The Truth Beneath Sahuaro

Sierra Blaser, Editor

Beneath the gum-filled concrete of Sahuaro lurks shadowy tunnels that hold our AC pipes, electrical equipment, and a history of fun rumors. Many students walk the school grounds without a second thought towards the complex piping system that runs underneath. The person in charge of it all? Brian Gammon, Sahuaro’s engineer of four years. I was lucky enough to be a part of a tunnel tour given by Brian to discover the truth of what lies beneath the Sahuaro campus (kidding, it’s not that dramatic).

“The school was built in 1968,” said Brian. “They were probably the first things built, the basements and tunnels. The tunnels are designed to basically run all the utilities through to each building so you can have access to the air handlers and all.” Sahuaro, Sabino, and Santa Rita all have the same underground systems.  All three schools are designed the same, with a few exceptions of buildings turned a different way. They’re sister schools, so it makes sense. Each tunnel, however, is the same.” The system run from the main office to the edge of 400, and the gym to the library. Bryan usually goes through them 2-3 times a week to check the air handlers and search for any leaks. While he hasn’t experienced any strange happenings in his time here, he has heard stories of ghosts roaming underneath the school. “Personally, I’ve never run into them,” he said. When asked about the rumor of an old student living underneath, Bryan responded, “I haven’t heard that personally, but anything’s possible. I have heard that a past employee stayed in the buildings for about a week or so before he got caught. Actually, he got caught in the morning when I came in.” Let’s just say that employee is no longer here.

While he’s yet to experience Sahuaro ghosts, Brian did share a story about a certain ring-tailed cat that used to live in the tunnels. “It roamed the tunnels, and you can still see the footprints on some of the piping. They caught him eventually and released him into the wilderness. We have had them before, actually, I caught one in the 400 building in the ceiling.” Brian was absolutely right about the animal prints left behind; they ran all along a pipe underneath the 100 building.

One of the final rumors discussed was about the possibility of the tunnels being used as a fallout shelter. “Would it be the ideal place? No, but it would work.” During the tour, Brian continued, “We could probably fit the entire student body down here if we ever needed to. They’d just have to be spread through all of them.” While I hope it never comes to that, it is a bit of a comforting thought.

While the tunnels seem exciting to a majority of students, myself included, some faculty members don’t find as much interest in them. “It’s just a basement with some walkways,” said head custodian, Charlie O’Malley. “If you really want an interesting story, you should write about the ghost in the upper 100. That break room is haunted. One Saturday I was up there during ACT testing and at about 11:30 in the morning, I was in there laying on the couch, lights out, right? Someone ripped the door open and yelled at me, and it woke me up.” Not fully sure if that was a ghost, but que será, será.

Overall, a walk through the tunnels is a truly amazing thing to experience. I was able to gain a better understanding in how Sahuaro’s buildings function and listen to a plethora of fun stories experienced by faculty throughout the years.