Monday, March 2, 2009

Exploring Fort Totten's mystery tunnel

From the Daily News:

The visitors have heard the urban legend about an escape passage built between Fort Totten in Queens, to Fort Schuyler in the Bronx, where the Long Island Sound and the East River meet.

Historians, park rangers and common sense suggest it is a myth. The technology needed to build a tunnel under more than 100 feet of water, simply didn't exist at the time, they maintain.

But speculation has been stoked by tantalizing clues - including dead-ending corridors and walled-up chambers in both forts. The enduring tale prompted the History Channel to run a segment on it recently.


-Joe said...

Is that Bob Diamond in the photo ?
Hahaha the good old old boys Fort Totten apparently had a "private" bar and deliverys during prohabition.

I know what that is having lived in Manhasset.

Tunnels like that exist off Sea Cliff, Oyster Bay and Manhasset Bay. ....and their are MANY others on private property

One by the Christ Church & Quacker house and up Shelter Rock road to the Vanderbilt Mansion.
(The latter was part of the underground railroad now part of the water treatment system)

They were Civil war ammo tunnels later used and expanded by Run Runners.
They are very narrow, unstable and scary you have to be a midget to crawl them.

Some of the homes still have trap "delivery" doors in the basement covered with cinderblocks.

All I will say is the tunnels lead to the low tide water line (now covered over) but dont tunnel under water.

Anonymous said...

There are legends about hidden tunnels that lead down to the East River in Astoria. Supposedly, a friend of a friend found a skeleton in one.

I have never been able to ascertain whether these tunnels ever existed. According to the Queens Historical Society, no. But in addition to the tale of my friend, I also saw a story about them in the New York Daily News 30+ years ago.

Anonymous said...

Oh They exist. Plenty of them ---talk about it and the army corps of engineers comes with cement trucks destroys them
.....NO THANKS !

All it takes is one 1blabbermouth as people have learned in Montauk

Anonymous said...

What happened in Montauk? Am unfamiliar with this story. Also, Astoria tunnels were allegedly sealed with cement, but I don't know if or why they were created, supposedly for trash disposal is what I heard. So the rich didn't have to carry garbage through the streets.

Anonymous said...

didn't have to carry garbage through the streets.
Not garbage

Was for RUM and Moonshine for the rich during prohibition!
A secret tunnel 1 car stop ledge and door also exists today under the Waldorf Astoria.
It said Roosevelt’s automobile would be flat cars via the subway tunnels and railroad yards to this door.

This way nobody would see he needed a wheelchair. It was also used for underground whiskey and Rum.

Must be 100's of these forgotten Civil war ammo tunnels around NYC and Long Islands bays and inlets.
They are GOLD to the property owners.

Anonymous said...

These rails and tunnels below the city were never really a secret -
--HOWEVER the doors, acess and elevators that could lift automobiles to and from underground garages, Hotels, buildings are.

Presidents, Generals and United Nation people usually reserve the option to enter or exit the city through this underground egress's.

Funny how 50 years after FDR was driving his car IN the subway New York City still fights tooth and nail to prevent the "little" people disabilities from having easy access.
This crap has been going on since the forties.

As we say in New York:
"Now I’m just sayin’
I dont want "Freddy" getting pissed off and coming after me.

Fort Totten said...

There has never been an underwater tunnel at Fort Totten. The urban legend is put forth by people with vivid imaginations and nothing better to do with their time.

The Sound is too deep (130 feet) to put a tunnel. There are no plans that show a tunnel, either contemplated or constructed. The technology of the 1860s was inadequate to build such a tunnel, and since the fort was never completed, there's no way a tunnel would have been built.

Anonymous said...

I was the acting Supply Sgt in 1967 and had access to an area in the old fort that had huge doors and the inside area was full of civil defense supplies including food etc. The interior was very large and extended toward the sound. I could not see the end of the space but it was very deep, dark but dry. The floor sloped down like it was going down hill and into the darkness. I was told at the time that it was a tunnel and I know it was wide enough to drive two trucks side by side. I just don't know how far it went. It makes sense that they may not have had the technology to build under the sound but what I saw was extraordinary. I think the area I saw was close to the shooting range. We used to qualify with carbines there.

I can't remember who I was with but they had the keys. It may have been someone from the S-4.

Good story though. Maybe Larry Schevenius from Bangor Maine might know if he is still with us. He was the E-6 Supply Sgt. who I worked for when he returned.

Donald Holzman HQ Supply 1967

Fort Totten said...

Mr. Holzman, what you saw were old mine assembly rooms. They had arched walls & ceilings, and only went a few yards into the hill, about 40 feet above the waterline. They never went anywhere near the Sound.

Fort Totten said...

The tunnel with the sloping floor went down to the Water Fort and no farther.

The rooms with the Civil Defense supplies had flat floors and were originally mine storage rooms. They did not extend far into the hill, and only had doors on the front, facing the mine assembly building.