For fifty years, Bruce Beach was building his own city in rural Canada. It was entirely underground, made out of buses - and the government spent $250,000 trying to stop it. Why? Here's the truth behind the wild tale.
The Unusual Collection
Bruce Beach fled from the US to Canada during his younger years. But at 86-years-old, after settling in the neighboring country, he began a strange collection. The determined man started buying old school buses in a rush of energy and momentum, drawn to the reinforced steel on each bus's roof.
After amassing a horde of old buses, Beach had another idea to tie into his unusual collection. He had to start digging, so he could secure a storage site for all his buses and other belongings and keep them hidden from the rest of the world. But why would someone want to be so out of sight?
His Secret Plans Underground
Over the years, an intrepid and passionate Bruce began building an astonishing maze within the buses, all beneath the snowy terrain of rural Canada. He may not have known it, but he was actually building one of the most astonishing sights on the continent. And as he built this strange maze his fear and dedication only grew.
But as his construction continued to remain underground, the Canadian authorities, too, continued to try and stop him, only they had more trouble than expected when it came to actually finding Bruce and his collection. He had been working endlessly to create something truly remarkable, but what did that call for?
Moving Across the Border
Born in Winfield, Kansas, Bruce grew up in one of the most turbulent periods in the history of the United States. The Cold War blasted through the country, and the Vietnam war followed soon after. Bruce saw everything and found himself unable to deal with the tension and fear enveloping the nation.
With panic and uncertainty, Bruce made a plan. He gathered all of his belongings, and along with his wife and children, he fled to the apparent haven that was Canada. Once they arrived, his actions shocked everyone, including his family. Few could comprehend the route his life soon took.
He Was Scouting for Safety
In 1970 the young family decided to settle in rural Ontario, in a small town named Horning’s Mill. His wife had grown up there, but as it turned out, that wasn’t the reason for their move. Instead, Bruce had come to an important conclusion: The village was the perfect place to start digging...
Still affected by the situation back home, Bruce felt he had to take every precaution to ensure that his family could live happily, and most important of all, live safely. He still felt uncertain about their future and felt that Horning’s Mill was the best place to prepare for any trouble that might arise in the years ahead.
Bruce spent 5 years priming his new and unusual collection of out-of-use school buses. From 1980 onward he purchased any and all old buses he could find, paying around $300 for each machine and having them delivered to an open field near the family residence.
12 years and $12,000 later, Bruce had successfully purchased 42 school buses altogether, a mind-blowing amount for just one man. He felt that the buses were a necessity, a one-way ticket to safety for himself and the Beach family. He began making plans, taking the buses apart and joining them in the shape of a large box.
Digging a 14-Feet Pit
But there seemed to be a method behind the madness. You see, all of these buses were made from the same material: Reinforced steel. They were essentially blast-proof. On the open field where he had had the buses delivered, Bruce began digging around the vehicles.
He dug a stunning 14-feet pit that he could fit the buses inside. And in a strange turn of events, he began covering them completely, submerging them in the earth. But how did he believe all this digging would keep his family safe? As it turns out, Bruce’s plans were shocking and difficult to understand.
Making a Shelter
Soon enough, his entire collection of buses was fully underground, and the plan was complete. Using 2 feet of concrete, the entire complex was soon blocked off to the outside world. Bruce’s vision was finally coming to fruition, whether his family agreed with him or not.
Bruce could have used this fascinating maze of metal for a number of things - an art installation, a quirky museum, you name it. But it had not been built for show. You see, the maze actually formed something: An underground shelter on a mind-blowing scale. But why did he take such drastic measures?
The Birth Of Ark Two
Upon completion, Bruce named the structure “Ark Two.” At over 10,000 square feet, it soon became known as one of the largest subterranean complexes on the entire continent. As far as he was concerned? Ark Two would not just hopefully house his family, but protect them from a threat of biblical proportions.
According to Bruce, Ark Two could contain up to around 500 people. Well, that may seem excessive to us, but to Bruce? His underground vault was going to need all that space, as he believed people would need it desperately at some point in the future. But still, the exact purpose of the structure was unclear.
Who Would Be Allowed Inside
Despite all of this space, Bruce was incredibly careful about who he let enter his steel complex. Those with infectious diseases and illnesses were barred from entry, as he was terrified of sickness spreading. Again, his highest priority was safety, so this all seemed to make sense.
In fact, he even had strict screening procedures for anyone who wanted to visit Ark Two, as well as high standards for behavior while inside. Bruce was afraid that any outside visitors might contaminate the structure, so he had to keep track of everything that was coming in and out. His goal was to ensure sterility and hygiene.
The Decontamination Process
Did we mention that it also had 7 different entrances? That’s right! While it may seem excessive to most people, it was very helpful for Bruce. Before anyone could go through one of these entrances, they had to undergo the screening process to ensure minimal risk. Part of this process even included a shower upon entering Ark Two.
