Labyrinth - Saint Paul tunnels

If there has ever been any tunnel system that made the discovery of an underground pirate ship around the next corner seem almost possible, it was the maze of ancient sewer tunnels beneath Saint Paul.


The entire system, well over a century old, was rife with giant sewer rats, albino cockroaches, hand-carved tunnels, bricked off passageways, and bizarre architectural features. Some tunnels were entirely brick, others were brick lined below and raw sandstone above, while still others were carved out of the naked sandstone without any reinforcing walls.


To travel through the sewers usually meant walking on narrow ledges, hunched over beneath the low ceiling, straddling a trench of raw sewage. In some stretches the tunnels were too low to walk at all, and we were forced to crawl, liquid sewage burbling right beneath us. At least one person would slip on the narrow, sandy ledges each time we ventured through these tunnels. The invariable sequence of sounds: a thick splash, an all-too-literal exclamation of "shit!", followed by laughter from everyone else the person laughing loudest usually being the person who had been laughed at for getting a shitty sewage shoe the last time.

Rats scampered ahead on the ledges, disappearing into the hundreds of dead-end side passages that brought sewage into the tunnels from individual sewer connections. Their eyes would glow blood red as we they watched us hunch past, unwelcome intruders in their kingdom. Many of the oldest side passages were catacombed with rat burrows: the unwary explorer crawling through such an area would place a hand or knee on apparently solid ground, only to sink down into a rat burrow beneath the soft, sandy surface. We wore thick gloves.
While some tunnels were still active, much of the system was totally abandoned and disused, the sewage trenches choked with sand. In some areas, this eroded sandstone created "underground beaches," with the kind of soft, white sand normally associated with a tropical paradise, not a sewer system far beneath Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Incident Report:
Ancient Writing & Flushing Doom

In which Action Squad flees from the sound of a giant toilet from Hell.

The History of the Saint Paul Sewers
Stolen from Sigrid Arnott and edited to our liking

Sanitation legislation in the United States began in mid-19th century cities, where crowded conditions encouraged the spread of disease ... (read more)