** An Entire Civilization Was Found in the Tunnel System Beneath Las Vegas

 

When we hear the name Las Vegas, we think about a world where the wealthy and powerful hit the strip at night to try their luck at the casinos and dance until the break of dawn at the most sizzling night clubs. It's a city full of wealth, opulence and glamour, but that's not all...

There is another world far below the city streets and in this secret place lurks something most people dismiss as an urban legend. It's something that people might not want to encounter when they visit the city, even though it's as real as the casinos and theaters above it...

There’s a Secret Under the Las Vegas Skyline

Unsplash

Every year, thousands of people head to the Las Vegas Strip to gamble, drink, and have fun. But underneath this glittering world full of lights and attractions like the Grand Canals at the Venetian Las Vegas or the Las Vegas High Roller, is a secret city.

The Flood Tunnels that Became Homes

@Left_Eye_Images

In 1990, the city of Las Vegas built a network of flood tunnels beneath the streets, much like the subway tunnels underneath New York City. But somewhere along the way, people started making their way into these tunnels. But how did they get in?

Tunnel Entrances Are in Plain Sight

Jacob Kepler/Bild am Sonntag

To most people, the tunnel entrances appear to be nothing more than an overpass. But a couple of meters in is a network of flood tunnels that extend 300 miles underneath the city. And something about these tunnels has lured people in and there’s a reason for this.

The Tunnels Are Home to a Certain Class

Jacob Kepler/Bild am Sonntag

While most people would balk at the thought of living in a tunnel network, for some, it’s a saving grace. This is particularly true for people who suffer from mental issues, addiction, and poverty. Sadly, the world above can’t accommodate their needs, but these tunnels can at least offer some shelter.

Some Folks Actually Choose This Life

Vice / Harmon Leon

The network of tunnels provides shelter to many people, but some folks actually choose to live here for reasons other than necessity, such as nomadic travelers who find it cheaper to stay here than in a hotel in the Las Vegas Strip. But things down here don’t work the way they do up there.

It’s Impossible to Tell Whether It’s Night or Day

The Travel

Most residents lose track of time here and find it difficult to tell whether it’s nighttime or daytime. "Sometimes, when our clock says six o'clock, you don't know whether it's...morning or in the evening," explained Shay, a 53-year-old woman who lives in these tunnels. She added, "If some light comes in at the end of the tunnel, we know: It's daytime." But for some, this existence isn’t exactly a paradise.

Some Consider These Tunnels Exile

Vice / Harmon Leon

A tunnel dweller named Anthony moved down here after serving some time in prison. And Business Insider quoted him saying: This is how society treats us: They want us to be invisible — but we are here, we want to be seen. Our story must be heard." But what do these tunnel networks look like?

Some Areas Are Actually Comfortable

The Sun

Some folks have been able to fully-furnish the interior of their tunnel space. In fact, this is often an indication that the person has been living here for a long time and has no plans of moving out.

They Couldn’t Move If They Wanted To

Casino.org

Items like tables, mattresses and other furniture were not easy to bring down into the tunnels and it would cost way too much money to remove them, hence why the dwellers would rather stay put. But this can pose a problem if Mother Nature were to strike.

Flooding Could Be a Major Problem

Las Vegas Review Journal / Clark County

In 1975, a massive flood left Las Vegas in a state of disarray. This ultimately led to the construction of the flood tunnels. So obviously, the folks living down here know they’re sitting on a time bomb as a severe rainstorm could force them out without any warning.

Flood Tunnel Related Deaths Have Occurred

Business Insider

Fear of floods isn’t the result of paranoid delusion. In 2017, a lot of people drowned to death in these tunnels after water flooded through the network and dragged them to their untimely demise. But flooding isn’t the only threat these tunnel dwellers face.

Overdoses Are a Common Issue

@Left_Eye_Images

Some tunnel dwellers suffer from controlled substance issues, which often leads to overdoses. Unfortunately, it takes time for emergency responders to search for a patient who has OD’d within the tunnel network. And in some cases, dwellers will hesitate calling authorities right away because they’re afraid of legal repercussions.

