From the Editor’s Notebook
I love mysterious things.
Secret passages are one of those things. I always wanted to have a house with a hidden passageway to a secret room.
You know, in the movies it is activated by pulling down on a certain book in the library and a secret door swings open.
Key the spooky music.
So when Blue Earth’s Public Works supervisor Jamie Holland called me last week and said there was a mysterious tunnel discovered under Leland Parkway, and asked if I wanted to come and watch it be uncovered, I immediately said heck yes.
Sure enough, the excavator dug open a tunnel that goes under Leland Parkway, from where the city ice rink is in the winter on the south side, to the Blue Earth River on the north side.
It was wide open inside, after they got through all the dirt piled up outside the entrance.
The question was immediately asked, what the heck was that used for.
Sure, it could have just been a culvert for draining water from the area that had once been the Blue Earth High School football field and track. But, it did not resemble a culvert.
It was a concrete tunnel.
It even appeared to have once had electric lights inside the tunnel.
So what was it?
The answer depends on who you ask.
Some former football and track stars don’t remember there being a tunnel there at all.
But one older gentleman, who also worked for the city, recalls football players coming out of the tunnel because they had been huddled up on the north side of the road.
A trackster from that era, Bruce Cherland of Edina, says it was the track team that used it, because the discus and shot put areas were on the north side of the road, and the tunnel provided a safe way to cross the busy road.
Yet another old timer and historian, A.B. Russ, says he recalls the tunnel was used just to flood the football field area when the river was high, to cut down on the road itself being flooded.
Beyer Field was built around 1935, according to a story in the Jan. 16, 2017, issue of the Faribault County Register. It was named after long-time Blue Earth Schools athletic director Chuck Beyer.
It was ‘decommissioned’ in 1968 when the current Wilson Field athletic complex was built. Beyer Field is now a winter activities park for the city, with a sledding hill and ice skating/hockey rink.
So, sometime between 1935 and 1968 that tunnel was built. The best guess seems to be in the 1950s, and perhaps it was boarded up at some point after that.
The problem now, of course, is what will happen to it. The construction crew rebuilding Leland Parkway has two choices. Tear it out or leave it but fill it in. Sounds like they now plan to tear it all out, grind it up and use it for road base.
My suggestion, of course, was to keep it and have it as part of a new walk path that is going to be constructed along side Leland Parkway.
I’m not sure anyone else thinks much of that idea, however.
Oh well. It still makes for a pretty good mystery. The Case of the Mysterious Blue Earth Tunnel.