86-Year-Old Man Built a DIY Nuclear Bunker from 42 Buried Buses

Source: Marta Iwanek /

Collecting items is a hobby for many people. Some people collect comic books, some people collect movie memorabilia. One elderly gentleman, though, spent more than half a century on his collection, and his local government spent more than $250,000 to stop him.

A Fraught Youth

Bruce Beach is an 86-year-old gentleman that was born in Kansas in the United States. He spent his adolescent years during one of America’s tensest eras, witnessing the horrors of the Vietnam war and learning about the Cold War in blinding detail.

Source: Youtube/Your Morning

These realities were difficult for Bruce to manage, understandably, and the man grew to have intense anxiety around the idea of being exposed. By the time that Bruce was an adult, he knew that he had to change something, and made the decision to pack up his wife and children and move across the border to Canada.

The Family Ended Up in a Small Town

Bruce and his wife ended up in a small town in rural Ontario, which is where she grew up. Though the anxiety that Bruce felt was mitigated once they moved out of the United States, he still dealt with symptoms of emotional distress.

Source: Youtube/New York Post

Due to these complicated feelings, Bruce set off on a mission that even his wife didn’t understand. Bruce wanted to ensure that he and his family were entirely safe from what he perceived as the evils of the world, and in 1970, he believed that the small town two hours outside of Toronto was the perfect place.

Bruce Began Collecting Buses, Of All Things

Starting in 1980, Bruce began a collection that to the outsider, might appear very odd: old and retired school buses. He worked on this collection for five years, purchasing each bus for approximately $300 and having them delivered directly to his home.

Source: Marta Iwanek

Altogether, Bruce spent about $12,000 on his collection, and amassed a whopping total of 42 school buses. His wife and children were baffled by Bruce’s odd obsession, but there was a reason behind the collection – even if it only made sense to him.

Bruce Wanted the Steel

The reasoning behind wanting the school buses was due to the material that they were made from: reinforced steel. For someone like Bruce, who grew up in politically fraught times and lived through the realities of the nuclear arms race, the concern with safety makes sense.

Source: Youtube/New York Post

To Bruce, the buses being made of reinforced steel meant that they were both bulletproof and blast proof. Again, when you understand Bruce’s history and his struggles with anxiety, it becomes obvious why he was so concerned with having materials to work with that were as sturdy as reinforced steel, especially when you find out what he wanted to do with them.

A Bomb Shelter?

Bruce took the buses and dismantled them, and then proceeded to take the disassembled pieces and welded them together. He created a massive metal box in this way, which he took out to a large plot of land that spanned 12.5 acres near his property.

Source: Atlas Obscura

Bruce requested help from friends and neighbors and they all began to dig on this massive plot of land. They dug until the hole was 14 feet deep, and could fit the entirety of the steel structure that he had created from the disassembled school buses.

Sealing the Box Off

Bruce and his team then covered the steel structure with dirt, making sure that it was secure in the ground before they took the next step. Once it was sufficiently covered, they proceeded to seal in the steel box with concrete, ensuring that the structure made out of steel buses would never move or be moved again.

Source: Marta Iwanek

Bruce was very careful in the way that his steel structure was created, and the way that it was sealed into the ground. The plans of the structure reveal that the the steel buses were used very carefully to create a maze inside the structure. Bruce was very concerned with safety regarding his creation, and his reasoning behind the building reveals why.

A Prepper At Heart

Bruce was part of a subculture known as “preppers,” or people who believe that the apocalypse is coming. He fled the United States with his family in an attempt to feel safer in the world, and while it worked somewhat, he still wanted to take a step further.

Source: Marta Iwanek

His underground steel structure was part of that plan. To Bruce, the end of the world is nigh, and ever since he was a little boy, he’s been ready for nuclear winter to come and strike the earth, changing humanity forever. It doesn’t matter that it hasn’t happened yet; in Bruce’s mind, it’s always an incoming possibility.

Bruce Wanted to Build a Community

Bruce wasn’t selfish in his desire to keep things safe in the event of a nuclear apocalypse. The underground bunker that came to be called Ark 2 – after the Noah’s Ark bible story – is enormous. It spans over 10,000 square feet of space, meaning that there is plenty of room for others to come and stay with Bruce and his people, assuming its necessary.

