Something wicked in the tunnel - Halloween ghost stories and the ‘lost’ railroad

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The season of the witch has gotten to urban explorer Bob Diamond.

The ghosts haunting the Atlantic Avenue tunnel’s past—and perhaps even its future—will be the focus of Diamond’s upcoming tour.

And spirits and specters may be just the beginning.

There might be treasure—and a dead body to boot—buried somewhere beneath the old Long Island Railroad tunnel between Hicks and Court streets, Diamond claims.

“While the tunnel was being constructed in 1844, the foreman was assassinated by angry laborers who didn’t want to work on Sunday,” Diamond said, citing newspaper accounts at the time.

“He is buried behind one of the six-foot stone walls,” he continued.

Then there is the legend of the river pirates, who would raid nearby ships, kill the crew and store their booty in the tunnel.

“They reportedly used the tunnel as the Aladdin’s cave,” Diamond said.

On a less supernatural note, the remnants of an old bootlegging operation have been found inside the once-forgotten tunnel.

“We’ve found a crushed five-gallon whiskey jug and a piece of stone pottery,” he noted.

In 1980, Diamond, the founder and president of the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association (BHRA) and an engineer by training, rediscovered the tunnel, which was sealed in 1861. After a five-year hiatus, he resumed leading tours of the half-mile tunnel two summers ago.

The tunnel—and Diamond—have been featured on the History Channel show “Cities of the Underworld,” in an episode entitled “New York: Secret Societies.” He is also the subject behind a feature-length documentary.

Trey Nelson, the Brooklyn-based filmmaker behind the film, said he is in the process of finding a contractor who will dig out the back end of the tunnel, potentially unearthing an old steam locomotive Diamond believes is entombed there.

To do so, the city’s Department of Transportation must consent.

“Our concern is not whether there is something back there,” Nelson said. “For me as a filmmaker, this is about Bob and the pursuit of Bob’s dream.”

A trailer for the documentary may be found here:

The next tunnel tour is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 19. Call 718-941-3160 for reservations. For more information, visit

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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