Wright State University Tunnels | Photo by Daniel Delgado | The Wright State Guardian
In 1966, the foundations of the Wright State University (WSU) tunnel system were formed after electricians connected the infrastructures of academic buildings. As of 2021, the tunnel system offers students the ability to travel the majority of campus without stepping foot outside.
History of the tunnels
The famous WSU tunnels were not originally designated for travel purposes. A tunnel system was created in 1966 to connect the electrical infrastructures of Allyn Hall and Oelman Hall, the first academic buildings on campus.
“Once Oelman was completed, faculty members and students began to sneak down to the tunnel during the winter months to travel between buildings without having to go outside,” WSU activist and records manager Chris Wydman said in a recent public statement.
It remains unknown as to when exactly the tunnels began to be used for student and staff travel. By the 1970’s, plans were in the works to expand the tunnels into what students know them to be today.
Gaps in the history of the tunnels have led to various conspiracy theories regarding the true origins of the tunnels. One of the most infamous conspiracy theories remains the tale of the “Mole People” from the 18th century.
Navigating the tunnels
Over 55 years later, the tunnels now connect all academic buildings across the main campus, making it one of the largest university tunnel systems in the world.
“The tunnels really are a lifesaver when the weather sucks,” WSU student Cal Kahoun said. “I really like having a way to move around campus without getting completely soaked in a storm.”
WSU students and alumni find themselves grateful for the tunnel system maps posted every few feet.
“The maps make it so easy to figure out where you are and how to get where you need to go. I found it difficult to get lost in the tunnels throughout my time at WSU because there was always some sort of indicator nearby of where I was,” WSU Alumni Julia Boyd said.
Students and staff can enter and exit the tunnels via elevator or stairs in all academic buildings. WSU students are not permitted to jog, bike, skateboard or rollerblade in the tunnels, according to the student handbook.