We took a new approach to the same entrance this time, and again successfully evaded the legendary Ford security forces. We took the same path inward. This night, the water pipe was silent. We headed toward the "titanic tunnel" area first. With better lighting, it seemed more likely to be a small underwater service area than an entry to an entire underwater tunnel system. Damn.
We next headed to the tunnel with the canvas doorway; it wound around for quite awhile before ending in an apparent cave-in. So, it was back to the main tunnel (with the water pipe in it). We moved in deeper, and soon found ourselves in a labyrinth of huge tunnels carved out of the naked sandstone. Some had ceilings at least 40 feet high, and none was smaller than 15 feet.
We found ourselves categorizing the tunnels into three classes: wet tunnels, dry tunnels, and ledge tunnels. Wets had shallow standing water and, oftentimes, almost completely rotten wooden crossties from rails. The dry tunnels tended to be plain sandstone with little to distinguish them from each other. Ledge tunnels were the dead ends: the workers who made the system left these double countertop-type deals in the sandstone about chest-high. Maybe they were for equipment storage?
The tunnels branched and intersected endlessly, and my pathetic attempt at a map was quickly jettisoned as utterly futile. We used the water pipe tunnel as a baseline and went on trips into the tunnels that joined it. We found an old tobacco tin, bizarre forms of fungus, and rotten tools like shovels that fell apart when you tried to pick them up.
A room with a metal door led to what had once been perhaps been an equipment room. In one back tunnel, we found a sandstone etching dated 1932. The air quality was pretty poor ; the vapor from your breath hung in front of you and did not even move. After a couple of hours, we grew very tired: the loose sandstone floor of the tunnels was like a Florida beach, and it took a lot of extra energy to walk through it.
Skully, who never liked tunnels much anyway, was antsy to bail out, and she was our ride. We decided to head home, and planned a return trip with graph paper and maybe a compass to make a map that actually made sense.