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Guest Skull&Bones

Old Chicago Freight Tunnels

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It's simply amazing, the things people do, like making tunnels and all. The idea of making a secret , miniature railroad under the streets of Chicago! How do you suppose they kept it a secret? And all dug by hand! Incredible.


When I was a kid, my parents moved from the South Park area of Houston (a working-class, redneck suburb back then---now a mostly black, low-income neighborhood with a bad reputation for drug-dealing and gangbanging) to West University. West-U wasn't very upscale then, although now it's becoming rather expensive. (The house my mom sold for $32,000 in 1972 recently sold for $256,000 and it is not in very good shape.)

The big selling point for West-U is that it's close to Rice University, here in Houston.


My new pals here saw Rice as a big playground, and we were over there on the Rice campus a lot. Once we found an unlocked maintenance door and sneaked in to see the boilers and stuff in the basement, and discovered tunnels under Rice University. They are steam pipe tunnels, for carrying steam heat and hot water to the various dormitories.

We loved the steam tunnels at Rice. We used to get all dressed up in black clothes, like "Mission Impossible," (a popular TV show back then) and go over and sneak into the steam tunnels at night on the weekends. It was scarey, and it was fun, but nothing as cool and bizarre as the Chicago Tunnel Company tunnels! Man. Too cool. And too scarey, if they sprung a leak! You probably wouldn't get ten minutes before you drowned.

Rice's steam tunnels were nothing like that.

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