Men, it’s time to come clean about something: we all want to dig tunnels.

The news out of New York last week about a series of secret (and probably illegal) tunnels under the Chabad-Lubavitch synagogue in Brooklyn is bizarre, but it shouldn’t be too surprising: guys love digging tunnels. 

Sometimes they have a good reason for it. We don’t know the exact justification these young men will give for building the secret passage, but it fits into a long tradition of dudes digging tunnels when they really didn’t have to. Think about a heavy snowfall when you were a kid, like the one we had yesterday: first you build a snow fort, then the tunnel under it. Did it collapse on you or your friends as the snow melted? Sure it did, but you lived, right?

Most men don’t have the means to build a proper tunnel as adults, and the wisdom gained since boyhood tends to instill a healthy fear of being crushed by dirt and rock. But history is full of tales of eccentric rich men who were obsessed with building tunnels.

William Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck, the 5th Duke of Portland, was known as a rich recluse. What did he do while hiding away from society? Build tunnels. The duke built six miles of tunnels underneath his Nottinghamshire estate in the nineteenth century. Being a duke, he did not dig the holes himself, but hired an army of laborers to do it. Why? No reason. He just liked tunnels (and had an absurd amount of money). 

Joseph Williamson, a tobacco merchant, was — like Portland — an eccentric, rich nineteenth-century Englishman who spent loads of his own money to pay men to dig tunnels for him. Only he did it in the middle of a bustling commercial city, Liverpool. And again, no one is exactly sure why. Williamson was no recluse, but he kept his motives to himself. Some of the tunnels still survive and are a minor tourist attraction.

But it’s not just eccentric Englishmen. In America, men were also seized with tunnel mania. In the nation’s capital in the early twentieth century, Harrison Gray Dyar was an entomologist by day, tunnel-builder by night. When the tunnels were discovered in 1924, rumors ran wild about their purpose. But according to Dyar, it was just a harmless pastime. “Digging tunnels after work is my hobby,” he told reporters. “There’s nothing really mysterious about it.”

There are other examples — Wikipedia has a whole page on the subject of hobby tunneling and the discovery of one will occasionally make the news. Guys are making YouTubes about their tunnels. There’s a subreddit. It is a whole thing. Ever hear about an old house with an Underground Railroad tunnel? That was a tunnel guy who just happened to also hate slavery.

Let’s face it: guys love tunnels. Always have, always will. The story out of Brooklyn is the latest example, but it won’t be the last.

Kyle Sammin is Broad + Liberty’s editor-at-large.

7 thoughts on “Kyle Sammin: Men love to dig tunnels”

  1. Kyle, your article attempts to normalize bizarre behavior. They are creeps. Why did you avoid mentioning the mattresses? Because it is creepy. Wayfair Pizza gate Epstein creepiness. I see you. You look like a tunnel apologist. Who are you hiding in the tunnels?

  2. All the “be-nice” people: Go jump in a lake with those racist Obamas.
    These Jewish creeps dug tunnels in New York and had mattresses for kids. Super fact. The actual story is: young men in this specific Jewish community recently built tunnels in secret. When this Jewish community’s group’s leaders tried to seal it off, these young men staged a protest that turned violent as New York police moved in to make arrests.
    Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson had no comment.

  3. It is a mistake is to use the word “Jews” when meaning Oligarchs and communists occupying the C level suites of Fortune 1000 companies. For the most part Jewish culture encourages supporting each other, valuing education, and pushing for excellence. It should not be a surprise then, via the Pareto principle (80/20 rule, the law of the vital few or the principle of factor sparsity) that Jewish people rise to the top within various organizations and society.
    Communism is the problem, not Jews. And when Kayne West criticized Jews for running everything and literally had his bank accounts cancelled (which looked like they were proving Kayne’s main points) it was a good story to keep the majority of the population fighting amongst themselves.
    However, it is also a mistake to think that certain people should not be criticized because of how they identify. These specific Jewish men were up to illegal and seemingly nefarious activity – with a lot of mattresses. Somehow connecting what they were doing to the underground railroad is ridiculous.

      1. Kevin, I’m tired of all the damn stupid bullies like Dawn Stensland, Dom Giordano and others. They gush over the Obamas and Josh Shapiro racists and actually just want eyeballs for money. They do not care about results. They ignore “The Fall of Minnesota”, the farmer riots, and apologize for the crime and want us taxpayers to subsidize those that “can not help it they are just angry” BLM rioters.
        I would take a breath but the illogical masks you and others slapped onto poor kids make it hard to breathe.
        Kev, when Biden drops out after that idiot Trump secures the nomination… it is going to be a very different world. The rich are too comfortable. They should reread French revolution history.

  4. Kyle – eccentric 19th century rich guys, drug cartels, guerilla warfare fighters, and illegal immigrants like tunnels.
    Regular “Guys” – not so much. Maybe civil engineers, but they like a bridge now and then also.
    And Charles Bronson – he liked them until he almost got trapped in one. Then he didn’t like them.

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