Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Tunnels Under Portland?

Recently I found mention on the Bangor Urban Explorers' site of the possibility of an early subway system begun under the Portland streets but never completed.

Having never heard of such a creature before, I headed straight to the source (Maine Historical Society) and asked about whether this was rumor or fact. Here is their very helpful response, which mentions at least one existing tunnel I'd never heard of before:

We don't have any information about Portland planning a subway and it's nothing we've heard about as hearsay. Every once in a while these tunnel questions come up -- tunnels in the Old Port and things like that. There is a tunnel running under Congress Street between the two Press Herald Buildings. Don't know of any others.

So, the search continues. It would be a great thing to start a verified catalog of the tunnels, don't you think???

13 comments:

kate catalyst said...

I think the catalog is highly neccessary. There is a room on the third floor of the library supposedly containg a map of these tunnels, but an updated one, of the condition of these tunnels would be cool! i've heard of bums residing in some which let out by the east end bridge, and a man from the space told me of some "passage ways" down by their band room. also oakstreet and meca are connected (via the space) but demolishin/blocking due to LLBEan has destroyed the path. the state also has some connection.
good luck and happiness to tristen and michelle at that horror movie marathon thing that happens to a pretty special event thing...
love to all

Dogclocker said...

There is a half mile tunnel which starts in the sub basement of an old school in the Portland area. There is a steel door which seems perpetually locked, as I have checked it several times at different hours. Using a compass and Google Maps, a friend of mine told me the tunnel leads to the future, which is actually corroborated by the city planning board. Weird.

Michelle said...

Dogclocker-- I think that's the best one I've heard of yet!!! Hmmm... ahhhh, the future!

Anonymous said...

I've heard of several possibilties, one by my Grandfaher of a tunnl leading to fort gorges from portland evn though people claim impossile, also a tunnel leading from the victorian mansion to the waterfront used during the underground railroad, and of course a tunnl mor modern crossses Congress St. from the Portland Press Herald building across the street to the building that used to print it, I've been through that one all tiled walls and lighting. undr the parkiing lot at the top of forrest and congress is a small hut at the enterance which leads to a undergrouung bowling alley, when the ally was built they discovrd a tunnel in bad condition there.

Anonymous said...

A secret tunnel in Machias, Maine, is linked to legends of the Underground Railroad. In fact, the freed-slave London Atus apparently oversaw the actual tunnel for he worked for the county building roads in the exact vicinity (corner of Court and Broadway Streets) in May of 1789. Indeed, the fabled tunnel is located less than a mile away from the former black settlement of Atusville. People who traveled through part of the tunnel in the 1950s have made descriptions that indicate that the subterranean structure is but a short passageway to a much larger system of caves.

The Sac Sisters said...

The original Portland Press Herald building was where David's is now in Monument Square. While restoring the penny tiles on the floor and the original brick work for the restuarant that was located there prior to David's the owners of what was to be one of the sharpest Burger Kings ever built, Ken and Don McKellar found a hidden room. When entering the restuarant it is the room in the back on the right. The room was bricked up. Upon taking down the bricks you then stepped up a couple steps into an office that looked as if it were part of a prank. A man's wallet and keys were still on top of the desk, a coat and hat hung on the coat stand and black and white photos hung on the wall of workers, working at the press. This room was a time capsule. While all that is interesting here is the relavant part - There are two staircases that lead into the basement of that restuarant. One on the right, under the kitchen and one on the left which takes you below the seating area to the restrooms and an office. When you go down the kitchen stairs you go past a slide where deliveries are sent in through and through another doorway past what was a soda machine and then a walk in fridge and freezer ( not sure if they are still there. Then the basement continues on and there it is. One bricked up tunnel door to the under ground tunnels of Portland.

The Sac Sisters said...

I have also been to the tunnels in the late 80's when we took a school trip to the Portland Press Herald building. They took us downstairs through the tunnel which was tiled and lite up across or actually under Congress Street to the other side where they printed.

Michelle said...

Sac Sisters-- That is great! I worked (briefly) in the Burger King at that location, so I'm familiar with the layout. I'm dying with curiosity to see if that room was left as is or documented in any way...

Degnan said...

Interesting... I grew up in Cape Elizabeth and a house down the street from me on shore road was built by the owner of Portland Press Herald in the 20's... The house has over twenty secret passages and hidden rooms... coincidence???

Peter Lang-Stanton said...

i'm a journalism student trying to find stories on abandoned tunnels/catacombs, etc. around Maine. Does anyone have any tips or leads? (other than the ones already posted, which I am looking into). Is there anyone will to help me access on of them?

Michelle Souliere said...

Peter-- There was a great article about Portland's underground spaces in the Phoenix last year. You might want to start there! :)

http://portland.thephoenix.com/news/152995-underground-downtown-looking-beneath-the-streets/

Peter Lang-Stanton said...

thanks Michelle! i really appreciate it

Anonymous said...

Behind the museum at bug light ... I used to go under fort Williams tunnels before they blocked them.