Demo Crew Stumbles Upon Hidden Tunnel, Possibly Part of Underground Railroad (Video)

| by Allison Geller

A demolition crew in Middleton, Pennsylvania unearthed a surprising discovery when knocking down an old home.

The story is good enough for Indiana Jones. ABC27 reports that James Thornton and his demo crew flattened one of the house’s walls— only to find a hidden room behind it.

Recovering from their shock, the crew went forth and investigated, discovering old artifacts and a tunnel.

The Historical Society was promptly called to the site. Upon preliminary investigations, experts from the Society believe that it may have been part of the underground railroad, the route that shuttled fleeing slaves from the South to the free North. Later on in the 20s and 30s, it may have been used as a speakeasy.

"It is an amazing feeling to know that slaves made their way through Middletown," said Thornton, "I knew Middletown was the oldest community in the county, but I never imagined it had this kind of history."

The Middletown township was first settled by Native Americans in 1500 before English colonists made their homes there in 1690. It was officially founded in 1755.

So far the theories about the passage are largely speculative, as the lack of documentation makes it hard to tell exactly what the big empty space was used for.

"Underground railroad activity wasn't documented," Howard Pollman, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, told Penn Live. "So there is really no way of really saying, 'this is in fact with all certainty an underground railroad stop.' It's just very difficult because these were things that were supposed to be hidden."

Bottles found in the detritus led to the Prohibition speakeasy theory.

But whatever the tunnel was precisely used for in what era, local historians are sure they have stumbled upon something big.

“To be able to see this is just tremendous,” Robin Pelligrini, a Historical Society Trustee, told the paper.       

The demolition has been temporarily suspended as plans for further excavation are made. The property owner may seal up the hole temporarily, as it presents a safety hazard for local teenagers and other curious locals trying to sneak a peek at the mysterious chamber.

Sources: ABC27, Penn Live (2)