Something you probably didn’t know about the state of Alabama is that its southern area has the highest density of caves in the US. However, aside from the state being a cavers paradise, there are other mysterious things happening in Alabama’s underground.
While caves are most often naturally occurred structures that result from water friction far beneath the surface, tunnels are man-made structures. The reason why we switch from caves to tunnels is because of the mystery they entail. One can not help but wonder what motivated someone to build that tunnel? What was the reason behind that immense structure so far beneath the earth’s surface? What was it used for as some are older than atomic bomb bunkers? All these are viable questions and while we can try to shed some light on these mysteries, some might maintain their secrets, which is just part of the appeal.
Before you embark on a trip to visit all of these tunnels, however, you should know that not all are open to the public. Some for safety reasons while others for privacy reasons, wandering through may be restricted to the general public. But let’s see what tunnels in Alabama sparked our interest and the stories behind them.
Downtown Foley Tunnel
The city of Foley, Alabama, is located by the Bon Secour Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, with a population of over 23,000 after an acceleration over the past two decades. While the city is close to the water, the downtown area is developed but maintains a general structure of the previous century. Because of that, the Foley Tunnel is of interest.
Now is the Foley Tunnel even real? How did it come to be? Did it have a purpose when it was built? Well, the tunnel is very real and it even has an owner of sorts. In the 1940s there was a man named John Snook who had two businesses in town. Both were located in the city’s downtown area and the businessman wanted to have easier access from one business, the Gulf Telephone Co, to the other, the historic Hotel Magnolia. The reason behind his desire, historians say, was to avoid the rain or other less comfortable weather conditions. This was possible as the two businesses were located close to each other. And like that, in the 1940s, John Snook built the tunnel.
The owner’s desire to avoid bad weather wasn’t the only reason behind the structure. During that time, the Korean war was ongoing and John Snook was worried about Soviet Union attacks on the Gulf Coast. As a prominent member of the Foley community, he wanted to ensure that the citizens of his city would be able to get to safety in case of an attack. This is probably why the tunnel resembles a bomb shelter. During the Downtown Foley Tunnel construction, John Snook and his wife, Marjorie, found a cannonball from the Civil War which is now on display in Hotel Magnolia which Marjorie Snook still runs.
Aside from the literal bomb shelter built by John Snook, he also made sure that the women working in his factory were also trained to shoot guns and basically be prepared to do anything in case of an attack from foreign powers. Doing this in public, out in the open kind of way, drew some attention to his practices, even from a Russian magazine in 1962 who wound up calling Snook’s sharpshooting female employees, Snook’s Nylon Army. The man was ahead of his time in more than one way and his wife is ready to share the entire story with those stopping by the Magnolia Hotel.
Birmingham Water Works Tunnel
The city of Birmingham, Alabama, is located in the north-central area of the state and is home to around 207,000 residents. While stories of mysterious tunnels beneath Birmingham have been fabricated to inspire awe and shock in 1884 by Joseph Mulhatton, some tunnels exist beneath the city. The first one that we’ll cover is the Birmingham Water Works Tunnel.
Around the 1880s, the city of Birmingham needed to find a way to get the water from the Cahaba River to service downtown Birmingham. To get that kind of water distribution to a city that will only grow, the Birmingham Water Works Company designed and built the tunnel. While the water is drawn from the Cahaba River and then into Homewood but from there on, the tunnel channels the water through a 12-foot diameter incline of over 2,000 feet through the Red Mountain.
The construction of this tunnel is monumental for the time it was built and the reason behind the construction. What is known about the tunnel is that the interior is supported through periodically placed brick arches and that there is a strong, large, metal gate that allows entrance to the large cast-iron gate valves in the tunnel. General access is prohibited due to safety reasons but the tunnel is no longer used to supply water to the city. It remains as a vestige of history for those passionate about our country’s great mysteries.
Stock Tunnel at Sloss Furnaces
Run-down industrial buildings have a certain charm to them. They are like living ghosts, shells made out of iron, concrete, and brick that hold the memories of those who lived, worked, and died there. As we completely understand the fascination inspired by these structures that give off a post-apocalyptic vibe, we’ll remain in Birmingham, Alabama.
Back when Birmingham, Alabama, was the worlds’ biggest producer of pig iron, the Sloss Furnaces were working 24/7. Sloss Furnaces is what placed Birmingham on the world’s map as the Iron City and Steel City, the factory’s role being detrimental to the city’s development back in those days. However, from producing pig iron for approximately 90 years, the environmental regulations imposed by the Clean Air Act of 1971, stopped the Sloss Furnace production. Since then, the factory lay abandoned, collecting rush, mold, and overgrown weeds that give it the air of a post-apocalyptic haunted house. People shared that they had encounters of the paranormal kind deep inside the tunnels from the Sloss Furnace and the tourism industry is milking it all. The deep tunnels, the maze of pipes, the lofty towers, and the rust that gathered throughout the factory make it a thrilling location for those interested in a bit of late-night thrill.
State Capitol Statue Tunnel
Moving upwards, towards the center of the state, we find the city of Montgomery, Alabama. When you wind up in front of the State Capitol Building in Montgomery, you will, unknowingly, walk above a tunnel that now houses a collection of statues.
The State Capitol Statue Tunnel can be accessed from an elevator close to the Goat Hill Museum Store and is filled with statues donated by the American Legion. These statues represent the soldiers who lost their lives in wars, from the American Revolution to the Vietnam War. The reason why they are stored underground is to protect them from vandals who were damaging the collection and disrespecting the sacrifice so many soldiers have made.
Out of the four options we highlighted for you, three are open to the large public for visitation. The fourth one is off-limits for safety reasons, as mentioned above, but knowing that your city or the city that you are visiting has such a structure built beneath them leads one’s imagination to ignite the mysteriousness of the place. Our country has many such structures that leave many people in awe, especially when you consider the fact that these tunnels are man-made. The strategy, determination, and reasoning behind these structures were incredible at the time and they are still standing today.
If you want to find out more about the mysterious tunnels in Alabama, start exploring the area where you live. You never know what you wind up discovering. If you were inspired to learn more about the city of Foley, don’t hesitate to contact the local real estate agents in Foley AL for more information. They will answer any question related to their city that you could possibly have.