Tunnels’ secrets include military uses, underground networks — Part 1


Networks of secret tunnels stretch from Nevada to New Mexico and beyond, used for purposes hidden from the public. Investigative journalist George Knapp takes a look at the myriad tunnels and how they are being used. Aired on Nov. 4, 1998, on KLAS TV in Las Vegas. First of 3 Parts.

MYSTERY WIRE — In Nevada folklore, the granddaddy of all underground secrets is Area 51, where a vast subterranean complex supposedly plunges deep into the Earth’s crust, hiding flying saucers and all manner of deadly technology. Tales of underground terror are as old as trolls, or goblins, or Satan himself.

The new repository for folk tales, the Internet, has entire websites devoted to underground secrets.

Supposed government maps detail a network of secret tunnels that stretch from Nevada to New Mexico and beyond. That’s some tunnel.

While it’s easy to dismiss some of these ramblings, other stories aren’t so quickly explained. In New Mexico, thousands of residents heard for years underground noises that came to be known as the Taos Humm, an electronic signal whose source was never uncovered. In Nye County residents say they’ve heard noises like an underground railroad.

One man described it as “the vibration, a roaring vibration.”

“I don’t know where it’s coming from, but it sounds really weird,” said a girl who lives there.

The proximity of Nye County to some well-known facilities points of finger of suspicion at the government and with some justification. The government has been studying underground technologies for decades. Reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that as far back as the ‘50s, the government planned to build large secret underground facilities for use by the military. Media reports show the Reagan administration spent up to $8 billion on such facilities. Diagrams from these documents also note Nevada was considered a primary location for underground activities.

Toby Wightman. (KLAS-TV)

“I know some of the things that are out there. I’m certainly aware of a lot of the dozens probably hundreds of miles of tunnels and shafts,” said Toby Wightman, President of the American Underground Association.

Wightman also works as an engineer on the miles of tunnels being dug into Yucca Mountain by one of the world’s largest tunneling rigs.

But how many secrets are kept in underground Nevada?

“I couldn’t guess what else might be out there,” Wightman said. “Certainly Defense. The Department of Defense over the years has built a lot of underground facilities,” he said.

Larry Ashbaugh. (KLAS-TV)

The Departments of Defense and Energy don’t mind talking about some of these facilities. They even took us on a tour of a few tunnels that seemingly stretch on forever with their own railroads passing by busy labs and ominous signs.

“Oh, I think this tunnel’s probably five miles of tunneling underground here,” said Larry Ashbaugh of the Department of Defense. 

Of course, most of the underground tunnels at the Test Site were dug for nuclear testing. Such testing ended years ago.

NEXT STORY: Tunnels show potential for safe, secret operations in Nevada — Part 2

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