The Mysterious Wonders Underneath the High School

The+Mysterious+Wonders+Underneath+the+High+School

Patrice Schnierle, Kyla Wells, Reporter, Editor

Crawling through a dark, confined space turning corner after corner, leading deeper into a sinister system of underground tunnels. What if we told you that while you’re anxiously tapping your foot on the ground while sitting in class, these passageways exist right under your feet. 

The tunnels, which have been around since before the high school was solely a high school and was connected to the old middle school, serves as a time capsule of Woodland Park High School’s past. Having many entry points, the tunnels are used to house pipes and other electrical equipment. The tunnels spread under all of the school so it would be easy to get turned around. The maintenance crew occasionally has to travel down to the depths of these crawl spaces to repair anything that needs to be fixed (busted pipes that have flooded the tunnels in the past). 

Due to the tunnel’s limited access, students have created stories about what they think their true purpose is and some people don’t even know that they exist. We asked students their thoughts on the subject and were not surprised by their lack of knowledge. Kylee Tring, a sophomore, was unaware of the mystery under her feet but was intrigued after hearing about it. However, senior, Jacob Simpson not only heard about the tunnels from his older siblings but also friends. He’s heard some of the popular rumors like “it’s a secret passageway for teachers and a hideout for students to smoke.”  The latter is supported by cigarette butts found throughout the tunnels. Former head of maintenance, Howard Drummond gave us some insight into the real truth. “I’d catch previous janitors taking a break in the tunnels while smoking doobies.”

The tunnels and their uses have fascinated us since we were freshmen and we finally took matters into our own hands. After meeting up with Christy Cornell, a security officer at the high school, we entered the boiler room by the aux gym. After walking down a flight of stairs, we gasped as we entered a room that looked just like a thrift store. Shelves and shelves of knick-knacks and props. Furniture covered the floor and without lights, the room couldn’t be more pitch black. To the right of the entrance, we saw a water heater that we had to move to gain access to the entrance. The door leading into the tunnels was so mundane the average person would never know what’s behind it. After stepping into the off-limits room, we ascended a small ladder and began our journey into the dark abyss while crawling on our hands and knees. Throughout the way, we had to dodge electrical wires and pipes making what space was available even smaller. Broken light bulbs and other materials were packed in with the inches of dirt on the ground. We found things such as news articles dating back to the 80s or 90s (chewed on my mice), old food packaging like vintage snickers wrappers, soda cans, and even a torn-up gift card. We started hearing faint conversation from what we thought were classrooms, but then just as we heard a girl’s voice scream “NO!”, we knew it was time to head back to the entrance. As we turned our last corner before our trek back, red and blue graffiti caught our attention and we scrambled to see what it said and document it. One of the writings said R.S.+S.S. in big blue lettering on the right side of the tunnel. The other works of graffiti said things like “peace” and other figures that can’t be made out. After we exited the tunnels and climbed down the ladder to safety, we noticed the absurd amount of dirt caked on our hands and knees. It was a breath of fresh air to escape the suffocating heat that radiated from the pipes below.

Howard, former head of maintenance at the high school, was very helpful in answering our many questions and telling us his experiences so we had something to compare our exploration to. To our surprise, when asked if he could ever hear any voices in the tunnels, Howard said, “the many times I’d been down there, the silence was deafening and no voices could be heard.” Howard also shared his reluctance to have to go to work in the tunnels a few times every year. He said this was a job that not many people were comfortable with because of the claustrophobic conditions and when you’re down there to clean up a bunch of water, it can get precarious. 

It was thrilling to be able to crawl where very few students have crawled before. We feel excited to document our experience first-hand and provide students with answers. The history of the tunnels is long and mysterious and we hope that WPHS students to come will remain interested in them and continue to keep the stories alive.