I have photo evidence!!

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My sister Becca in Seattle’s underground tunnels. Do you see the strange spectral blobs?

A tip for every tour guide: never admit that your attraction was once on the SyFy show Ghost Hunters. It’s not because your wimpier guests might panic. Any mention of reality stars actually cheapens the thrill, believe it or not.

“All of the Ghost Hunters had ‘personal experiences’ down here,” said our guide of the hours the tubby celebrities spent staking out Seattle’s underground tunnel system (Video HERE). “But they couldn’t actually prove anything because of all the noise coming from the street above.” Riiiight.

Better to go straight into tallying the number of corpses that surrounded us as we tripped through the city under the City. Seattle’s foolish founders originally built part of the town literally on the beach, and after years of dealing with twice-daily flooding, toilets that exploded when the tide came in, and swimming pool-sized craters in the roads, they finally erected giant walls and began building new, elevated streets on top of the old ones. Buildings’ first floors became their basements, and the original sidewalks formed a dim tunnel system.

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The tunnels…

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And the skylights, which are part of modern Seattle’s sidewalks

How did they fill all the space between the first and second levels? With literally anything they could find, including dozens of dead horses! Oh, and then there was the Chinese gent whose corpse was waiting to be sent back home. He got tossed in, too. That’s not to mention the drunkards who fell from ladders and rats who were skirmished in a dime-a-tail initiative created to deal with the “rivers” of vermin that swept the tunnels nightly. Talk about a ghost zoo.

The most haunted part of the tunnels is the site of an old bank. Rumor has it, a banker was killed inside an underground vault during a heist and still “guards his gold” to this day.

I didn’t believe it… UNTIL I SAW THIS:

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Creepy shadow figure that is surely a supernatural being

Please don’t haunt me for doubting you, oh spirits.

While the spirits seemed to be in mint condition, the art of the underground was sadly almost completely gone. I kind of expected more from a historical site less than 200 years old. Instead, I got little more than a detail of a tin building facade and a single faded panel of wallpaper.

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Tin building facade

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Fading wallpaper

The wallpaper did fleetingly remind me of Pompeii’s exquisite murals, which in their various styles indicated the tastes and classes of the Roman city’s residents just before the volcanic eruption that so exquisitely preserved the city.  I had a brief art-chaeological geek-out moment when I photographed it. What does this wallpaper say about the emporium that was once in this gloomy cave?

“It’s hard to imagine now, but it was quite fancy,” said our tour guide. On the other hand, our tour guide has been known to say a lot of things.

BONUS LINK: Here are some other brushes I’ve had with ghosties.

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