In a quaint area of the United States, a strange migration is taking place.

No, it's not the grizzly bears or the bald eagles making this trek to a safer future. It's a group of humans, "pioneers", who believe they world is ending - and they're getting in early for the best chance at survival.

In 2011, a former U.S. Army Intelligence officer and the author of best-selling survivalist novels, James Wesley, Rawles (the comma is deliberate), wrote a call to arms on his blog,, urging libertarian Christians and Jews to "vote with their feet" and move to a rural section of north east America; Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and the eastern region of Oregon, and eastern Washington (where the "conservative" live).

"There comes a time, after a chain of abuses when good men must take action," he wrote.


"We've reached that point, folks!"

He called this new movement the "American Redoubt".

The area was the perfect spot, the most defendable, and plentiful. Should a comet plunge into the Earth and hordes of people flee our major cities, most wouldn't reach the rural haven in time (though a comet could hit anywhere on the Earth, Rawles affirms).

"I reckon it's statistically the safest place to be," Rawles told

"We don't have any natural disasters here because we're not in a volcanic region, earthquake or tornado region.

"The population density is very low, we're very far removed from major population centres so even if big cities got nuked or there was a pandemic, we probably would end up much safer.

"We're a couple hundred miles from the nearest ocean, the tsunami risk is low, but there's always what the economists refer to as a "black swan event" - and those are the totally unpredictable events. The technological sophistication is not just a burden, but a risk that is growing with every passing year."

Six years since he pressed publish on that blog post, thousands are flocking to what Rawles describes as a trend that's "definitely gathering steam". Some are "preppers", stocking the shelves in their bunkers and awaiting the end, some are Christians. And some might even be on the run from the law.

"A lot of people tell me they really felt that it was the Holy Spirit telling them to move here," Rawles assures.

"Things fell into place for them to make a move and after prayer, they felt convicted to make the move."

Official numbers are hard to come by, but Chris Walsh of Revolutionary Realty told The Economist he sells approximately 140 properties a year in the "heart" of the Redoudt at $30,000 a year. He's described it as a "massive upswelling".

Rawles describes the communities that live here as peaceful; almost like a utopia, where the food is fresh, the air is clean and the water, "plentiful". He says the people are "absolutely stunned" by the scenic beauty. The low population density. The low crime rate. The lack of pollution.

"You can look up at night and see the milky way. You can't do that in most of the United States, it's really unspoilt country."

There's no building permits required to build a house, or a pond, or a road, or to cut down timber, you just do what you want to do in your own land. There's no building code, so residents can build whatever style house they want.

They heat their homes with firewood because "trees grow like weeds out here". People engage in barter, an informal economy where individuals trade their tools or talent for extra fire wood or huckleberrys. They hunt game. And fish. And grow their own vegetables.

While he's right, there's also the knitting store on the corner selling all styles of ammunition and guns. Or the local petrol station with a big sign out front that says "ammo".

"There's a gun shop on every corner. We have this strange phenomena of combination stores, where you have a knitting supply store and gun shop or an electric store and gun shop. It's comical, it's like one-stop shopping.

"It's a whole different attitude here. It's really refreshing for people. It's like stepping back in time."

Despite the rural paradise, there's a greater benefit to living in the American Redoubt.

"It's very self sufficient, that's the reason I picked the area to begin with because as a "prepper" - or survivalist - I wanted to live in an area where people were self sufficient so that if there was any disruption, they would be able to press on and hardly notice.

"That's what you have here."

But what of our great end?

"That's one of the great imponderables. All I can say is that we live in a fragile society and as time marches on, we're going to become even more vulnerable."

It wasn't just the apocalypse that had Rawles in a spin, it was the loss of freedom, of government intrusion. Here, kids are home-schooled. Communities are conservative, Christian folk, mostly.

Yet despite all this, he swears the area is "open to all". African-Americans. Gays. Democrats, even.

"It's not xenophobic at all. It's not like its an exclusive club," Rawles said.

"There's a few - what we call rednecks - here, where you end up with people that are closed minded, but there's actually more cultural and racial animosity in the big cities that you see here.

"Out here, if a tree falls down across the highway, it's not like in the more populous states where you would call public service and have them remove it. Here, everybody just whips out their own chainsaws and takes care of it.

"People have to depend on each other, you can't afford not to like your neighbours because you may depend on them."

He says he supports US President Donald Trump ("he's a well intentioned man") but he sees that "we have the potential for considerable division".

"I'm not saying it will get to the point of civil war but we'll see a lot more civil unrest."

Despite being the public face of the Redoubt, Rawles won't reveal where he actually lives for fear of being "surrounded", should things fall apart.

He doesn't trust social media, considering it a "giant intelligence gathering vacuum that builds dossiers on people".

He can't tell when the end will come, but he believes the Earth will most likely be hit by a geomagnetic solar storm. A mass solar flare that will affect the entire Earth.

Until then, Rawles' shelves are stocked.

A barn close to Latah, WA. #barn #ingodwetrust #trump #donaldtrump #americanredoubt #conservative #republican

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