Trip Log: Trip 1

I had read about Virginia Tech’s steam tunnels online and made careful note of the grates and manholes that lead to the tunnels around campus, but tonight I finally decided to take the plunge and explore one for myself. I was joined by one of my friends from high school.

We met up at about midnight outside and headed off to the Ag Quad. The quad was completely empty, although there were some lights on in some of the buildings; we figured that it would be too dark out for anyone inside to see us. Midnight turned out to be a great time; everyone who hadn’t headed home for fall break was out partying or in their dorms.

We opened the grate and I went in first. I climbed down the ladder and took a look around; the lights were on tonight. I knew no one would be working in the tunnels this late, though, so I was not worried. My friend followed. After entering the tunnel, we turned left and traveled toward Davidson; the lights went out on the way. I brought a flashlight, of course. When we reached Davidson, we turned to the right and continued following the tunnel toward Pamplin. At Pamplin, the tunnel turned to the left again and headed toward Cowgill. The tunnel got very hot here and we decided to end our journey when we heard some strange noises coming from the tunnel ahead. It sounded like steam was leaking; I wasn’t about to let us get burned by steam, so we decided to turn around.

We followed the tunnel back to the Ag Quad and exited from the Saunders grate; we hadn’t really planned ahead for what we would do if we happened to pop out of the grate in front of someone. My friend opened the grate first and I quickly followed. We left the Ag Quad just as someone was coming up the path next to Price Hall that leads across the lower Drillfield.

Although our journey only lasted about a half hour, it was very rewarding. I’m so glad that I decided to finally explore the tunnels and my friend shares my sentiments. We’re definitely going back.

-Fuse