The Carleton Tunnels

My senior year, I was finally able to cross another item off the Carleton bucket list: get into the school’s underground tunnels. They are currently forbidden to students, but that hasn’t stopped pretty much everyone and their mother from sneaking down there. Well, everyone except me that is.

Then, I was abruptly informed by my supervisor on a Wednesday night that I would be given a key to the tunnels to do a small photo job for the Dean’s Office. When that job was done, I took the liberty to snap a few photos for my own pleasure. I was able to explore some of the passenger tunnels that link several of the East side dorms (formally women’s housing), originally established to enable warm travels in the winter, eventually becoming a canvas for crafty and intellectual graffiti. The tunnels closed in 1988 due to security reasons, but the art is still there. Every now and then, current students add their signatures, poems, and drawings to the clandestine gallery of Carleton history.

Being down there is not only hauntingly ensnaring, but easily spooky. Pipes clang and whirl, sounding like a poltergeist, or the footsteps of an approaching security guard. Yet it feels more lived in than any of the old buildings; there’s the heaviness of spirits come and gone, and you sense that quintessential Carleton curiosity more in the tunnels than in any edifice above the ground.

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