Bruce built an entire decontamination chamber, through which every visitor had to pass through before entering the ark. It was the only way he could be sure that no one would taint the safety of the complex. It was his mission to make sure that no diseases could enter - and with good reason.
But Bruce was not the only one working on the project. He needed professional help to make sure that every part of the ark had structural integrity, and he needed a structural engineer to ensure this. Without a fully licensed professional to help build, he could not keep Ark Two as secure as he wanted it.
Would a professional structural engineer want to be involved with such an otherworldly project? As it turns out, they would. An engineer soon came on board to help secure the ark and was apparently captivated by the underground bunker. So, he stuck around to see Bruce’s vision come to life.
Stocked With Plumbing & Generators
As people soon found out, Bruce had struck gold. The engineer supervising Bruce’s project had been the same engineer to oversee Toronto’s major subway system. He was clearly more than qualified to assist Bruce on his quest and make sure that the bus ark was made as safe as possible.
Over time Bruce not only ensured structural integrity, but he also stocked Ark Two with a fully functional and all-encompassing plumbing system, as well as 3 months' worth of diesel generators. But as impressive as this was, he was going to need more than even that.
Supplying The Bare Essentials
People need more than toilets and showers to stay safe and sound after all. But Bruce had foreseen everything. He even built a well within the underground system that could supply drinking water for all inhabitants, making Ark Two fully self-sufficient.
There was simply not enough security in an external water source, and either way, outside water was not worth the contamination risk. Bruce had thought far ahead in regards to water. But that was not the extent of Bruce’s plans for self-containment.
Preparing a Feast For 500
If you’re a soup fan, you'd love spending the night in Bruce’s bunker. Ark Two also had a large kitchen built to feed its inhabitants, stocked with an oven and a giant soup tureen. He even made sure that a professional cook was shortlisted for entry on the ark.
Not only that, but he continually made sure the complex was fully stocked with enough food for an entire army. He wanted to ensure that there would always be food in case of an emergency, but soon realized he was throwing away incredible amounts of food. He had to find alternative measures.
Separating Men & Women
Standards for entry weren’t the only strict precautions made for those entering Ark Two. Bruce also mandated that while living in the underground structure, all men and women would have to sleep separately. He believed that keeping families together would take up too much space in the ark.
At the end of the day, he wanted to fit as many people as he could by maximizing the efficiency of the space. All potential inhabitants of Ark Two needed to abide by these rules, otherwise, they would be barred from entry. But why were Bruce’s rules so strict?
Making Ark Two Child-Friendly
Over 4 decades of planning, Bruce really had considered everything. So, of course, facilities for children were also carefully thought out. How do you keep the younger inhabitants happy while living a new life underground? He needed to add to his system.
And that he did. His additions included a variety of things, from nurseries to classrooms as well as separate areas for nap time. He even had play areas with toys, games, and equipment such as bicycles and chess sets. But if you think that was all he had left to plan, think again.
But Ark Two didn’t just offer the basic essentials. Bruce had spent so much time planning out this subterranean structure that almost nothing escaped his blueprints. He wanted to make sure future inhabitants had access to everything they needed - this included a dentist chair, mortuary, and even a jail cell.
Bruce believed that the key to a successful society in Ark Two would be through discipline. He managed to install security monitors around the structure to make sure people wouldn’t step out of line. He even turned an exercise bike into a wheat mill. But despite all these precautions, people couldn’t live there forever.
Contacting the Outside World
But even if he managed to build a thriving and content society of 500 beneath the ground, it didn’t mean they could be fully separated from the world above. Bruce knew that Ark Two would still need to be able to contact the outside, and he had to figure out how to make it happen.
So how did he do it? Well, he somehow managed to set up a communication system through the radio waves. Apparently, the system could broadcast across AM and FM frequencies all around the United States and Canada. But why did he need to take all of these precautions?
He Feared an Apocalypse
We’re sure by now you’re wondering what was driving Bruce Beach to spend so many years and so many resources just to bring this strange idea to life. So here it is: Bruce was part of a group commonly known as “preppers,” people who believe that an apocalypse is imminent, and spend their lives preparing for it.
Not every prepper agrees on which apocalypse is most likely. Some believe the end of the world will be a literal act of God, whereas others believe it will be man-made, and even more, simply believe it was predicted in the Ancient Mayan calendar. Bruce had feared the end of days for decades, and the fear was still strong.
The 'Annual Preppers Meeting'
Yes, preppers are certainly a niche group, unique in the general population. But there are still a lot of them, and they even organize events so they can meet and discuss their future predictions and best methods of preparation. One example is the Annual Preppers Meeting.
Within the Annual Preppers Meetings, there are reportedly workshops run to teach preppers new methods for surviving the coming apocalypse they believe in. These workshops include titles such as “Surviving in the Wilderness” and “Zombie Survival Camp.” We can’t help but wonder what these preppers thought of Bruce’s plans...
