Inside Steam Tunnels, Students Make their Mark

By Chris Lydgate ’90 | September 8, 2014

More than 100 incoming students descended into Reed’s labyrinth of underground steam tunnels last week on a series of expeditions led by Gary Granger, director of community safety.

The tunnels are among the oldest structures on campus and were originally constructed to house the pipes that convey steam from the Physical Plant to heat Reed's first buildings, including Eliot Hall and the Old Dorm Block. They are sometimes muddy, sometimes dusty, often difficult to navigate, and always mysterious.

Over the years, intrepid Reedies have found ways to lull the sentries, bypass the locks, and explore the subterranean passageways, leaving behind surreal artwork, mordant graffiti ("Simeon Reed's Country Club"), and the occasional garden gnome.

Granger invited new students to join the hallowed tradition and make their mark on campus—literally—by writing their name in the tunnels as they spelunked their way from Eliot Hall to the Old Dorm Block, the Quad, and various other campus landmarks before emerging into the brilliant sunlight (if that's the right phrase) of the Physical Plant.

Tags: Campus Life