Illegal Activity is Common Here

Business Insider / Jacob Kepler / Bild am Sonntag

It’s not uncommon for people to perform all kinds of illegal activities down here, including the ultimate crime. “There are no cameras here and I've even heard of murders,” Angell, a resident who calls these tunnels home, told Business Insider. These shady activities have ultimately caught unwanted attention from authorities.

Cops Are on High Alert

Las Vegas Review Journal / Jason Bean

The increase in criminal activities have led to police monitoring the tunnel entrances more frequently, which has forced many of the dwellers to leave the tunnels and their belongings to avoid being captured by police. But that’s not the only issue these people face.

They Lack the Basics

Unsplash

When Angell was asked what she missed the most about living in a regular home in the world above, she laughed and explained: "A toilet...and a shower. The last time I took a shower, I cried." And others can sympathize with her plight.

There’s No Plumbing

ABC News

Living in the tunnels isn’t easy by any means, especially since a lot of the luxuries we take for granted aren’t available, such as plumbing. But some residents have found a way around this by using a whirlpool as a makeshift bath. But plumbing isn’t the only thing these people lack.

Lighting is Pretty Scarce

Las Vegas Review-Journal

The network of tunnels is virtually dark and the only light source around here comes from the grating that was designed to let the water in during a rainstorm. So, at night, it’s all pitch black down here. But despite this inconvenience, some folks have chosen to live here out of necessity.

One Dweller Moved Here for Love

Unsplash

According to Business Insider, 54-year-old Rusty had no other choice but to come down here because of her husband’s past. "I used to have an apartment, and cats and dogs. I lived on welfare — but my husband couldn't live with me anymore because of his past. No landlord accepted him anymore. We have been married for 12 years. I wanted to be with him — so I went into the tunnels with him," she shared. But she almost lost her life.

The Heat is Unbearable

Unsplash

It’s important to remember that Las Vegas is in the middle of the desert and deserts get very hot in the summer. Now most people stand in front of a fan or look for an air-conditioned place to stay and perhaps cool off with a refreshing glass of water. But most dwellers don’t have that. Neither did Rusty, and she suffered a heat stroke, which could have been fatal at her age. And yet, she stays here like many of her fellow dwellers.

Some People Will Never Leave Here

YouTube / Wade Patterson

There are approximately 2,000 people living in the network of flood tunnels and many of them have no intention of leaving. In fact, a man named Craig explained to The Sun why that is: “I wouldn’t want to be homeless anywhere else. We’re out of sight out of mind here in Vegas.” And yet, the tunnels have gotten lots of attention.

The Tunnel Has Attracted Many

Place Hacking Blog

The network of tunnels has brought in news crews, television shows, and a ton of graffiti artists. But that doesn’t mean that this spot should be on anyone’s travel itinerary because it is still deemed quite a dangerous place. And yet, it’s so close to the casinos that dwellers have made out like bandits.

Dwellers Cruise the Strip for Cash

YouTube / Invisible People

Many of the tunnel entrances are within range of the casinos in the Las Vegas Strip, which is great for dwellers like Stephen. He and others like him walk into the casinos looking for chips that gamblers might have dropped in order to cash in. But the dwellers also get help from a kind-hearted foundation.

There’s a Light at the End of the Tunnel

Las Vegas Review Journal / @Left_Eye_Images

Journalist Matthew O’Brien has been researching and interviewing the tunnel dwellers for several years. He even wrote a book called “Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas.” He’s also the founder of the Shine a Light Foundation that provides the dwellers with different services. But is there a more permanent solution for these people?

The Tunnels Will Remain a Shelter

Las Vegas Journal Review

Although the tunnels were never meant to be a homeless shelter, there’s enough space here to accommodate everyone and then some. So, for the time being, the tunnels will continue to serve their unofficial purpose until the city of Las Vegas finds a more permanent housing solution for the tunnel dwellers. Meanwhile, the tunnel network continues to grow.

The Tunnel Network is Expanding

Heavy Equipment Rentals

The Las Vegas Flood Control District continues its work to expand the tunnel network so that in the event of a powerful rainstorm, the conduits can direct over a million gallons of rainwater to Lake Mead. But the homeless will undoubtedly continue to move in deeper into these new tunnels as they become available.

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