APAD #CBS: The well..wet underground

Punny rock-band references aside, the ‘wet underground’ in this case refers to the now-popular, yet, barely-accessible and rarely-visited tunnels!

<Trivia: Columbia university buildings are connected by a series of underground tunnels, which, over the years have been used as nuclear shelters, transport passages for scientists working on the Manhattan project, for heating systems and pipes, transporting coal and for routine maintenance….and now, as a means for tunnellers as a means to channel the ‘daredevil’ inside them>

How can one NOT want to tunnel after knowing this history!? I came to know about them 3 weeks ago..and since then I’ve been obsessed with them – to the point that I dug up the internet for all sorts of maps/hints/clues about the tunnels*.

Now the more involved and resourceful tunnellers use spelunking, lock-picking, climbing through vents and other such borderline crazy techniques to access them. Due to lack of tools, time, the will to do extreme stuff and great aversion to rule-breaking, I just used the more conventional way – finding an open entrance and sneaking in (of course, I had my share of silent alarms, one-sided doors, angry guards and security cams, but I ensured that I was on the right side of the law)

Through the cracks of the locked Mudd Roof

A teaser of the view from Mudd Roof

After 7 dead-ends and locked doors, Ab and I finally got our first taste of success – a tunnel below Mudd full of its characteristic graffiti, insignia by some famous tunnellers of the past (Benoit being the most noteworthy of them – he even has a WikiCU page) and the famous rat-doodle, which can be found in almost any tunnel. That, along with pipes and trails of a now-defunct railroad gave a whole ‘urban ruins’ feel to the place – it was beautiful!

Signs on the Tunnel-entrance below Mudd

Signs on the Tunnel-entrance below Mudd

Our next tunnelling attempt was finding the remains of the Open water nuclear reactor – Mudd’s Triga II. This one was amazing in that there are workshops and laboratories right next to it, but hardly anyone is aware of what the door they often walk past and neglect holds! I was almost staring at the disbelief at the imposing wall – I mean, it’s not everyday that you walk up to a nuclear reactor!


My tunnelling adventures end with the Triga II and the basement path – and with that I check a significant item off the bucket list.

*Compilation of tunnelling resources:

Tunnel entry-points (contingent on the door being open:


Reference to rats and other insignia:

Good info of roof-ing:

good links:


Benoit’s story:

Interesting video:

firsthand info:

Some background, for the ones interested in its history:

2 thoughts on “APAD #CBS: The well..wet underground

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