Underground Steam Tunnels

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A notorious pastime of College of William and Mary students is exploring the underground steam tunnels under Old Campus and Historic Campus. The college administration has explicitly prohibited entry to these tunnels in the Student Handbook: "For reasons of safety and security...mechanical equipment areas and steam tunnels of College buildings are closed to all but authorized employees."

Despite the threat of expulsion and real safety hazards, hearsay and a few unofficial guides on the Internet provide students with resources on "tunneling" including points of entry.

The tunnels are said to connect to the burial vault located under the chapel wing of the Wren Building. In 1977, access to the crypt from the tunnels was blocked with a padlocked steel door to prevent vandalism. During that time, supposedly, it was popular for fraternity brothers to sneak into the crypt and steal a bone from the tomb of James Blair.

Unverified Rumors about the Steam Tunnels:

  • The college keeps the tunnels flooded to discourage urban explorers but use an automated drainage system when maintenance workers must access the tunnels.
  • One or more professors no longer employed at the college have escorted students through sections of the tunnels.
  • The secret societies on campus use the tunnels to travel around surreptitiously

Entrances to the Steam tunnels:


External Links

  • [1] A forum post about exploring the tunnels
  • [2] A forum post about exploring the tunnels
  • [3] A forum post about exploring the tunnels

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Questions? Contact the Special Collections Research Center at spcoll@wm.edu or 757-221-3090, or visit the Special Collections Research Center in the Earl Gregg Swem Library at William & Mary.

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The information available in this wiki is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of William & Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. Information in this wiki is not complete as new information continues to be uncovered in Swem Library's Special Collections Research Center and elsewhere. Researchers are strongly encouraged to use the Special Collections search tools for their research as the information contained in this wiki is by no means comprehensive.