WARDENCLYFFE TUNNELS INVESTIGATION
Tesla's Plant Nearing Completion
Buildings at Wardencliff to be Used in Developing His Electrical Discoveries
SINKING A VERY DEEP WELL
A Big Tower 100 Feet in Diameter and Over 200 Feet High--Power House and Dynamos
(Special to the Eagle)
Wardenclyffe, L. I., February 8--Work on the buildings at Wardenclyffe, L. I. to be used by Electrician Tesla in the development of his electrical discoveries, is progressing rapidly. The power house is completed and the foundations of the big tower have been laid.
The working room, or tower, which will be the foundation for Mr. Tesla's across-the-world flashes, will be octagonal in shape and will be 210 feet high, 100 feet In diameter at the base, narrowing down to 80 feet in diameter at the top. It will be constructed chiefly of wood, though the builders say that fifty tons of iron and steel and 50,000 bolts of various sizes are used in Its construction.
Inside the big tower a well 120 feet deep has been sunk, the well being 12 feet square, cased Its entire depth with 8 inch timbers, which will be finished off with brick and cement. A staircase, which will lead down into the well, is nearly completed.
Transversely across the bottom of the well will be a series of four tunnels, each to be 100 feet long, and a force of workmen has begun work on these subterranean passages.
The power house Is constructed of pressed brick, and is 100 feet square. In it are a boiler room, engine and dynamo room, machine shop and laboratory. The Westinghouse Company furnished the electrical equipment, boilers, engines and dynamos. Only the finishing touches are needed on the electrical equipment to make it available and Mr. Tesla promises to begin active operations very soon.
Cloudborn Electric Wavelets To Encircle the
This Is Nicola Tesla's Latest Dream, and the Long Island Hamlet of Wardenclyffe Marvels Thereat. To gather in the latent electricity in the clouds and with the globe itself as a medium of transmission to convey telegraphic messages, power for commercial purposes, or even the sound of the human voice to the utmost confines of the earth is the latest dream of Nikola Tesla.
In an article which appeared recently in The Electrical World Mr. Tesla explains the theories on which the world telegraphy system is founded and what he expects to accomplish by it. His plans involve the establishment of stations for the transmission of messages and power, "preferably near important centers of civilization." Oddly enough, what Mr. Tesla proudly designates as the first of his commercial "world telegraphy" stations has been established at Wardenclyffe, L. I., which is not in any sense an important "center of civilization," but a place described by train hands of the Long Island Railroad as a way station where "a passenger alights occasionally."
The transmitting station is an octagonal tower, pyramidal in shape, and some 180 feet in height. It consists of huge wooden stilts, heavily braced, and reinforced, and surmounted by a cupola of interlaced steel wires, bent so as to form an arc. In the cupola there is a wooden platform occupying its entire width.
Mr. Tesla began work on his transmitting station about eighteen months ago. When he first came there, and it was understood that J. Pierpont Morgan had become interested in his odd enterprise and furnished him with financial assistance, a thrill of vague expectancy ran through the little settlement, The Wardenclyffe Land Company, which owns practically all the available ground in the vicinity, gave the inventor a free grant of some 175 acres of fine land, and then settled down to wait for the day when Wardenclyffe would become the center of the universe.
Some of the farmers who come to Wardenclyffe to send their products to this city look at Mr. Tesla's tower, which is situated directly opposite the railroad station, and shake their heads sadly. They are inclined to take a skeptical view regarding the feasibility of the wireless "world telegraphy" idea, but yet Tesla's transmitting tower as it stands in lonely grandeur and boldly silhouetted against the sky on a wide clearing on the concession is a source or great satisfaction and of some mystification to them all. "It is a mighty fine tower," said one food farmer to a visitor last week. "The breeze up there is something grand of a Summer evening, and you can see the Sound and all the steamers that go by. We are tired, though, trying to figure out why he put it here instead of at Coney Island." While the tower itself is very "stagey" and picturesque, it is the wonders that are supposed to be hidden in the earth underneath it that excite the curiosity of the population in the little settlement. In the center of the wide concrete platform which serves as a base for the structure there is a wooden affair very much like the companionway on an ocean steamer. The tower and the enclosure in which it has been built are being carefully guarded these days, and no one except Mr. Tesla's own men is allowed to approach it. Only they have been allowed as much as the briefest peep down the companionway. Mr. Scherff, the private secretary of the inventor, told an inquirer that the companionway led to a small drainage passage built for the purpose of keeping the ground about the tower dry. But such of the villagers as saw the tower constructed tell a different story. They declare that it leads to a well-like excavation as deep as the tower is high with walls of masonwork and a circular stairway leading to the bottom. From there, they say, tunnels have been built in all directions, until the entire ground below the little plain on which the tower is raised has been honeycombed with subterranean passages. They tell with awe how Mr. Tesla, on his weekly visits to Wardenclyffe, spends as much time in the underground passages as he does on the tower or in the handsome laboratory and workshop erected beside it, and where the power plant for the world telegraph has been installed.
