This article ran in the Jan 21-27, 1999 issue of The Other Paper, which is a free 'alternative' paper in Columbus. I met John Rush at Tee Jayes at Morse & High on a Sunday night. We talked for a coupla hours, and two weeks later, I was (in)famous...

Campus Underground
A tunnel traveler brags on the Web
By John Ruch

Next time you're on the OSU campus, take a look around. See any power lines running to the buildings? Nope. Any fire hydrants? Uh-uh.

They're all underground. OSU's heating, water, power and fiber-optic lines all run down a vast network of tunnels that link nearly all campus buildings together.

Most colleges do it this way. And most have students who figure out how to get into these tunnels and use them as secret passages.

"Tunneling" has been an underground sport for as long as colleges have had tunnels. But now it's considered part of a growing international subculture called "urban exploration."

Its aficionados explore quasi-public places such as hotels, city halls, abandoned factories, drain systems and utility tunnels, then post their stories on the Internet.
OSU's tunnels are featured on a site authored by a student calling himself the Mad Bomber. At, the Bomber presents "Under OSU," his account of sneaking into OSU's utility tunnels.

The site, posted late last year, comes complete with maps and a story of meeting a menacing raccoon. Text includes a sarcastic commentary on OSU ("Watch out for serial masturbators!"), anti-vandalism warnings and a disclaimer: "This site is for informational purposes only!"

At a recent meeting with The Other Paper, The Mad Bomber turned out to be a nondescript young man. He said that as a kid, he dabbled in computer hacking and exploring abandoned buildings near his home - including an old factory where the movie Best of the Best 3 was filmed (he found parts of the script).

He learned about tunneling on Internet sites. Intrigued by such items as the UCLA tunnel system - whose explorers painted permanent direction arrows on the walls - he started his own tunneling last fall.

The Bomber said he accessed the tunnels through an unlocked hatch and the maintenance room of an under-construction building. "I just followed the sound of the steam going off," he said.

The Bomber said most tunnels are big enough to walk in, though he had to crawl through some 3-by-3-foot sections. Many of them lead to maintainence rooms in basements.

He found the tunnels hot, dry and dirty, packed with pipes that frequently spurted scalding steam. So far, he's covered about two blocks of tunnel - out of an estimated 14-by-6 block area.

Photos the Bomber provided to The Other Paper show graffiti from previous visitors, including a giant peace symbol with the phrase, "Vietnam: Love it or Leave it."

The Bomber said he's found many odd items in the tunnels: student IDs, an action figure shoved into a hole in a pipe, a bottle of liquid mercury sealed with wax and hidden in a hole in the wall.

"I like leaving things intact," said the Bomber. "Unless they're really cool."

The Bomber said he thinks he also found a control box for the university's class-bell system, which he hopes to tinker with someday.

His exploring equipment includes a long-sleeved shirt, flashlight, backpack, Swiss Army knife, water bottle, paper clips) to hold doors open) and index cards for mapping.

Why publicize his admittedly illegal activites on a web site? "So I could be the first one to post it. And to get more people to come with me." (In fact, the Bomber was pretty irritated when The Other Paper declined an offer to go tunneling.)

While the Bomber sometimes worries about injury or less thoughtful kids trashing the tunnels, getting caught doesn't deter him at all.

"I don't know many campus cops who'd chase somebody down a dark and dirty tunnel," he said.

That article was published on Thursday, January 21. I got off work around 11 PM, came home to check my hits for the day, and when I tried to load up my page, all I saw was Angelfire's logo and the words "Couldn't find that page." In case you've never seen what that page looks like, you can check it out here. I reposted my site as fast as I could, albeit at a different address. Nobody knew it was there, of course. But a nice fellow named Ninjalicious was kind enough to offer me free web space free. Being the greedy soul that I am, I accepted.
This article was pretty decent. That fact that it was about me was pretty cool. Some of the lines made me look like an anarchist, especially that bit about wanting to tinker with the bell system, and the part about not getting caught. That last line about the cops is just the kinda thing that would make cops want to go down there, just to nab my ass.
The Other Paper posted a follow-up the very next week. Read it.