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Tunnels under FW


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#1 jefffwd

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 01:32 PM

From KHOU 11 in Houston:

Tunnel is Link to Texas City's Criminal Past :unsure:

http://www.khou.com/...-104634144.html

#2 Giraffe

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 05:15 AM

Now, that was a great article! Thanks for pointing us to it. [Wacky aside: I'd never known before what the phrase "Judas goat" meant; it was used once in an episode of the original _Star Trek_ and I inferred from the context what it meant, but this article defines it: a goat used to lead sheep to slaughter.]

I'd heard that there was an underground tunnel between Carswell Air Force Base and a very secure off-site storage facility where they kept munitions (such as nuclear bombs). I'm not sure if that "pillbox" is still being used for this purpose (if it ever was; I only read about it in the _Star-Telegram_ some years ago but haven't seen it myself). A tunnel underground would make sense for something like this.

One problem with tunnels is keeping water out. There are some folks who like to explore old tunnels like this, but it can be very dangerous because there's no telling what's down there. A "caver" may unknowingly run into an area where the oxygen has been depleted and pass out before being aware of what's happening; transients may live inside; or snakes. (You can tell how many people have found the tunnel beforehand by any graffiti that remains on the walls.)

I'd heard a rumor that there was a tunnel underneath the Federal Records Center in south Fort Worth that was supposedly large enough to drive trucks through, and that the tunnel ran all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. (I have a hard time believing that.)

#3 RD Milhollin

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 07:36 PM

One problem with tunnels is keeping water out. There are some folks who like to explore old tunnels like this, but it can be very dangerous because there's no telling what's down there. A "caver" may unknowingly run into an area where the oxygen has been depleted and pass out before being aware of what's happening; transients may live inside; or snakes. (You can tell how many people have found the tunnel beforehand by any graffiti that remains on the walls.)


One purpose of tunnels is getting water out, as in storm drainage tunnels. There are very interesting and old tunnels such as these under downtown. As an active caver (no parentheses needed) living far from karst (cave bearing) terrain I have participated in several "exploration" adventures under Fort Worth. I would argue that in the case of manmade tunnels there is no reason not to know what is likely to be down there. A little forethought tempered with experience should allow one to know at least 95% of what is down there. I have been surprised though: once I escorted a group in which one member was wearing sandals, against my recommendation (I strongly prefer sturdy rubber boots). About an hour into the tunnel system we began to encounter hypodermic needles, and the sandal guy wisely decided not to proceed further. I have not ever run into transients much further than 50 feet into a tunnel system, probably because of the propensity for rodents and quickly rising water. As regards "bad air" I would say this is highly unlikely in drainage tunnel systems if you mean built-up methane or carbon dioxide. Both are usually the result of natural processes in natural caves. An experienced Texas caver can tell quickly if CO2 levels are reaching levels that need to be considered. However, humans are often known to use terrible judgement in pouring all sorts of waste into holes in the ground, cave openings as well as storm water inlets. A quick way developed by Texas cavers (actually a Fort Worth caver) for assessing O2 levels involves a Bic brand lighter, but this could be disastrous in a passage containing methane. Luckily the sense of smell usually gives adequate warning of that or other hydrocarbons. Chemicals even more hazardous than gasoline or motor oil could be encountered, but this is less likely after a large rain event that tends to wash all accumulated debris and residues out of the tunnels.

A few years back the local caving clubs in the Metroplex hosted the Board meeting of the National Speleological Society (caving organization) and I took two vice presidents on a tour of the Fort Worth historic drainage tunnels. We found graffiti dating to the very early 1900's and a passage with "soda straw" stalactites over 4 feet long, significant even for natural caves. For the Dallas readers: before the North Central Expressway was excavated out and rebuilt I was part of a semi-clandestine reconnoissance mission to view and photograph the "flowstone" and "rimstone" formations that had built up in the deep drainage tunnels there over about 50 years... The "decorations" were massive and beautiful... assuming you like cave formations.

#4 Giraffe

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 11:11 PM

GREAT stuff, Prairie Pup! You taught me a lot. I hadn't known that some people had already been exploring such things. Are there detailed maps of what's underneath Fort Worth? Dallas, too?

I know a guy up in Pennsylvania who loves to explore old, abandoned railroad tunnels. But he often does it alone, which strikes me as being very dangerous. I guess the Northeast offers more opportunities for underground exploring because there are far more mountains (and, therefore, more tunnels; it's been populated much longer, so there are more things to explore; and BIG cities, such as New York City, have all manner of very old, abandoned things (such as private subways) that have been long buried and forgotten about.

What about the old Leonards/Tandy Center subway tunnel? What has been done with it since the subway was closed?




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