Navigating North Main

In Winter of 2007, Eureka's Team Underground shared their experience of storming the Eureka Springs storm drains with us. Nearly a year later (November 2008), they returned to the nether-regions of North Main Street to search for new tunnels and to proceed where they had left off the year before. Their new experience is detailed below...

"During this trip into the underground, we were determined to explore some new areas that we hadn't seen before. We decided to try and enter the underground farther North and ended up slipping into a creek tunnel entrance near Sonny's Pizza place. This section of tunnel was very easy to navigate, and appears to be in better shape thanks to more recent concrete blocks that were stacked in the top two courses. Other than some strange animal feces (see photo), there wasn't much to report. The tunnel takes you beneath several parking lots and under the Main Stage building. It then opens up and you find yourself in the backyard behind Jim Fain's Herbacy and the guitar shop.

We continued (quietly ran) through the yard and re-entered the creek tunnel where it flows under Flint Street. This is the same area that we explored last year. The water was much deeper than it had been the year before, rising over our knees in certain areas. We eventually got to the "bulge" in the ceiling that we had reported last year, where the concrete makes a convex bowl over your head. As scary as this section is to crawl under (and we couldn't tell if it was any worse than last time), the wooden support braces just beyond it are even worse. The right side brace is starting to kick in, making it a very tight squeeze. If it continues to move at this rate, it will probably be un-passable by next winter. You can compare the attached photo with the one I sent you last time.

Click to enlarge:

Tunnel Collapse Comparison Photo

Once through the wooden supports, our experience was pretty similar to what I described last time, although the water was deeper. However, when we came to the section where the ceiling was caving in, we forged ahead this time, crawling on hands and knees through several inches of water. We were already soaked from the knee-deep areas, so why not! We made sure not to exert any pressure on the rock walls or ceiling, as they looked unstable. At one point we looked up and saw an open grate in a parking lot, probably the lot to the North of the courthouse. Once past this section, I believe that we were underneath the Eureka Springs courthouse. We could stand upright and there were large wooden floor joists overhead.

The foundation of the courthouse consists of some very large stone arches, and there was a section where someone had actually installed two bare light fixtures overhead. This was very recent work. One was even equipped with one of those energy-saving CFL lightbulbs. Some of the floor joists overhead also appeared to be new and there was fresh tar and vapor barrier in certain places. A small plastic trashcan was sitting on the ground. I'm not sure what the lights were installed for, but we're thinking that there may be a trapdoor in the floor above that allows maintenance people to get into this area (to change the lightbulbs?).

Just past this area, the tunnel gets pretty small - maybe two and a half feet high and wide, but with about a foot of water flowing through it. We were running out of time, so we decided to turn back and escape through the same culvert that we used last time. Maybe one day we'll head back and continue where we left off, when we feel like some urban underground snorkeling."

~ Courtesy of Team Underground
Eureka Springs Courthouse Foundation
Photos copyright © UndergroundEureka.com

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