Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

In yet another weird home mystery, a man has discovered a 19th century tunnel beneath his house

Gary Machens shows off his cool new tunnel.
Gary Machens shows off his cool new tunnel.
Screenshot: FOX 2 St. Louis

At a certain point, we’re going to have to ask ourselves if there’s an influx of strange hidden places popping up around peoples’ homes or if we’re simply noticing them more now than we did before. Following the New Yorker who documented her discovery of a secret room behind her apartment’s mirror on TikTok and the other woman who did the same for the mystery basement hidden beneath her home’s carpet, a farmer in Alton, Illinois named Gary Machens has found an entire 19th century tunnel beneath his house.

Machens and his discovery were featured in a Fox 2 St. Louis news segment that explains how the tunnel was uncovered and suggests a theory for where it might have come from. The passage was found after part of the sidewalk outside his house started to collapse, and Machens found an entry to it.

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“Lotta brick. Whatever they built this for, it took a lot of men and a lot of hours,” Machens says in the clip, standing in the extremely well-preserved tunnel. “One guy didn’t do this.”

Local historians believe the space dates back to around 1840 and Machens knows that his own house’s history goes back to the 1890s. As he stands in the tunnel, moving his flashlight around the brickwork, Machens points out a set of stairs, offsets in the wall, and the way it begins to turn.

His current theories are that the tunnel was used as part of the Underground Railroad, as an ice storage area, a cellar, or maybe all of the above over the decades. (The video’s narrator explains there’s no definitive proof yet that the tunnel was part of the Railroad before cutting to an old man sitting in his car, who declares, “Well, I think it was part of the Underground Railroad. That’s what my theory is!” So there’s that.)

“So mysterious!” one of the anchors says with a laugh before introducing the segment. We agree. It is mysterious—not just because nobody yet knows for sure what the tunnel was used for, but also because it’s the latest in a wave of hidden places popping up in and around homes all over the country. Who knows? Right now you could be sitting above your very own mystery space. Ponder that tonight once the sun goes down and the dark sets in.

[via Boing Boing]

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.