Mythbusters: uncovering the truth about Portland tunnels

Each month in our e-connection, Bill Barry (MHS reference librarian, author and historian) writes a column called “Bills’ Mythbusters” in which he posts claims and truths about Maine lore.  One of the most frequent inquiries he and other reference librarians at MHS receive are about the alleged tunnels that run through downtown Portland. It seems everyone has a story about a tunnel they (or a friend of a friend of a cousin) have traveled through.  In an effort to uncover the truths, we’re hitting the streets- talking to city officials, historians, business owners, and you!

We want to hear your myths about the Portland tunnels! Add your comment to this blog post or send e-mails to rdesk@mainehistory.org, subject line “Tunnel.”

Next month in our August e-connection we’ll reveal the mother of all Mythbusters so stay tuned.

In 2005, Michelle Souliere of Strange Maine wrote a blog post about the tunnels. Blog readers wrote in with tunnel myths, and one such person described a “tunnel to the future.”

A few tunnels we have heard legends of are:

  • The passage between the old Portland Press Herald Building at 119 Exchange St. and the printing facility across Congress Street.
  • The passage between the Congress Building (State Theater) and the Eastland Park Hotel from the days when the Rines family owned both structures.
  • A passage from 489 Congress (Maine Historical Society) across Congress Street, from the days when our building was a jewelry store that had another shop across the street.
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