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U of A Steam Tunnels page 1

Home | Gallivants (Adventures) | The Team

This is so cool, I have to go to the bathroom!

A gateway in the main tunnel

We came inches from untold amounts of raw energy

The main tunnel

        I had wanted to infiltrate the steam tunnels at the University of Arkansas for months. Even after the Gallivanters got inside the construction site for the new parking deck there, I was not satisfied. I wanted to be underground, dash it all. The problem was that the tunnel system was completely locked down. All three of us tried on two outings to find an entrance, but to no avail. To complicate the situation even further, I could find next to no information about these tunnels anywhere. The last trip made there was apparently in 1997 (I found this on the College Tunnels website). Maybe they locked it down because someone didn't use discretion and got caught or left a big story in their wake.

        Things didn't look good. The semester was about to start up. People were coming to campus, there was major construction with well-lit areas, and in a matter of days, all three of us would be going our seperate ways for !*&% college. I thought it would have to wait, indefinitely. If no one had been down there for close to six years, maybe it just wasn't meant to be.

        You can imagine then, when my dear sister mentioned casually that some of our mutual friends had actually "been into the steam tunnels down there! Can you believe it?!," I had to make a concerted effort to not completely flip out. She went on to say that the construction site on the southwest side of campus had opened the tunnel system wide open- as in no chains, doors or access panels. Okay, fine, I know: I'm a rookie. It's pretty sad when I wanted to go down there for so long and then didn't even know that the whole wiggin' thing was busted wide open during major construction. But my sister saved the day. One day I'll let her know about it.

        I got away as soon as possible, freaked out, then called Loki and Osiris. Much to the misfortune of us all, Loki had already shipped out to college. Osiris and I vowed to make this trip heavily documented for his sake. I called my campus buddy, one of the guys who my sister had said went in there, and got the point of entrance, and any other info he had, which wasn't much. I don't hink he went very far in. The infiltration was set for the following night.

        The night came. Osiris and I met at a neutral location just off campus, and waited for deep night. At 11 p.m., we checked our gear and headed out. We found the entry point, inside a fenced-off and well-lit area that was all ripped up. The opening itself was down in a huge hole about 12 feet deep. All this was well and good, but there were too darn many PEOPLE milling around. We had to head back.

        We sat and watched Cartoon Network for a couple hours,then tried again. We circled the site; there were few people around. It was past 1 a.m., and we decided to go for it. We squeezed through the fence, walked quickly across the contruction zone past huge sections of tunnel and backhoes. Then we dropped down into the pit and climbed into the side of the exposed tunnel.

        This appeared to be a corner of a tunnel connection. Ahead was a pretty big tunnel which was not lit and totally barred off. We turned to the right, shining our maglites down the other passage. It ran at a slope down under the street, and we could no see the end of it. I was pumped. It looked like it just went on forever. Osiris got out the digital still camera. I was packin' my parents' ancient full-size VHS camera, and I got that baby working as we began our descent. The tunnel went for about 150 ft. before we ran into a barred grate across the tunnel with a padlocked door in it. But there was enough room between bars for us to slip through, after we had slipped off our packs. Leaving these behind, we continued on with the cameras and maglites.


The ladder over the intersecting steamline

Some cable box or something. We didn't touch it "for fear of blowing up the whole freakin' campus."

U of A Steam Tunnels page 2