No instruments have been installed as yet in the transmitter, nor has Mr. Tesla vouchsafed any description of what they will be like. But in his article he announces that he will transmit from the tower an electric wave of a total maximum activity of ten million horse power. This, he says, will be possible with a plant of but 100 horse power, by the use of a magnifying transmitter of his own invention and certain artifices which he promises to make known in due course. What he expects to accomplish is summed up in the closing paragraph as follows:
Wardenclyffe Foreclosure Proceedings, pp.177-179
Nikola Tesla for Defendant---Direct.
A. Yes. You see the underground work is one of the most expensive parts of the tower. In this system that I have invented it is necessary for the machine to get a grip of the earth, otherwise it cannot shake the earth. It has to have a grip on the earth so that the whole of this globe can quiver, and to do that it is necessary to carry out a very expensive construction. I had in fact invented special machines. But I want to say this underground work belongs to the tower.
By Mr. Hawkins:
Q. Anything that was there, tell us about.
A. There was, as your Honor states, a big shaft about ten by twelve feet goes down about one hundred and twenty feet and this was first covered with timber and the inside with steel and in the center of this there was a winding stairs going down and in the center of the stairs there was a big shaft again through which the current was to pass, and this shaft was so figured in order to tell exactly where the nodal point is, so that I could calculate every point of distance. For instance I could calculate exactly the size of the earth or the diameter of the earth and measure it exactly within four feet with that machine.
Q. And that was a necessary appurtenance to your tower?
A. Absolutely necessary. And then the real expensive work was to connect that central part with the earth, and there I had special machines rigged up which would push the iron pipe, one length after another, and I pushed these iron pipes, I think sixteen of them, three hundred feet, and then the current through these pipes takes hold of the earth. Now that was a very expensive part of the work, but it does not show on the tower, but it belongs to the tower.
Nikola Tesla for Defendant--Direct.
By Mr. Fordham:
Q. Was the hole really one hundred and twenty feet deep. did you say?
A. Yes, you see the ground water on that place is about one hundred and twenty feet. We are above the ground water about one hundred and twenty feet. In the well we struck water at about eighty feet.
By the Referee:
Q. What you call the main water table?
A. Yes, the main well we struck at eighty feet, but there we had to go deeper.
By Mr. Hawkins:
Q. Tell the court generally, not in detail, the purpose of that tower and the equipment which you have described connected with it?
Mr. Fordham: How is that material?
The Referee: I will take it.
Mr. Fordham: We except.
A. Well, the primary purpose of the tower, your Honor, was to telephone, to send the human voice and likeness around the globe.
By the Referee:
Q. Through the instrumentality of the earth.
A. Through the instrumentality of the earth. That was my discovery that I announced in 1893,
and now all the wireless plants are doing that. There is no other system being used.
And the idea was to reproduce this apparatus and then connect it just with a central station and telephone office,
so that you may pick up your telephone and if you wanted to talk to a telephone subscriber in
Australia you would simply call up that plant and the plant would connect immediately
with that subscriber, no matter where in the world, and you could talk to
him. And I had contemplated to have press messages, stock quotations,
pictures for the press and these reproductions of signatures, checks and
everything transmitted from there throughout the world, but----
"At the base of the edifice, deep below the earth, along the descending spiral staircase, was a network of catacombs that extended out like spokes of a wheel. Sixteen of them contained iron pipes which protruded from the central shaft to a distance of three hundred feet. The expense for these "terrestrial grippers" was notable, as Tesla had to design "special machines to push the pipes, one after the other"
[Nikola Tesla On His Work With Alternating Currents . . . , Foreclosure
Proceedings] deep into the earth's interior.
"Dig for Mystery Tunnels Ends With Scientist's Secret Intact," Newsday, Feb. 13, 1979, p. 24.
"Famed inventor, Mystery Tunnels Linked," Newsday, March 10, 1979, p. 19.
Ron Short Correspondence
From: Ron Short
For a few years back, I have heard constant rumors, through friends and colleagues, that an extensive tunnel network had stretched from the beaches off of Shoreham, to Tesla's laboratory (Now Peerless Labs), and further to a building in RCA. This is interesting because I have also heard rumors that old equipment was stored down here (possibly some of Tesla's?!). These tunnels were rumored to have originated during the civil war; used to transport goods from the beach clandestinely to surrounding communities, and again in WWI to avoid any German intelligence gathering. These tunnels, which still do exist, were enormous in width and height (when they were building the Shoreham-Wading River fire house (which lies right next to the old Tesla site), a crane FELL IN the underlying tunnel. This I have seen the pictures of.
