Tour of the tunnels beneath West Albany High School and how the system works

Misconceptions, Myths, and the truth about the tunnels under the school


It may be a surprise to some, but everyday students are walking over a tunnel system which lays hidden beneath the hallways of West Albany High School, and it is unsurprisingly surrounded by rumors and mystery. The tunnels match up to every hallway in the old portion of the school, with the exception of E-Hall. The tunnels do not go beyond the boundaries of the hallways.

     The tunnels have been around since the original construction of the school, so they have been around for the past 70

years, and the purpose of the tunnels is a little anticlimactic. Mike Guilliot, a district employee and a heating and air conditioning professional, has been working with the tunnels for the past 16 years, and the system is in place for almost one reason. “One of the main uses [of the tunnels] is to move air through the building,” Guilliot said. While the tunnels are also full of various water lines for classrooms, it’s also home to the sewer line. 

     And despite the tunnels being as old as they are, over the past decades only one part has been replaced. That piece acts as a controller for the fans that connect to the roof. The fans  previously  only had an on or off function, which wasn’t energy efficient in any way. Now staff can control the strength of the fans in order to match outside temperatures. The old part used to be a pressure controlled pneumatic system.

     One of the most common myths about the tunnels is that they connect to the other schools in the district. West Albany, Calapooia, and Memorial all have tunnel systems, or also known as the “pits,” or the “crawls.” “West Albany was the first time I had seen [the underground HVAC system],” Guilliot said. It’s uncommon for such a small town to have anything like what Albany has.