The Underworld

Underneath UDM lies a series of tunnels that have a history of their own.

Each building has its own set of tunnels that connect to the other buildings on campus.

“The tunnels were built at different times,” said Dave Vandelinder, director of facilities management. “They were built in early 1927 and connected the original buildings, which were Lansing-Reilly, Commerce and Finance, Architecture and Engineering.”

Most of the buildings have access mainly because the tunnels are used to house a series of pipes and electrical lines for the university.

In fact, all of the electrical lines for every building run through the tunnels, which is why no utility poles found on campus.

There was a rumor that in the university’s early days, the Jesuits would walk to class through the tunnels, but Vandelinder said that is very unlikely.

“Most buildings have access, but some of the tunnels you can’t walk through,” he said. “The rumor that the Jesuits used to walk to their classes wouldn’t be possible now because some of the tunnels are difficult to travel through with the water piping.”

The tunnels may be difficult to maneuver, but Russ Heatwole, the manager of facility operations, said that a few students manage to get into the tunnels.

“They are not supposed to do” so, said Heatwole. “We don’t want them down there because the steam pipes are very hot and it is easy to get burned.”

Public Safety usually handles the students who do get caught in the tunnels, though Heatwole couldn’t recall the last time a student was caught or injured in the tunnels.

During the winter, the steam rising from the tunnels causes the snow to melt, but it also causes spring to come early in a way, Vendelinder said.

“The snow over the tunnels generally melts first,” he said. “Near Sacred Heart Square, the heat causes the tulips to bloom too soon.”