At Albion College, rumors have been spread about the underground tunnels beneath the campus. One rumor suggests that the tunnels are haunted catacombs. Another claims that the tunnels were part of the underground railroad, a network of routes and safehouses used to help enslaved people escape to the northern free states.
Some students on campus maintain belief in the haunted catacombs rumor. Heather Phipps, Flint junior, said they felt the underground tunnels are haunted.
“I don’t intend on going down there at any point,” Phipps said in an online conversation.
The ghostly rumors of the haunted catacombs likely stems from the fact that not much is widely known about the underground tunnels. A lack of concrete information could have inspired the imaginations of the student body to create ghoulish ideas about the mysterious feature of campus.
The second rumor that the tunnels were a stop along the underground railroad is likely the result of misinformation. An archived article published in The Pleiad on Feb. 13, 1987, titled “Reporter investigates underground,” addressed the rumor about the tunnels being part of the underground railroad.
“What I have supposed were rat infested secret walkways or a sort of Albion College underground railroad is literally ‘a bunch of hot air,’” wrote Paula Erickson, former Pleiad reporter, referring to the steam that passes through the tunnels. Even over 35 years after the article was published though, the same rumors continue to be spread.
Vice President for Marketing and Communication Cathy Cole said via email that the tunnels are “small, tight passageways for large and small pipes and cables that carry essential utilities through campus.”
According to Director of Facilities Operations Nathan Salazar in an email on Oct. 13, the underground pathways are not pointed out to students because they pose numerous hazards, such as poor lighting, tight corridors, hot pipes, high-voltage wires and, scariest of all, poor cell service. For these reasons, facilities operations do not allow students in the underground pathways.
Salazar wrote that facilities operations “does not like to draw attention to [the tunnels] so as to protect the health and safety of everyone on campus.”
The lack of information about the underground tunnels is intended to keep away students. However, the blend of potential student curiosity, the lack of information and misinformation may have led to the creation of rumors.
Attempting to keep knowledge of the tunnels at a minimum has seemingly only sparked the creation of more questions, proving that the further something is hidden, the harder people try to figure out the truth.