Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

July 19, 2010

Seattle - July 15, 2010 Part II: Underground Tour

While in Pioneer Square, we went on the famous Bill Speidel's Underground Tour. Seattle had a rough start in the mid and late 1800's, to say the least. For many reasons that are too extensive to go into without a complete dissertation of Seattle history, part of the city ended up below the new curbs that were built after the many tidal floods and a fire. What now remains of that area is full of rubble and abandoned bits of old Seattle. It was a very informative and interesting tour and I highly recommend it to anyone who visits. I learned more about the Seattle sewer system than I ever needed to know. Our tour guide, Shane, was absolutely hysterical and entertaining.

Part III will be Seattle Center.


  1. Super cool! Hope you are having fun.

  2. That must have been fascinating. I love weird stuff like that.

    I would love to visit some of the disused London Underground stations, but there isn't a tour, There is lots of stuff hidden under London - including rivers running through drainpipes!

  3. I have never done that tour. Apparently there is a really cool one here in Portland too, but Ive never even done that one.

    And I didnt laugh at your comment about the tide tables. Normally, I do the same. I didnt realize those pools were even there, so it was a worth taking the chance that it would not be good timing. It could have been worse! There could have been no beach at all :)

    Looking fwd to part 3 ...

  4. Heather J12:36 PM

    That's amazing! And yet...more about the sewer system than you ever wanted to know? I'm curious. Do the sewers connect with the underground area in any way? Could someone go from the Underground to the sewer? I'm a writer and I'd love my characters to have a great chase scene through the Underground, and if there's a way to route them through the sewer from there, how fantastic!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Hi Heather J! Thank you so much for stopping by and welcome!

    The pioneers who settled Seattle were from the midwest and didn't realize when they built the city on tideflats that they'd be subject to floods. When people built their homes on higher ground, and received the very first toilets (invented by Thomas Crapper, which is why toilets are called Crappers), they needed a way to transport the waste to the water. They built a wooden sewer line out of planks and hammered them together into a 4-sided pipe. Unfortunately, they had to time their flushing with the tides. If the tide was coming in and they flushed, the results to their bathrooms were less than desirable. The newspaper had to print the tide tables on the front page so people could plan their flushes accordingly.

    After the city burned down, they decided to rebuild the curbs and streets and sewers above the tidal line. The shop owners still owned the land so they rebuilt their shops below the new street level. Eventually it was all abandoned.

    The underground is accessible in 3 locations; we would see one section, come up onto the street, walk to another block and then descend again, back on the street, and back underground. It was a fascinating experience.