A Nuclear Bomb Shelter
While the structure seemed to be in good shape, considering its 50-year burial, John noticed it lacked furniture and other homely aspects. With the bareness of the structure and knowing the time it was built, John came to one conclusion.
The chamber was a product of Cold War paranoia. When the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union was strained, people built nuclear bomb shelters in their yards, just in case of an attack.
Whitaker Pools Added A New Service To Its Business
But that begged the question as to why a pool company would come out and build an underground bunker. Didn’t they have another customer-base to service? Of course, John found out the answer to that mystery, too.
Apparently, Whitaker Pools took advantage of the social unrest, using their client base and offering another service that was in high demand — building bomb shelters in case a nuclear attack on the United States happened.
Pool Companies Around The Country Were Offering The Service
Interestingly, Whitaker Pools wasn’t the only company taking advantage of the hostile time. Many pool builders realized building underground shelters wasn’t all that different from constructing inground pools.
Both projects used the same tools and the same amount of labor. So many companies expanded their list of services. For example, Ene Los Angeles company, Catalina Pools, had such a wide client-base for underground shelters that they built 500 bunkers by the time 1961 rolled around!
After days of searching through archive records, digging in his backyard, and making the chamber safe enough to enter, John finally solved the mystery of the rumor: the object buried in his backyard was a Cold War nuclear bomb shelter.
Now one question remained, what was he going to do with the empty space? It was a large area, and John’s friends had a few ideas of what he could do with the area.
Uses For The Space Are Endless
John was now the proud owner of a huge, empty, concrete room in the ground. His friends were throwing around various ideas of what he could do with the area, a cigar bar, a “man cave, or even a wine cellar.
And there are various stories online illustrating how people have converted old bunkers into livable quarters, art galleries, and recording studios. The options are endless! But John had something else in mind.
A Backyard Cold War Museum
After posting his findings on Reddit, John realized he’s not the only one who’s been lucky enough to find a bomb shelter in his backyard. He was in good company, and soon, his post went viral.
With a growing interest in fallout shelters in the Cold War era, John came up with an idea. In time, he was going to convert the bunker into a museum. Of course, it was going to take a lot of time, effort, and some serious money.
Donations Were Key
Since John wanted to convert the Cold War nuclear bomb fallout shelter into a museum, he had a lot of construction and renovations ahead of him. That meant donations and a lot of fundraising in his future.
So, he started with a GoFundMe page, showcasing his findings and describing his current renovation project. He wasn’t sure if anyone was going to donate to his vision, but it was a good place to start.
John Was Also Looking For Volunteers
Not only was John asking for donations to help with supply costs, but he was also asking for volunteers since the bunker was so large. On his GoFundMe post, John wrote, “Hi, I’m John, and I need some help restoring a vintage Fallout Shelter that I have uncovered in my back yard.”
“The upper entry needs a large concrete pour to secure the entry, and the metal circular staircase needs to be replaced.” The project was going to be hard work and an estimated $2,000 to complete.
First Mission: Attack The Rusty Old Staircase
Since his findings went viral on Reddit, it didn’t take long before his GoFundMe page was wildly circulated. Unfortunately, his $2,000 mark fell short. But with the hundreds of dollars that he did secure in donations was enough for him to get started!
His first mission: to tackle the rusty old staircase and get the latter out of the entry hole. Of course, he shared all of his updates online since people were very excited to see the final product.
John’s Plans Were Coming Together
Finally, the day came when John was able to post a picture of the finished stairs. On the post, he said, “Stairs are finished! Now it’s easy and safe to climb in and out.” And he proceeded to explain the next steps in his renovations.
On the post, he said, “My plans are to clean up the interior, repaint it and turn it into a really cool man cave, HAM shack, and Civil Defense Museum.”
Next Up: Stocking The Shelter With Era-Appropriate History
With the stairs finally installed, John’s vision was coming into focus! Next, he planned to gather some Cold War-era-appropriate history on display in the bunker, relics for the museum.
So far, John’s found radiation detection kits, water supply barrels, Geiger counters, and HAM radios to display. It’s not a project that’ll be finished overnight, or even in a few months. But John is ready for the challenge and is excited to begin teaching others about the history and his findings.