From SpannerBook: Scotty Hertz and the Tunnel of Secrets

It’s probably due to the ancient coding buried deep within our makeup that stories of secret tunnels and hidden chambers continue to thrill. Two thousand years ago, loads of humans on the planet lived short rough lives in houses that would qualify as earth bunkers. Ever wonder why some people call their living quarters “digs”?

(An iron age hut in the UK. Not much iron to speak of but it was home)

The modern era has done a fantastic job of suppressing our historic biological responses with a structured workday, alarm clocks, any number of devices and Red Bull. When something surfaces that triggers some of the old information buried within our timeline, we tend to freak out. Odds are excellent that the ridiculous massive response to the “what colour is the dress” meme comes from this reservoir of knowledge as well. We’ve each evolved a little bit differently yet seem surprised that these subtleties can exist between us. Lots of people can’t differentiate between red and green so if you’ve ever wondered why some of the traffic lights in our eastern provinces are designed with shapes and colours, it’s actually for safety reasons thanks to evolution. There isn’t time to break the internet with a debate over whether the light is red, green or grey.  Shades of stop and go are not allowed.

(Best not mess this one up)

The Toronto secret bunker story also appeals to that part of us that likes a good scary yarn of the kind that would have been told two millennia ago in a little hut before the PVR was invented. It’s a plot line used time and again in horror movies (Silence of the Lambs et al) or in every single police show. Last weeks episode of the new series Backstrom relied heavily on the well worn kept-in-a-bunker-by-a-creep storyline.

It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact reason as to why people cant get enough of this scenario, other than it touches something in our core. The recent real life clandestine diggers seem to be playing up the spookiness / police drama factor by leaving a rosary and remembrance poppy behind. A regular job site would actually have had piles of empty Tim Horton cups or copies of the Toronto Sun lying around. It would also have been incredibly obvious as to where the dig was situated. Since the possiblities are endless, so too is the speculation. The late Leonard Nimoy would have had a great time with this one on In Search Of. “Was this a nefarious den of doom or perhaps a party zone for the aliens and bigfoot of North Toronto?”

I feel it is my duty to reveal to you that there is indeed a network of tunnels below the feet of all who tread on the sacred ancient farm that is the University of Guelph. They aren’t very well hidden at all, for any time you walk from point A to B on the major pathways, at some point you’ll be directly overtop of them. Sorry if I’ve ruined any of the mystery for you but all large complexes of this type have the same setup. These passages are the route for the power lines, heating/cooling pipes and communications to most of the buildings, large and small. Some of them you can freely walk around in, others are no bigger than a large sewer drain. They are called utility tunnels in the business.


This is a particularly grotty example of a utility tunnel at Vanderbilt University, an incredibly lovely campus (when aboveground) in Nashville, Tennessee. That’s the heating/cooling pipes to the left with a probable asbestos coating running the length. To the right are the power cables, most of which have very high voltages that will take you out if you mess around with them. The river of water on the ground will help expedite the process. Feel free to speculate as to why there is a roll of toilet paper on the red cables to the right. Some clues don’t need interpretation.

To a student, these places hold a certain sense of intrigue and excitement.  Those who were able to find their way down there left fairly obvious clues to their presence such as beer bottles and graffiti. To a maintenance worker, life in the tunnels is a lot less exciting. A backed up sump pump flooding out a chamber and getting close to the main electrical feeds might sound like a Die Hard style adventure but it’s actually just another day at the office. If you happen to make it down there, which has become quite difficult, by all means gently leave your mark. But whatever you do, don’t touch anything, or in the future they may tell the story of the student who went down into the tunnels and died. “I heard they never found his body and his dying screams can be heard coming out of the grate on Winegard Walk on the anniversary of the day it happened.”

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