Cobble Hill Tunnel - Dormant Decades

Dormant Decades

Walt Whitman wrote of the tunnel:

The old tunnel, that used to lie there under ground, a passage of Acheron-like solemnity and darkness, now all closed and filled up, and soon to be utterly forgotten, with all its reminiscences; however, there will, for a few years yet be many dear ones, to not a few Brooklynites, New Yorkers, and promiscuous crowds besides. For it was here you started to go down the island, in summer. For years, it was confidently counted on that this spot, and the railroad of which it was the terminus, were going to prove the permanent seat of business and wealth that belong to such enterprises. But its glory, after enduring in great splendor for a season, has now vanished—at least its Long Island Railroad glory has. The tunnel: dark as the grave, cold, damp, and silent. How beautiful look earth and heaven again, as we emerge from the gloom! It might not be unprofitable, now and then, to send us mortals—the dissatisfied ones, at least, and that's a large proportion—into some tunnel of several days' journey. We'd perhaps grumble less, afterward, at God's handiwork.

In March 1916, the Bureau of Investigation suspected German terrorists were making bombs in the tunnel, and broke through the roof of the tunnel with jackhammers. They found nothing, installed an electric light, and resealed it. In the 1920s it was rumored used for both mushroom growing and bootleg whiskey stills even though there was no access into the main portion of the tunnel. It became an object of local folklore and legend. In 1936, the New York City Police Department unsuccessfully attempted to enter the tunnel, in order to look for the body of a hoodlum supposedly buried there. In 1941 it was rumored to have been inspected by the federal Works Progress Administration to determine its structural strength, but there is no evidence of this. A few years later, it was once again rumored to have been opened, this time by the FBI, in an unsuccessful search for spies; however, there is no evidence of this. During the late 1950s it was sought by two rail historians, George Horn and Martin Schachne, but they did not gain access to the tunnel itself.

Read more about this topic:  Cobble Hill Tunnel

Famous quotes containing the words dormant and/or decades:

    It’s extraordinary how we go through life with eyes half shut, with dull ears, with dormant thoughts. Perhaps it’s just as well; and it may be that it is this very dullness that makes life to the incalculable majority so supportable and so welcome.
    Joseph Conrad (1857–1924)

    For decades to come the spy world will continue to be the collective couch where the subconscious of each nation is confessed.
    John le Carré (b. 1931)