BELLEVILLE, IL (KPLR) – Monday News 11 uncovered the past underneath the west end of Belleville. A history most residents of Belleville are not a where of under their feet.
Underground is a relic of the Cold War. A surplus of rations recently found on the Lindenwood University Belleville Campus.
These yellow lines on the former Belleville West High School, now known as Lindenwood University Belleville.
For the 2,300 students on the campus, they've never seen or been aware that directly underneath is a link to the past in tunnels beneath the campus.
It`s Andrew Reeves job to journey back in time as he oversees all the operations for Lindenwood University Belleville and the 61 homes they have in the area.
'I got real familiar with it,' says Andrew Reeves, Facilities Director Lindenwood University Belleville. 'Then from there I basically traveled throughout all of it and found all the entrance points to it. There`s a total of seven entrance points to the tunnels.'
Yes, the tunnels underneath the old Belleville West High School date back to 1915 when this old main hall first opened.
Long considered urban legend, we`re getting a look underneath the complex that Lindenwood University took charge of in 2003.
'All your steam pipes are fed through the boiler system here fed through this underground tunnel system which heats up all these old buildings,' says Reeves.
The catacomb of hot and cold pipes and concrete and brick tunnels are what Reeves became familiar with during a summer renovation off west Main Street at Lindenwood Belleville.
But it also uncovered an unused bomb shelter.
'There were old rations from the 1960`s,' says Reeves. 'Apparently, there were areas in the United States where they were going to store these materials in case something bad ever happened.'
'Many of the supplies we found were dated October 1962 so it would have been right around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis,' says Amy Gangloff, Associate Professor History Lindenwood University Belleville. 'So that was the time period when John F. Kennedy was basically facing off against Nikita Khrushchev on whether or not there would be Russian missiles stationed in Cuba.'
What they found were unopened water containers and boxes of crackers.
Now the university is using the unopened archives as teachable moments for students to get their hands-on living history.
'So it`s a great moment to look at the myths we tell about our past as well las our realities of those historical moments,' says Gangloff.