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Monday, April 25, 2016

Underground tunnels

There are ten notable underground tunnels in Texas, some pretty, some weird, and some bat infested. 

This post is about the Washburn Tunnel, but I’ll briefly touch on the rest for anyone interested in tunnels.

 Washburn tunnel
I remember going through the Washburn Tunnel (under the Houston ship channel) as a child.  This thing is dark and very long, 742 feet under water of all things.  There are small lights near the ceiling at intervals.  All of us kids were always nervous when Daddy drove under there.  The tunnel runs from Galena Park to Pasadena.  It was built with 1950’s pump technology making it flood proof but we still didn’t feel any better about this.  After all, there was lots of water overhead.

Clarity Tunnel

Clarity Tunnel is another interesting one that sits in the panhandle of Texas near Quitaque.  This tunnel was the last working railroad tunnel in Texas and today part of it is a hiking trail in Caprock Canyons State Park.

The Super Collider Tunnel

The Supercollider Tunnel in Waxahachie has a strange story.  This 14-mile tunnel runs under Waxahachie and was never finished due to costs overruns.  It started out as a $4.4 billion project but ballooned to 12 billion before congress pulled the plug.  Today everything is abandoned but the property is for sale in case anyone has a bright idea on how to use it and the money to finish it.

 UT Tunnel
UT Tunnel is a seven-mile tunnel under the University of Texas at Austin.  This one is an enticing dare for spelunkers who want to explore.  There was even an independent film made about this one in 2005.  You can imagine the mind could go wild with all sorts of ideas for an abandoned tunnel.

The Rio Grande Tunnel

The Rio Grande Tunnel was built in 1959 in Big Bend National Park in south Texas.  It replaced a road called Dead Man’s Curve.

The Tandy Center Tunnel

Tandy Center Subway is in Ft Worth.  For 40 years this tunnel took shoppers from the parking lot to shopping destinations, a whopping seven-tenths of a mile long, until it closed in 2002.  It was supposedly the only privately operated subway in the country.

 Old Tunnel - this one looks interesting
Old Tunnel near Fredericksburg is a 920-foot tunnel that is home to three million bats in season.  Visitors head there at sunset to watch the bats take flight.  The tunnel is part of the smallest wildlife management area in Texas (about 16 acres).

 Addison tunnel

Addison Airport Toll Tunnel is 1600-feet of tunnel under Addison airport in suburban Dallas.  It costs $20 million to build and will cost you 50 cents to ride.  Below is a modern picture.

 Downtown Houston tunnel
Houston’s Downtown Tunnel system houses seven miles of stores and restaurants.  “It can be busy down there during August when everyone is sick of the heat and not stupid enough to go about sweating themselves to death on the mushy asphalt known as downtown,” according to Tom Wolfe in The Right Stuff.  Today it’s a hodge-podge down there with curious empty stretches so consult a map if you intend to visit this place.

 This is the cemetery at one of the entrances to the Satanic Tunnels
Lastly are the Satanic Tunnels of Athens.  Some people 
are convinced the town sits over a tunnel system shaped like a pentagram.  One of the five entrances to this tunnel is in Fuller Park, which is also home to the Fuller Cemetery, so you can see how these urban legends get started.  There are only two graves in this cemetery as far as anyone knows, Medford Lee Fuller and his wife, Virginia.  After her death in 1938, Mr. Fuller built the cemetery.  I guess you were allowed to do that in those days.  There are rumors that their child is also buried there.  There is no grave marker, but supposedly a bench is his tombstone.

There is evidence of animal sacrifices in this park.  Residents are sure that rituals and Satan worship are alive and well here.

The park during the day is like any other park with nice trees and a place to relax, but at night it’s eerie and creepy with lots of bats and unexplained screeching noises.  If you venture further into the park there’s a dilapidated old barn full of life’s remnants and an old, rusted out tow truck. 

They say Fuller Park is always cold, even in summer.  Enter the tunnels if you dare.

The second entrance is in the country club, but the other three have never been found.

Pictures and info from the Houston Press.


  1. Fascinating with all the tunnels! Truly it scares me driving through one; I'm always glad when I can see light again and the literal end of the tunnel!


    1. Betty,

      It does me too. We used to be so freaked our as little kids driving under that Houston ship channel. We thought we'd never reach the end of that tunnel at the time.

      Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.


  2. Were you with us the time Judy Hoffman drove us through the Washburn Tunnel? She told Ted he had to hold his breath or the bridge would cave in and we would all drown. We would breathe really short ones when we turned our heads but Ted was getting all red faced until someone really thought something would happen to him so they told him the difference.

    1. Thea,

      I remember that. Unfortunately, Ted was the butt end of many of our jokes in those days. Kids will be kids, I guess. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.


  3. Bat infested tunnels? And there's a Pasadena in Texas?

    1. Liz,

      YES, Texas has bat infested tunnels AND there really is a Pasadena TX.

      Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.



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