With all of this information, however, I have not been able to "dig up" any information locally, or via the internet, on these famed tunnels. The last tidbit I heard was that, in order to prevent injuries or lawsuits, the entrance at Shoreham Beach was collapsed, and they are apparently now therefore inaccessible. However, with the now overlying towns that did not exist when they were built, it is highly unlikely that that took the time to collapse the entire length of the tunnels. In fact, a friend has a neighbor whose house is relatively old, and in his basement, on opposite walls, lies a huge, red-brick arched tunnel entrance, which is now walled off by cinder blocks. He stated that his children used to go and "play" in the tunnels until they encountered a dead dog, and he walled off the entrance himself. It is also rumored that the Peerless Laboratories used these tunnels to dispose of harmful photochemicals, which now may be why the old Tesla site is one of the most prominent EPA superfund sites in the country. This is also why there has been no development on that land. The EPA deemed it safer and more cost-effective to leave the site in its present state than to clean it up. This is also why I am afraid that the sight might never be recognized as an Historical Site, if only for the reason to avoid an environmental scandal.
I have dragged on, but I have nowhere else to turn. Hopefully, you will be able to help me in my search for further information on the tunnels.
Thank you for contacting me about the mysterious "Tesla tunnels" that have worked their way into the folklore which surrounds Tesla's experimental work at Wardenclyffe. I too am intrigued by this story and would like to learn the truth behind the rumors.
Let me start out by comparing some pieces of your account with what I have heard. Regarding the firehouse incident, I was told that an underground chamber was exposed during excavation and a dead dog was found there. And it is said that some of Tesla's Colorado Springs apparatus had been put into a tunnel at the site. As for the disposal of chemicals by Peerless, it's my understanding the present concern is that chemicals may have been dumped down the 120 foot central shaft which was part of the underground portion of the wireless communications tower. (Not directly related is a report from another Shoreham native of Wardenclyffe-related artifacts residing in an old landfill now partially under a parking lot, located near and in Gill's Gully (near Gill's Rock and Shoreham Shore Club), said to have been used by the Wardenclyffe Hotel, now Briarcliff School.)
This brings me to another aspect of the story that leads to even further confusion. In trying to piece together an account of Tesla's activities at Wardenclyffe it has been said that the rumored tunnel had been build by Tesla himself, dug between the lab building and the tower foundation. While Agfa has looked for this tunnel without success, there is a written description and photographic documentation of two approximately 12" round conduits for air and electrical power lines connecting the two points. There is no doubt that Tesla did some major excavation in assembling his L. I. facility. The tower shaft alone involved the moving of some 14,400 cubic feet of earth, at least.
Your account of the tunnels dating back to the Civil-War era is new to me. Up to this point I had assumed the story was a corruption of eyewitness accounts of Tesla's 1901 activities -- the Shoreham Firehouse account not withstanding. Of particular interest to me is the walled-off tunnel entrance in your friend's basement. Do you know how old the house is, i.e., was it built circa 1860-65? Do you think he would be willing to have the cinder blocks removed to allow for exploration?
Getting back to the ongoing Peerless-Site cleanup, we have been in touch with the fellow at the N.Y.S. Dept. of Environmental Conservation's office in Stony Brook who is in charge of monitoring the cleanup. He says that Agfa is committed to the performance of any required remedial actions needed to eliminate the existing problem. I understand the public input part of the process might occur this summer. Is it possible that you might be able to participate at that time?
From: Ron Short
Hello again. First, I would like to thank you for graciously taking some time out to reply to me concerning the tunnels. I have e-mailed many others concerning this, but you were the only one who has replied as of the present. Now, for the new information.
I have been in constant contact with a couple of close friends that are as interested in the tunnels as you and I. Conveniently, one of them lives in Shoreham. He and another have recently begun investigating the exact location of these tunnels. We have recently learned that the tunnels did, in fact, extend to the beach, and existed intact until 1965, when the beach entrance was collapsed and permanently sealed. The location of this entrance, not surprisingly, was about 500 feet west of the present day Shoreham Club House. I have been unable to find, however, any records from either the town or the state regarding this event. My friend surmised the location, and is at present attempting to determine whether the tunnels are at all intact in that site. Further (which corroborates with the story you had mentioned to me about the landfill), my friend says that he thinks he may have encountered an outcropping of machinery very near the clubhouse and therefore the rumored entrance to the tunnel.
