The Basement Maze of Leavenworth, Kansas

[Image: The “underground town” beneath Leavenworth, Kansas, courtesy of KCTV].

It was reported last week that an “underground city” had been discovered beneath the streets of Leavenworth, Kansas. “Some Leavenworth residents have been unknowingly walking around above an underground city,” we read, “and no one seems to know who created it or why.”

Windows, doors and narrow paths beneath a title company at South Fourth and Delaware streets lead to storefronts stretching several city blocks and perhaps beyond.
There are also several vaults around town. Some of have them been used for breweries… Some speculate the underground town was created in the 1800s and could have been used during slavery or for fugitives.

I have to admit, though, especially after looking at the slideshow, that referring to this alternately as an “underground town” and an “underground city” seems like quite an overstatement of the case; it looks more like a few connected basements at most.
But how are you going to get people’s attention if all you’ve discovered is a few empty rooms beneath Main Street…?

(Thanks, Ian!)

5 thoughts on “The Basement Maze of Leavenworth, Kansas”

  1. Basements can be some of the most interesting parts of a building.

    In our town, Madison, Indiana, the theatre has a catacomb-like basement that was created as part of an ancient (1930s) air conditioning system. Another building has a whole series of sub-basements because it used to be a brewery.

    It goes on from there. It’s all fun stuff in my mind and rediscovering something like this would be a blast.

    Then again, maybe I’m just a geek.

  2. You should check out Stephen Milhauser’s short story ‘The Next Thing’ from Harper’s a few months back. A creepy Borgesian tale of a town being built underground to be ‘better’ than the town above.

  3. A few connected basement at most? Clearly, we’ve discovered redneck atlantis. What does channel 5 (or any news source) have to gain by hyperbole?

    I picked up “Night Vision” on your recommendation by association, and am thoroughly pleased. Haven’t been that thrilled by a collection since I bought “The New West.”

    To you and Mr. Paiva, top shelf work. Carry on.

  4. Some savvy businesspeople in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan have cashed in BIG TIME on similar interconnected downtown basements with the creation of themed tours there. Google “Tunnels of Moose Jaw.”

  5. The Underground railroad in Kansan history involves networks of underground sanctuaries for escaped people’s of enslavement to hide and wait before moving on to the next hub in the network. Lawrence, Kansas has many homes with 3rd basements, sealed now mostly, for that very reason. Its a shame the history hasn’t been spread on and the true meaning learned.

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