This article was published on the front page of the February 11, 1999
edition of the Lantern, which is an independant newspaper based at the Ohio
State University. I did an email interview for this one, I would have met Lacey
Bramblette in person, but I called the newsroom to speak with her, and they said
she didn't work there because she graduated. Hmmm...it sounded suspicious at the
time. I guess they were wrong...
'Mad Bomber' explores tunnels under university
By Lacey Bramblette
Lantern Staff writer
"Danger, no trespassing."
This might be found on the signs guarding entrances to Ohio State's
underground utility tunnels, but that's not stopping one student from exploring.
The stories and a pictorial tour by one OSU student, who calls himself "The
Mad Bomber" because of trips he makes into the tunnels, are posted on the web
site. These tunnels house the steam pipes, power lines and fiber-optic cables
for the university. The tunnels provide easy access for OSU physical facilities
workers. They also allow for few above-ground power lines or fire hydrants on
The Mad Bomber, who spoke to the Lantern on condition of anonymity,
grew interested in exploring the tunnels when he saw a web site about tunnels at
the University of California at Los Angeles.
"I figured that OSU had some, so I went exploring one night and found what I
was looking for," he said.
Now, The Mad Bomber enjoys exploring the tunnels to see where they lead. He
has been down in the tunnels four times, and has even given them some titles -
"Tunnel #1" is connected to the McCracken Power Plant and the "main tunnels"
cover most of the campus, he said.
The Bomber cautioned that the tunnels are not the nicest places on campus to
"They are extremely dirty and hot because of all steam. It is very humid,"
he said. "In some places, the ground crunches as you walk because there is so
much dirt on the floor."
He describes the tunnels as being very old and mostly made out of stone or
brick. Some of the tunnels are so narrow he has to crawl, but he can easily walk
through others, he said.
"It's dark unless the tunnel lights are on. I read that it costs each
student $222 to pay for the electricity on campus. No wonder; the lights are
always on down there," he said.
He said the steam pipes occasionally shoot steam into the air that can cause
Pipes running throughout the tunnels create further obstacles, but steps
have been built to allow workers to easily pass over the larger pipes.
He suggests taking a flashlight and wearing long sleeves to explore the
The Mad Bomber said there is graffiti in the tunnels, and he also found an
old Sprite pop can that he believes dates back to the 1970s.
In another find, he once came face to face with a raccoon.
The Mad Bomber also believes that the bells for classes and the clocks are
connected through the tunnels.
"I would actually recommend that anybody actually go down there. I mean, it
is trespassing," he said.
David Sweet, spokeman for the Department of Physical Facilities, believes
this is good advice. Safety remains a concern because of the high voltage and
hot steam, he said.
"It's a dangerous place and that is why we don't want people down there," he
Workers from physical facilities are checking to make sure there are signs
posted warning of trespassing and danger, but they cannot keep all the tunnels
locked because the workers need easy access, Sweet said.
"It is trespassing and is punishable. It is not a safe place and there is so
much liability," he said.
The physical facilities workers will notify police if they see anyone in the
University Police Chief Ron Michalec said that if caught and convicted, a
person could face up to 30 days in jail and a maximum $250 fine.
"We're working with physical facilityes and we're watching the tunnels," he
Meanwhile, physical facilites officials are making sure The Mad Bomber's
exploits don't become a student trend. They had the Mad Bomber's original web
site taken off the Internet, but that didn't stop the tunnel explorer.
"I expected OSU to have a reaction, but I didn't expect my page to be taken
down without notice. As soon as it was taken down, I put a new one up," he
Physical facilities officials had the second website removed, but the Mad
Bomber just created another site.
"In the meantime, a fellow tunnel runner was nice enough to let me put my
site on his server," he said.
Although physical facilities officials have not attempted to take the third
site down, they have turned the case over to legal affairs, Sweet said.
"The reason we shut down his website is we don't want him telling people how
to get in there," he said.
For now, The Mad Bomber continues to explore and report his experiences at
"I see what's around this corner, what's down the tunnel," he said.