The Price of Entry
It was hard for them to have an informed opinion because Bruce was extremely careful about who amongst the preppers got to step inside of the ark. In general, there was a very selective shortlist of those allowed to tour Ark Two, and even journalists had to prove themselves worthy before they could take a look inside.
It had been said that many journalists who wanted to enter the ark needed to perform a worthy act or provide some benefit to Bruce before they could go inside. What kind of tribute did they have to make? Well, nothing too serious, in fact: Chopping firewood. But they had to decide if it was worth it.
The Struggles He Faced
It turns out that building, supplying, and maintaining such a large complex came at a great cost to the Beach family, and not only in the financial sense. Keeping Ark Two running for so long took a huge toll, as Bruce spent so much time on it, and did most of it alone. But even after 4 decades, he could see no end in sight.
A few examples of the more taxing challenges included: Replacing a massive grain supply loss after rats got inside the structure, as well as exterminating them from the living quarters of the ark. There was a flood, a fire, and even acts of burglary. But there was more trouble on the horizon.
The Government Tried to Stop Him
In a somewhat predictable fashion, the local government of Ontario caught wind of the project and quickly decided that it must be shut down. In the eyes of the government and council, the entire complex was a safety hazard to Bruce and anyone else stepping inside Ark Two.
The ark lacked building permits, but not for want of trying. Bruce had spent years trying to acquire such documents but had continuously been denied. Over those 40 years, the local government spent over $250,000 trying to have the site closed, taking Bruce to court a whopping 30 times! Despite these obstacles, his goals remained intact.
It was the local fire department who took matters into their own hands. They decided to circumnavigate the legal system entirely, heading straight to Bruce’s property to physically close the ark, not once, but twice! It was up to Bruce to figure out how to get it open again.
In 2015 there was another threat from the fire department, who wanted to close the site down for the third time. In Bruce’s mind, all of these threats from the fire department and government were insidious attempts to destroy his plans to help people. But how did his wife and children feel about it all?
His Wife's Opinion on Ark Two
Sadly it appeared that those 4 decades of planning and building had taken their toll on Bruce’s family. But not everyone felt negatively about it. In fact, his wife Jean had been supporting him from the very beginning, helping with planning and taking care of Ark Two’s inventory.
In a true act of love and resilience, she stood by his side throughout those 40 years. Despite the difficult times that had led them to Canada from the US, they had made it through everything together. But Bruce and Jean weren’t the only members of the Beach family. What did their children think?
When it comes to their children, things are a little more difficult. As adults with children of their own, they have not hidden their feelings about Ark Two from the public. It seems they’ve said unequivocally that they are tired of their father’s survivalist ways, and have since washed their hands of the matter.
As fascinating as this story is, it should also be acknowledged that growing up around this unusual structure would be difficult for children. They were told from an early age that the apocalypse was imminent, raised in fear of the end of the world. But did it ever change Bruce’s plans?
He Continued On Alone
Forty years later, there has still been no nuclear devastation or biblical flood in North America. But Bruce was set in his ways, and never wavered in his convictions despite what his children thought. He felt he was doing what was best for mankind, maybe even better than others like him.
Bruce didn’t have high opinions of some other preppers he had met over the years. According to him, many were “far too focused on their own survival, and not thinking about helping their fellow man.” The purpose of Ark Two was not just to protect himself, but to take care of as many people as he could.
The Ark's New Name
Over time the ark gained a new title: S.A.F.E, or “Safe America For Everyone.” This second name fully encompassed what Bruce saw as the purpose of his underground complex. It was built to help others, to be a safe haven for people from all walks of life, despite how society might separate them.
Bruce had become the caretaker of the biggest nuclear shelter on the continent. People may call him crazy, but in the event of real apocalyptic destruction, he would become the leader of an entire society of people living underground. He made it clear that "all are welcome," as long as they respected the guidelines of Ark Two.
The Ark is Only Temporary
Despite all the decades of prep, the ark was not meant for permanent habitation. As per his own calculations, Ark Two only had the capacity to support 500 people for a maximum of 3 weeks. But even that was a worst-case scenario. Bruce felt that the bunker should be a place to "refuel, rest, and continue on to the next safe place."
It’s clear from this story that Bruce had nothing but the best intentions when building this fascinating structure. But despite that, he had failed somewhat to truly prepare for the reality of nuclear fallout. But even if Ark Two would not be successful in the apocalypse, he still had a heartfelt message to share.
Hopeful For The Future
Despite all of the terrifying images Bruce had conjured in his mind over those 40 years, the possibility of nuclear winter wasn't entirely without hope. He believed it would usher in a new era of human history, an era that would rehabilitate the earth and birth "a new type of humanity."
Over those decades Bruce Beach had gained much attention for his mind-boggling feat of architecture and engineering. Some supported him, while others were left skeptical and confused. Regardless of what others thought, one thing was undeniable: Ark Two is a stunning testament to one man’s fierce drive, passion, and determination.