The Twin Tunnels
The Downingtown Twin Tunnels are a place of fascination, with loads of spooky stories associated with them. Quite honestly , I had never considered that there was any truth to the stories. Teenagers pass them along to scare each other.
One Friday night, Chuck suggested that we traipse out to the tunnels to see what was up. It was a little embarrassing, since we were the only people over 30 in the tunnels. You have to ride back and forth again and again, stopping briefly in the center to try to do EVP work, because they’re so busy.
One of the oldest stories is of a woman who was despairing over having a child out of wedlock. She climbed up on the hill and hanged herself, holding the baby. As she died, she dropped the baby, and it rolled down the hill and died. The story is that if you stop in the middle of the tunnel and flash your lights, you can see the spooks of the mother and child standing in front of you, and you can hear the baby crying. We find this story a little hard to believe. Unless you’re in Cirque du Soleil, the ability to hang yourself while holding a baby is a little hard to swallow.
There's also supposed to be the ghost of a man who hanged himself by throwing a rope over the wire that crosses over the tunnels. This is also a high commitment procedure that seems a little more difficult than suicide needs to be, but who knows what drove him.
You’re supposed to be able to hear his feet scraping the top of your car, and tapping on the windows. Poppycock, we thought. So we were parked in the middle of the tunnel, and I swear that right next to my ear, someone tapped on the car window 3 times. I tried to convince myself that it was water dripping on the roof, but it wasn’t a sound from the roof – it was fingernails tapping on the window. I thought maybe Chuck had made the noise, but I turned back, and he had both arms out the window, holding an EMF detector and a digital recorder out the window in the traditional ghost hunting position. Chuck is not a Cirque du Soleil performer, so he didn’t have any way to tap on my window.
At another point, we were parked in the center of the tunnels, and we clearly heard a woman singing. It was just a hum, but it was loud enough for all of us to hear it.
We had our recorders going, but in Pennsylvania, we appear to feed our atomic waste to crickets. The mutant six foot atomic crickets were so loud that they drowned out the tapping and singing. We plan to go back in the winter when they’re dead.
The most famous is the "Suitcase Jane Doe" murder in the 1990s when a suitcase filled with body parts was found outside one of the tunnels. Locals suspect a motorcycle gang was responsible, but no one has ever been charged in the case. Inside the tunnel, there was to be a graffiti of a suitcase with an arm hanging down, pointing to where Jane Doe's suitcase was found. "Help Me" was spray painted beside the picture, although it’s no longer there. Some people have reported hearing “Help me!” echoing through the tunnels.
The first EVP we got was early in the hunt. It was our second pass through the tunnels. Just as we started in, we caught a disembodied voice whispering what sounds like, “Mary.”
The last story is a simple historical fact. When they were building the tunnels, safety precautions were expensive, and immigrant labor was cheap. A number of workers died in the process of building the tunnels.
On our last time through the tunnels, we stopped in the middle, and I shouted, “This is our last time through the tunnels! If you want to tell me something, you have to do it now! That’s when we caught the EVP that sound like “I died while rocks fell.” I think that we caught the disembodied voice of one of the unfortunate immigrant workers who died during construction.
There are older urban legends of a keeper, guardian, and hounds being spotted there, gargantuan protectors of the tunnels. These stories have been lost to time as the more modern ghost stories have gained traction.
The most compelling evidence that something weird is going on in the tunnels is the lack of evidence rather than what is there. As you face the front of the tunnels, there are three arches. The leftmost arch is for a tunnel with a stream running through it. The middle tunnel goes all the way through, and it’s completely dry. The third is the one that you drive through, with another tunnel halfway through, with a small gap in between. Those are the twin tunnels.
The creepiest of the tunnels is the middle one that has a dirt floor and runs all the way through. If you were a teenager who wanted to do bad things away from the eyes of adults, that’s where you’d hang out.
There’s one graffiti about 10 feet in. Other than that, the tunnel is completely clean. There’s not a beer bottle, not a candy wrapper, not a bit of graffiti. Even kids who push the limits and buck authority find the place too creepy to use it as their bat cave.
Based on all of our experiences there, photographic, audio, and sensory, there is something going on in the tunnels. Urban legends don’t survive for such a long time without being based on some sort of truth. We’re planning to go back, once the giant mutant crickets are silenced.
BACK TO INDEX