Alumnus reflects on illicit UT tunnel adventures

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Photo Credit: Albert Lee | Daily Texan Staff

UT alumnus Kevin Miller is a self-proclaimed habitual trespasser. 

Almost 20 years ago, Miller stumbled upon a well-kept University secret. Miller discovered a network of tunnels containing key utility lines that run underneath the University while working on a photography project for a class during his third year at UT. 

“I remember the specific moment of following this tunnel and feeling a blast of cool air above me and looking up and seeing the sky,” Miller said. “I suddenly realized that I was in a tunnel that connected one building to another.” 

In 1928, UT engineering professor Carl J. Eckhardt Jr. oversaw construction of UT’s underground tunnel system. According to the Texas Tribune, the system is still used today to transport energy across campus. 

Miller said he continued to explore the tunnels for the rest of his time at the University and even returned a few times after graduating in 2001. 

While still in school, Miller made a map of the tunnels and posted it on his personal website. Williams said initially nothing ever came of the map, but then people found it, and it started spreading. 

Miller later appeared in “Subterranean City: The UT Steam Tunnels,” a 2005 documentary about the tunnels. When news of the tunnels spread after the documentary, UT officials warned students not to try to access them.

“Anyone caught trying to enter the tunnels, anyone caught in the tunnels — they will be arrested and they will be put in jail,” University spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon said in an interview with KVUE. “If they’re a student, they will no longer attend the University of Texas at Austin.”

Miller said there are door triggers and motion detectors throughout the tunnels but that he never got caught and was never contacted by UT. By the time people knew what he had done, the statute of limitations had passed, Miller said. 

“People down there aren’t going down there to cause trouble,” Miller said. “They’re going down there to explore and answer their own curiosity. Urban explorers want to discover things for the sake of discovery.” 

In addition to a habitual trespasser, Miller identified himself as an urban explorer, someone who explores man-made structures often abandoned or hidden from the general public. 

Corporate communications senior Alyssa Hollander said she doesn’t think many students currently attending UT know about the tunnels.

“I’ve heard lots of conspiracy theories about the tunnels but wasn’t sure if they even existed,” Hollander said. “I would be thrilled to see them in person, but it’s just not worth the risk.”

Today, people can find Reddit threads online full of speculation about the tunnels, including theories about why they exist and how to access them. 

Miller said the tunnels were one of the highlights of his college experience.  

“I had this maybe selfish feeling of knowing that in this busy place, with thousands of people coming and going, that, as far as I could ever tell, I was the only one who knew about the tunnels,” Miller said. “It was exciting to have this secret that I could share with people.”