Nassau and Suffolk are not the only parts of Long Island, and certainly not the only Long Island haunted hotspots. It is our pleasure to bring you the oldest subway tunnel in the world. On the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Court Street is an unassuming manhole much like any other. As people pass overhead, who would know that a large piece of history lies beneath, complete with its own ghostly legends?
If you happened to go there on certain Sundays, you might just see people filing down into the manhole and perhaps you could catch a tour of the Atlantic Avenue tunnel. The underground railway tunnel was built in 1844 by the Long Island Railroad to relieve congestion in downtown Brooklyn. The overall plan was to connect Brooklyn with Boston via the Greenport Ferry.
The train used to run on Atlantic Avenue but since trains take time to come to a full stop, it was not compatible with the bustle of foot and wagon traffic moving along Atlantic Avenue. There was only one solution. The trains had to go underground. The tunnel was built in the “cut and cover” method, which meant ripping up Atlantic Avenue to dig the tunnel, then installing the lining and brick ceiling before covering it up again. It was during this point that we have our first death in the tunnel. On August 17th 1844 a Mr. John Denman, a local carpenter, fell off of one of the bridges spanning the road to cross the digging sites. It is said to have been due to negligence in securing the bridges and also due to heavy rains rendering the ground slick and moist. He fell to his death inside the freshly dug Atlantic Avenue tunnel.
Our second death was also during the construction. In an effort to speed up construction, a British overseer was brought in to supervise the mostly Irish workforce. Despite any political differences, the overseer also demanded they work Saturdays and Sundays for the same pay. It is said that one of the workers pulled a derringer from his boot, shot the man, and that the tunnel workers buried him beneath the tunnel.
The tunnel was supposed to be demolished in 1861 but due to a lucky bit of political corruption, only the entrances were sealed up and parts of the tunnel were mostly untouched. Bob Diamond, the man who re-discovered the lost tunnel in 1980 has his own share of odd experiences with the tunnel. He has seen blue orbs, balls of light, or streaks moving through the tunnel. Most recently he has reported the sighting of a shadow figure meandering around by the lights only to vanish through the tunnel wall.
While helping to run additional electric wiring to illuminate the tunnel, I myself saw a blue flash. People often report blue orbs and streaks in their photographs. Normally orbs should be mostly discounted and attributed to dust or moisture reflecting off of the flash, however when these things are reportedly seen with the naked eye, it is certainly worth a second look.
This photo was submitted by one of the tour goers. Although this orb is very possibly just dust, taking into consideration the legend of the tunnel, you never know.
These images were taken by members of our very own paranormal group. These among others show strange blue lights. Lens flare? Real paranormal phenomenon?
Could this be a visit by a tunnel swelling spirit, or just an odd effect of light?
Perhaps the tunnel was never totally abandoned after all? So far whatever may still reside beneath the street, it doesn’t seem to be threatening. Keep an eye out on the next tour. You may just catch a glint of blue.