Today is Dungeon Adventure Day

As you must know, it’s legendary that universities are built on top of a network of tunnels full of steam pipes and cables and mysterious lost undergrads. My university is no different. We have one functional, accessible tunnel between the science building and the student union, but nothing else is easy to get to. We occasionally get a glimpse of more when the physical plant crew opens up a door to work on arcane things back in the mines.

Today, though, I made arrangements to get an official tour of the maze under our feet. The students and I are going to equip ourselves and enter the university’s very own dungeon. I don’t expect to find trolls or CHUDs or ancient artifacts or cunning, centuries-old traps that still work — ostensibly, we’re looking for the invertebrate inhabitants of the underworld. I know there are cockroaches down there, at least, but maybe spiders? Giant albino spiders lurking in the darkness?

One can always hope.

If I don’t make it back, all I know right now is that the access portal is somewhere on the east side of the humanities & fine arts building. I’ll expect you to organize a rescue party.


  1. wzrd1 says

    If I don’t make it back, all I know right now is that the access portal is somewhere on the east side of the humanities & fine arts building. I’ll expect you to organize a rescue party.

    Um, no. That’s the septic tank entrance, it’s a trap!

  2. Paul K says

    I graduated from UMM, but never got into the tunnels there. But I went to St. Olaf College (also in Minnesota) for my freshman year, and my roommate and I once found a small door, high up on a wall in the basement of our dorm, ajar. We, of course, climbed in, after going to our room to fetch a candle. We had heard stories of tunnels, but had not taken them seriously. But we were able to go from under our dorm to under several other buildings on campus. We didn’t want to risk getting caught by exploring every passage, so decided to, as best we could, try to head in the direction of the oldest building on campus, with the predictable name of ‘Old Main’.

    As a kid, I had spent a lot of time in caves along the Mississippi River in St. Paul, where I grew up. Those caves mostly had large tunnels, with high ceilings. These tunnels were artificial, but here, we mostly had to crawl between buildings. I don’t know how it happened, but I got very good at finding direction underground in those caves in St. Paul. We got to the foundation of Old Main with little trouble, and found all sorts of very cool old things stored there. The one that we found most interesting was a pile of old brass pipes from a huge pipe organ. All this stuff had decades of dust and debris on it. I know it couldn’t be true, but we had fun imagining that we were the first people to see this stuff in a long, long time.

    We left the tunnels after that, and left the door as we found it. We went back many times to check, but the door was always locked after that one time. We did crawl through lots of cobwebs, but were not on the look-out for spiders.

  3. says

    PZ, be careful or you will end up in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. Of course the only way out is to say, ‘XYZZY’ and you will be transported back to the spider lab.

  4. birgerjohansson says

    Remember, Yog-Sothoth is the finder of ways. Get his blessing before any major undertaking.

  5. says

    Oh, wait, that magic word only works in caves, not tunnels under college campuses. I guess you will just have to let the giant albino spiders eat you.

  6. birgerjohansson says

    Our hospital and associated University started construction ca 1960 so we have a disappointing shortage of old, bricked-up passages. 😔

  7. christoph says

    Let me know if you find the preshuss. And, BTW-we hates the thief Baggins. We HATES IT!

  8. mordred says

    There were persistent rumours about an underground tunnel between the CompSci department of my university and the biology department, though no one I talked to had ever found it.

    There was a bridge connecting the CompSci with the chemistry building – though that one could only be found at specific days, I never managed to work out the exact formula.

    Honestly that building did not need underground tunnels, the above ground parts were confusing enough – I’m pretty sure the architects used more than the conventional three dimenstons.

  9. vereverum says

    How do we know you are the you that went into the tunnels?
    Perhaps the you that came out was grown in a seed pod down
    there and just took over as the real you went by?

  10. Just an Organic Regular Expression says

    True story. About 1961 I was a floundering freshman at the University of Washington in Seattle. An older student I knew somehow acquired a key that unlocked the padlocks that held shut some of the grates on the manholes that accessed the utility tunnels that criss-crossed that campus (and probably still do, I suppose). On multiple late-night forays we raised a grate and went into the tunnels and tiptoed around the campus. It was very eerie; dark of course except for occasional bulbs at intersections; damp; echoing acoustics; occasional startling mechanical noises as pumps kicked on.

  11. says

    I did the same at UW in the 70s! My greatest discovery was stumbling on the bone room, where all the defleshed skeletons were stored in cardboard boxes.