As for your question about the age of the house with the tunnel outline in the basement, it dates back at least the the first decade of the 1900's. We have also obtained an old map of Wardenclyffe approx. 1905, and the house is clearly shown on the map. The house, however, was said to be a speakeasy, which make me wonder whether the basement anomalie was a tunnel entrance, or simply a secret "hiding place" for liquor or other contraband. We are, at present, attempting to get permission from the owner to observe this entrance first-hand.
Another new tidbit is that concerning a medical complex directly across from the Tesla site. In the late 1950's and 1960's, the complex was an orphanage. There have surfaced many stories about the children going into the basement, and emerging hundreds of feet from the building actually in the Peerless site (undoubtedly another reason for the tunnels to be closed.)
Summarily, it seems that finally we are getting some concrete proof of the tunnels' existence. I have also recently spoke to an ex-employee of Grumman, and he stated that the tunnels were known about for YEARS by the employees of Grumman, and they even actually went down them in the past.
So now, the next step is to attempt to gain access. This, of course, might not be possible, but I am attempting every legal route I can think of. I don't think anyone wants a trespassing charge on their record (especially me, I am currently applying for my PhD in psychology). If proof of the existence of these tunnels can be found, I think that it would do wonders for the Wardenclyffe site and hopefully compel a further official investigation of the site.
Anyhow, if you have any more information (web sites, e-mail contacts), it would be greatly appreciated. Hopefully, the existence of these tunnels will not remain shrouded in mystery for long.
From: Gary Peterson
Here is Tesla's own description of the underground work associated with the tower from the 1923 Foreclosure Proceedings:
. . . In this system that I have invented it is necessary for the machine to get a grip of the earth, otherwise it cannot shake the earth. It has to have a grip on the earth so that the whole of this globe can quiver, and to do that it is necessary to carry out a very expensive construction. I had in fact invented special machines. But I want to say this underground work belongs to the tower.
There was . . . a big shaft about ten by twelve feet goes down about one hundred and twenty feet and this was first covered with timber and the inside with steel and in the center of this there was a winding stairs going down and in the center of the stairs there was a big shaft again through which the current was to pass, and this shaft was so figured in order to tell exactly where the nodal point is, so that I could calculate every point of distance. For instance I could calculate exactly the size of the earth or the diameter of the earth and measure it exactly within four feet with that machine.
. . . the real expensive work was to connect that central part with the earth, and there I had special machines rigged up which would push the iron pipe, one length after another, and I pushed these iron pipes, I think sixteen of them, three hundred feet, and then the current through these pipes takes hold of the earth. Now that was a very expensive part of the work, but it does not show on the tower, but it belongs to the tower. . . .
The as-built underground installation appears to have included a 120' vertical 10' x 12' shaft with an additional 300' of iron pipe pushed straight down to a depth of 420'. It's not surprising he spent so much time in this area considering the overall complexity of the job.
As for EPA info, as early as 1994 the had NYDEC listed Peerless as an "Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Site." The report gives, CLASSIFICATION CODE: 2, REGION: 1, SITE CODE: 152031 & EPA ID: NYD002044139.
From: Ron Short
Thank you again for your continued interest in the tunnels. This information is especially helpful, considering that this is the first mention I have heard from Tesla himself. I am presently still trying to figure out their exact dimensions and how far out that went, but with no liuck so far. I actually did go onto the EPA website and did find the site listed, but was unable to acquire any further info. I am continuing my research up in Buffalo, and will soon be returning to shoreham (may 16). I also thank you for putting me in touch with your associate, Jane. The info she gave was also helpful. I will keep you updated with any new info, and I hope when I return to be able to actually obtain permission into the site. I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed.
Thank you again..
From: Ron Short
Gary, concerning the company Cornell-Petsco, it is a real estate company. I researched online, but was unable to find any info. regarding the sale of the Telsa property. It is apparent, however, that AGFA is looking to sell the property, whether it be a building or as a whole.
My associate on long island that I had mentioned in prior letters has, in fact, been talking to a gentleman who was contracted to install duct work around approximately 1982. This gentleman was able to give my friend a relatively detailed map of a tunnel underground that matched the descriptions I have heard about for some time now. This tunnel led underground in a westerly fashion from the laboratory building to a single-story office building. He described the tunnels as being black in color (probably carbonized) and as seeing workstations along the sides of the tunnels with purple-color lights (probably used for photographic purposes). The tunnels were, though, constructed of stone mortared together and apparently when he drilled the anchors for the HVAC, it was quite difficult.
This is the first real concrete eyewitness map we have encountered as of yet, and will investigate this further, hopefully.