Around the age of 12 (1980), I began hiking throughout the countryside with my friends. One buddy, in particular, lived in the hills just outside of town. The view of the lake from his house was amazing. I can only imagine what that property is worth today.

My buddy and I would walk the hills from sunrise to sunset. Sometimes we would forget to bring water and stagger back to his parent’s house on what seemed at the time like the edge of death. Fortunately, I’ve learned my water lesson since the sixth grade.

During one of our all-day hikes, we came across something unexpected: Several underground single-room dwellings. No more extensive than the size of my kitchen, each bunker had been constructed to serve as a residence.

I remember the construction as follows. First, the dirt had been removed, and a heavy wooden roof had been added flush with the ground. I’m not sure if sod had been laid across the ceiling or grass had grown over the dwelling, possibly a combination of both. A small hole and ladder provided entrance, and a barrel stove had been used as a heat source. Inside, the remains of shelves and personal items were strewn about from corner to corner.

A few of these small bunkers had already collapsed over the years, and the one we explored looked as though it may cave in at any moment. When my friend and I returned the following summer, that’s what had happened during the Winter. The roof had collapsed, prohibiting any further opportunity to examine or explore.

According to my buddy’s folks, the tiny homes had probably been built during the Great Depression when times were challenging across the United States. I’m confident we were scolded for our recklessness—not uncommon in those days. Looking back, the chances of discovering one or more Rattlesnakes would have been relatively good. If you were reading my blog last Summer, you might remember I was nearly bitten by a large Rattler while working out by The Buckley Air Force Base. Do boys ever learn?

Joseph Shanklin

June 27, 2021

3 thoughts on “Growing Up On The Reservation [Underground Homes]

  1. While reading, I was thinking the bunkers may have been great depression ear…
    I remember exploring the woods near my house growing up, on one occaion we found a hunters tree stand with railroad spikes for hand/footholds and a platform about 20 feet up or so. Of course, we told our parents we didn’t climb up there… On another occasion we found skulls. Turns out they were either deer or cow bones. We thought we had found something cool.

    Liked by 1 person

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