Source: Marta Iwanek

Bruce planned for this eventuality while building the steel structure. Some of the amenities that he built into the bunker include a built-in well system for fresh water, multiple entry points for people to find their way into Ark 2, a subterranean kitchen to ensure that anyone and everyone living there was fed, and more.

A Proper Commune

Bruce estimates that Ark 2 could handle up to 500 permanent residents, should it come to it. He made plans upon plans for the people that he wanted to help with his structure, but did concede that if people were going to come and stay in the structure that he built, they were going to have to follow the rules.

Source: Youtube/Your Morning

Some of these rules included showering the moment that they came inside the Ark, not being anywhere near the Ark in the case of illness, and having men and women separated by gender once they were inside. Not due to any prejudices or moral expectations, though. Bruce simply wanted to make sure that as many people could stay in the ark as possible, and separating residents by gender was his way of ensuring that.

Bruce’s Life’s Work

The Ark 2 has been Bruce’s life work ever since the structure was initially completed in 1985. It has been an ongoing project to ensure that the bunker is maintained throughout the years, and he has attempted to add on to the bunker as technology and the world progresses.

Source: Youtube/Your Morning

While some have looked at Bruce’s efforts and seen them as noble, or at the very least admirable, not everyone sees his attempts at safety that way. Notably, the Canadian government had been trying to get Bruce to shut down the Ark for years.

The Bunker is Technically Illegal

The crux of the problem stems from the fact that the bunker was built entirely illegally, without any permits of any kind to ensure its safety. This is not for lack of trying, though; during its initial construction, Bruce did petition the Canadian government to try and get permits for his bunker project, and they denied him.

Source: Youtube/Freaktography

In lieu of formal government approval, Bruce used a structural engineer to supervise the project and ensure that it was as sound as possible. After all, the point of the bunker was to be a safe haven for humanity in the event of the apocalypse. It wouldn’t be a very safe space if there was the constant risk of the construction failing and collapsing in on its residents.

Canada Doesn’t Approve

Funnily enough, the Canadian government didn’t see a private contractor as sufficient proof of the bunker’s safety. Over the years, they have served briefs and cease-and-desist orders to Bruce and his little team, to the tune of more than $250,000 in government costs and more than 30 court hearings in an attempt to shut him down.

Source: Youtube/New York Post

The local fire department has even gone so far as to shut off the entrances to the Ark, twice over the years. This left Bruce with the complicated question of how to get back into his bunker, a task in which he eventually succeeded. The most recent attempt to shut down the bunker was in 2015, though for the moment, it appears that they Canadian government is uninterested in Bruce and his antics.

Personal Problems, as Well as Legal Ones

Bruce has also faced challenges with his personal life regarding the bunker. From the beginning the project was more or less a full time occupation, and it is something that has occupied him for the better part of his life. Fortunately, his wife is fully supportive and, to this day, does what she can to try and help Bruce with the bunker project.

Source: Youtube/New York Post

Bruce’s children are less understanding. Bruce started the project when they were young, and they’re now adults with children of their own. While they love their father, both of his children have stated that the bunker project is not a lifestyle that they want to be a part of, and they have done what they can to separate themselves from the Ark.

Bruce and the Ark are Ongoing

The idea behind the Ark is noble, and for people like Bruce, entirely logically sound. There’s always the risk that something drastic will happen that will change the way we live – looking at you, COVID – but living in fear of the potential apocalypse is a good way to drive yourself a little crazy.

Source: Youtube/New York Post

Bruce doesn’t care about public perception of him and the Ark, though. He admits that there will be those that think he’s crazy as well as those who think he’s a genius, and the only thing that matters to him is that he feels like he is doing everything he can to live in line with his values. While it might not be an orthodox method of living, it’s certainly fascinating.

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James Cross

Written by James Cross

James Cross, an enigmatic writer from the historic city of Boston. James' writing delves into mysteries, true crime, and the unexplained, crafting compelling narratives that keep readers and viewers on the edge of their seats. His viral articles, blog posts, and documentary-style videos explore real-life enigmas and unsolved cases, inviting audiences to join the quest for answers. James' ability to turn real mysteries into shareable content has made him a sensation in the world of storytelling.

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