Endangered Earth
Tunnels Under Las Vegas - The Mole People

This page started out as a search for secret tunnels under Las Vegas and lead into the "Mole people", the homeless that have taken shelter in the tunnels beneath Las Vegas (and other cities). There are several tunnel systems under Las Vegas, some easily found, others hidden in myths and secrecy. Since Las Vegas is the Alien Capital what with Area 51 and Janet Airways right in the open at McCarren Airport. So this section about the tunnels will cover the homeless chapter, those living in the flood control tunnels, of which, according to the Clark County Regional Flood Control District the valley has about 450 miles (720 km) of flood control channels and tunnels, and about 300 miles (480 km) of those are underground. The other tunnel systems we will cover in another section.

View of the Janet terminal at McCarren Airport  with the Luxor Pyramid and the mountains in the background
The Tunnel People of Las Vegas:
How 1,000 live in flooded labyrinth under Sin City's shimmering strip

By Daily Mail Reporter
, 3 November 2010

Deep beneath Vegas’s glittering lights lies a sinister labyrinth inhabited by poisonous spiders and a man nicknamed The Troll who wields an iron bar. But astonishingly, the 200 miles of flood tunnels are also home to 1,000 people who eke out a living in the strip’s dark underbelly. Some, like Steven and his girlfriend Kathryn, have furnished their home with considerable care - their 400sq ft 'bungalow' boasts a double bed, a wardrobe and even a bookshelf.

Deeper underground: Steven and Kathryn live in a 400sq ft 'bungalow'
under Las Vegas which they have lovingly furnished with other people's castoffs

One man's junk... Tunnel residents have created wardrobes for their clothes and salvaged furniture to
make the subterranean world more homely. However, there is little they can do about the water on the floor

House proud: Steven and Kathryn have also compiled their own library -
and constructed shelves to house it

They have been there for five years, fashioning a shower out of a water cooler, hanging paintings on the walls and collating a library from abandoned books. Their possessions, however, are carefully placed in plastic crates to stop them getting soaked by the noxious water pooling on the floor.

'Our bed came from a skip outside an apartment complex,' Steven explains. 'It's mainly stuff people dump that we pick up. One man's junk is another man's gold. ‘We get the stuff late at night so people don't see us because it's kind of embarrassing.’

Flood tunnels: Amy lives in the labyrinth with her husband Junior.
The couple lost their home after the death of their baby son

Steven was forced into the tunnels three years ago after his heroin addiction led to him losing his job. He says he is now clean and the pair survive by ‘credit hustling’ in the casinos, donning second-hand clothes to check the slot machines for chips accidentally left behind. Astonishingly, Steven claims he once found $997 (£609) on one machine.

Further into the maze are Amy and Junior who married in the Shalimar Chapel – one of Vegas’s most popular venues - before returning to the tunnels for their honeymoon. They lost their home when they became addicted to drugs after the death of their son Brady at four months old. ‘I heard Las Vegas was a good place for jobs,’ Amy said. ‘But it was tough and we started living under the staircase outside the MGM casino. ‘Then we met a guy who lived in the tunnels. We’ve been down here ever since.’

Matthew O’Brien, a reporter who stumbled across the tunnel people when he was researching a murder case, has set up The Shine A Light foundation to help.

Home comforts: The tunnel people decorate the homes and even lay scraps of carpet
on the concrete floor to make it more comfortable

‘These are normal people of all ages who’ve lost their way, generally after a traumatic event,’ he said. ‘Many are war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress. ‘It’s not known how many children are living there, as they’re kept out of sight, but I’ve seen evidence of them – toys and teddy bears.’

O’Brien has published a book on the tunnel people called Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas. These evocative images which show the community's astonishing way of life were taken by Austin Hargrave, a British photographer now based in the U.S. They show how the destitute and hopeless have constructed a community beneath the city and have even dedicated one section of tunnels to an art gallery filled with intricate graffiti.

Graffiti artists have turned this area of the tunnel network into a gallery:
The channels stretch for more than 200 miles under the ground

Back above ground: The blazing lights of the strip give no indication of the city's dark underbelly

Entrance: The towers and fantastical buildings of Vegas can be seen in the background

Chink of light: Most of the people who live underground have fallen into destitution after struggling
with drink, drugs or mental health problems

Mole people

This article is about the real-life phenomenon and urban legend. Mole people is a term used to refer to homeless people living under large cities in abandoned subway, railroad, flood, and sewage tunnels and heating shafts. These people are also sometimes referred to as "tunnel people" or "tunnel dwellers".

While it is generally accepted that some homeless people in large cities make use of abandoned underground structures for shelter, urban legends persist that make stronger assertions. These include claims that "mole people" have formed small, ordered societies similar to tribes, numbering up to hundreds, living underground year-round. It has also been suggested that they have developed their own cultural traits and even have electricity by illegal hook-up. The subject has attracted some attention from sociologists but is highly controversial due to a lack of evidence.

Jennifer Toth's 1993 book The Mole People: Life In The Tunnels Beneath New York City, written while she was an intern at the Los Angeles Times, was promoted as a true account of travels in the tunnels and interviews with tunnel dwellers. The book helped canonize the image of the mole people as an ordered society living literally under people's feet. However, few claims in her book have been verified, and it includes inaccurate geographical information, numerous factual errors, and an apparent reliance on largely unprovable statements. The strongest criticism came from New York City Subway historian Joseph Brennan, who declared, "Every fact in this book that I can verify independently is wrong." Cecil Adams's The Straight Dope contacted Toth in 2004, and noted the large amount of unverifiability in her stories, while declaring that the book's accounts seemed to be truthful. A later article, after contact with Brennan, was more skeptical of Toth's truthfulness.


Entry into the Las Vegas flood control tunnels

Other journalists have focused on the underground homeless in New York City as well. Photographer Margaret Morton made the photo book The Tunnel: The Underground Homeless of New York City (Architecture of Despair), film maker Marc Singer made the documentary Dark Days, and anthropologist Teun Voeten wrote Tunnel People.

Media accounts have reported "mole people" living underneath other cities as well. In the Las Vegas Valley, it is estimated about 1,000 homeless people find shelter in the storm drains underneath the city for protection from extreme temperatures that exceed 115 °F (46 °C) while dropping below 30 °F (−1 °C) in winter. Most of the inhabitants are turned away from the limited charities in Las Vegas and find shelter in the industrial infrastructure of the Las Vegas Strip, similar to most cities. The Las Vegas Channel 8 News sent their Eyewitness News I-Team with Matt O'Brien, the local author who spent nearly five years exploring beneath the city to write the book Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas. Las Vegas is in Clark County: according to the Clark County Regional Flood Control District the valley has about 450 miles (720 km) of flood control channels and tunnels, and about 300 miles (480 km) of those are underground. A September 24, 2009, article in the British paper The Sun interviewed some of the inhabitants of the Las Vegas Valley mole people, and included photographs.

SOURCE: Wikipedia Mole People

The Tunnel: The Underground Homeless of New York City (Architecture of Despair)
Photographer Margaret Morton ~ Amazon books

Tunnel People
by Teun Voeten ~ Amazon books

Dark Days
By Marc Singer ~ Amazon Video

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