What lies beneath: the Brock tunnel system

Homecoming seems pretty convoluted to some. All the face-to-face interaction, direct sunlight and social environments may be isolating to introverted students — which is why a different type of event was also offered — the Tunnel Tours. It was an opportunity that would make urban explorers weep in excitement.

Photo credit: Steve Nadon/The Brock Press

Photo credit: Steve Nadon/The Brock Press

 

Underneath the Brock University campus lies an approximately 1.6 km long tunnel system. While many think that the Schmon tower was the first building to be constructed on-campus, the Central Utilities Building (along with the lengthy tunnel that connects it throughout the campus) had begun around the same time.

On Sept. 20, there were two one-hour tours of the tunnels for alumni and students. Both tours were sold-out and filled with people who were either former or current students, many of whom had no idea of the tunnels’ existence. While the premise of 30 former and current Brock students heading down to a dark and ominous tunnel system seems like a fantastic horror movie idea – it was far more educational than chilling.

The primary purpose of the tunnels are to house piping and electrical wiring and transport it all throughout campus. If you’ve ever turned on a pipe on campus, then the water came to you directly from these tunnels.

The heating and cooling of the entire university is also extremely dependent upon the tunnels. So if you’re ever cold in your residence – you now know where the problem lies. The tunnels were so lengthy that throughout the expansive corridors, there were bikes leaning against the walls for servicemen and custodians to ride just to get to the other side.

After about half an hour of exploring the dungeon-ess twists and turns, the tour leader took the group out to the Central Utilities Building, located just a short trek down the escarpment behind DeCew Residence. There, the group of 30 was treated to a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of engine and boiler rooms that would’ve otherwise been off-limits.

The main engine room was lined with generators — the space was so loud that everyone was required to wear ear plugs just to enter the room beside it. Beyond the noise, the generators themselves looked like the great machines used by the Wizard of Oz at the end of the film.

We’re so lucky in Niagara to have cities that have so much history, especially surrounding the War of 1812. While these tunnels weren’t built in 1812 and weren’t for the purpose of war – they will hopefully make you question what you think you know about your immediate environment.

As fun and educational as the tour might have been, it’s almost unsettling that for the past three years there was an elaborate tunnel apparatus standing under my feet, of which I (and many other students) had no clue. If you ever get a chance to go on a tour of the tunnels, make sure you take it.

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