The Answer Behind Who Dug These Mysterious Tunnels In Washington D.C. Is Really Bugging Us

People who live in Washington, D.C.’s Dupont Circle district may be unaware that there are underground tunnels underneath their feet. These were discovered in the early twentieth century, and several ideas were proposed as to what role they performed.

The answer was a bit surprise. Continue reading to discover the mystery that has been concealed for years.

The first discovery

In 1917, Americans first learned about a concealed tunnel. The initial finding was made during the construction of the old Pelham Courts flats.

Laborers discovered a 22-foot-long masonry tunnel, as reported in the news. So far, so enthralling. But, unfortunately, the mystery would have to wait. The Architect of the Capital website notes one or two international events that occurred at the time that took the sting out of the narrative.

“Only a month earlier, the United States had formally entered World War I, and the Selective Service Act had been approved precisely the day before the story was published,” they write. In other words, it was time to enlist the whole populace into battle.

Events progressed, and the tunnel remained in place, seemingly forgotten.

That sinking feeling

Now fast forward to 1924. A far more spectacular discovery was made of what looked to be a subterranean network. A truck ran over a weak point at Pelham Courts this time. It unintentionally revealed “an complex, multilevel tunnel,” according to the Washington Post.

According to reports, the investigators entered a small but well-shapedshaped chamber with a standing room. It was built out of a costly white enamel brick. With electric illumination installed, this was obviously a large effort for whoever finished it.

The ceiling decorations caught a lot of attention. Or, more precisely, German newspapers during 1917-18. Architect of the Capital highlights news from the Post, which adds the documents had head-scratching ciphers added to them.

What were the mystery tunnels?
Immediately, an image of wartime intrigue emerged in the minds of reporters and readers. But which one? What was the First World War? What about the Civil War? Nobody knew how long the tunnels had been there.

The network’s mastermind was eventually identified. He wasn’t a spy, but an entomologist. To me and you, he is a bug specialist.

The man responsible

Harrison G. Dyar Jr. worked at the Smithsonian Institution. It takes a clever individual to secure a position at such a prestigious workplace. And what he did in his spare time suggested a restless, possibly compulsive, personality.

His fascination in tunnels began small. Dyar, in fact, was excavating a flowerbed when he was bitten by the beetle. He said in an interview with the Washington Star that he was “seized by an irresistible need to keep going.”

Dyar worked on a network 24 feet underground elsewhere, in addition to the tunnel underneath Pelham Courts, according to the Post. This was a pastime for the prominent mosquito specialist, something he performed at home. Specifically, beneath it.

The second tunnel system’s ceilings were arched, like some medieval catacomb, according to the Post. “Dyar had carved the heads of animals and people in spots.”

He was unable to interpret the German papers. He was apparently not present when they were used. So, who was using the tunnels during his ostensible absence? That is still a complete mystery.

Harrison G. Dyar’s legacy

According to Smithsonian Magazine, Dyar’s work as an entomologist above ground “furthered the understanding of the elusive function of larval stages in taxonomic categorization.” We won’t bore you with the specifics, but he was the inspiration for Dyar’s Law, a conventional method of calculating insect lives that uses larval head size as a reference.

The Magazine also mentions his tremendous production, whether it’s identifying species or compiling data on thousands of creepy crawlies. They discuss Marc Epstein’s book Dyar, Moths, Myths, and Mosquitoes, which was published in 2016.

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