The Ohio State University Steam Tunnels!

An Overview

Stay Out!Under one of the largest universities in the country lies a massive system of steam tunnels. What are steam tunnels, you ask? Also called maintainence, engineering and utility tunnels, the steam tunnels serve, in theory, one main purpose: to house the steam pipes, fiber optic cables, power lines, and/or water lines.

They are usually big enough to walk in, or at least crawl. Have you ever noticed the lack of power lines above ground on campus? And how about the lack of fire hydrants? Everything is underground.

The reason that the steam and water pipes are not simply buried in the ground is that the Physical Plant workers need easy access to the pipes (who wants to dig up 20 holes in the ground looking for a water leak? The City of Columbus, ha...they're always digging up pieces of the sidewalk and replacing them the next day. If they had tunnels, this wouldn't be a problem).

Actually the people who built OSU were pretty smart in planning for future technology, because the tunnels provided an easy way to route all the fiber optic cables to different buildings.

The tunnels also house other thing, like the bell system: all the buildings are connected on the same system. All of the clocks in the buildings have the exact same time (the ones that are hooked up to the system anyway). And since they are all on the same time, all of their class bells ring at exactly the same time (I don't really know why they even ring, considering that none of my classes are based on the bell schedules.)

By my not-so-scientific estimation, the underground system of tunnels is about 14 city blocks long, and 6 city blocks wide. Maybe it's smaller, maybe it's larger. I don't know if the tunnels connect every building. If they did, trips in the tunnels to places like the Library Book Depository would take forever, considering how far away it is (if you look at a map of OSU, the Book Depository is in K-1, #350, whereas the Main Library is E-6, #50).

One Last Thing (long way down)

Going into the steam tunnels is illegal. You are tresspassing! Enter at your own risk!

Don't spray paint the walls. If you feel you must mark your way somehow, use chalk.

Don't take anything that belongs to the school. When I say this, I mean, don't take that really cool push cart in Tunnel #1, but feel free to take the Sprite can from the 70's from that same tunnel. I wouldn't suggest even taking that, just so other explorers can see a piece of 70's pop-culture. The only thing I would suggest taking is PICTURES!

It's very probable that you could get hurt or killed.

In some sections of the tunnels are steam outlets, which release high pressure steam every so often. If you're standing to close to one when this happens, you could be badly burned. You can usually hear the jets going off long before you get to them, so you should be able to time it right to get past them. (I don't know if you can make it out in the picture above. The steam is coming out directly of the jet, which is located approximately in the middle of that image.)

Other parts of the section have bits of rusty metal sticking out, or decayed asbestos. Get your tetanus shots, kids! Wear a ventilation mask!

The Tunnels

Click below for various information, pictures and maps.

Tunnel #1

The Main Tunnels

Articles & Other Information

The Other Paper #1 The first article about this page, published in The Other Paper.

The Other Paper #2 My web site was removed by OSU after the above article ran, so the Other Paper ran a follow-up article.

The Lantern This was published in OSU's paper The Lantern

OSU Legends Not really tunnels, just interesting ghost stories/urban legends about Ohio State.

Other Links A great page about various places to go exploring, many great links to other places too. They run the Infiltration web ring.

The College Tunnels Home Page Info about tons of colleges all around the country and their respective tunnels.