Monday, April 13, 2009

Investigation: Secret Underground Facility in Washington, D.C.

I had an opportunity to spend a few hours in Washington, D.C. last week, so I checked out a TOP SECRET NAVY TUNNELING PROJECT described in the Washington Post over four years ago. In spite of the Post article, which provided all the elements of a Great Conspiracy, the facility seems to have gotten no attention on the internet, and no one from the online secret base contingent seems to have accepted the open invitation to snoop around.

What's with you people? Psychospy vanishes for ten years and NOTHING GETS DONE! If those guys over at Dreamland Resort had been on the ball, they would have been all over this four years ago, but they're apparently more concerned with maintaining the purity of their organization.

My inquiry was based on this Nov. 26, 2004 article in the Washington Post

Navy Keeps A Secret in Plain Sight: Hush-Hush Project Underway by Potomac

The article describes a mysterious construction project in East Potomac Park near the Jefferson Memorial that was started in secret without going through any of the usual approval channels for construction in the historic capital area. It just "appeared" on Park Service land, apparently without even the Park Service knowing about it. The purpose of the work site was obviously digging, but no one in the government would say what the digging was for. It would seem to be a project born out of the post 9-11 security hysteria, but even that wasn't clear. Underground bunker for Dick Cheney? Evacuation tunnel under the Potomac? The article raised plenty of questions, but nobody seems to have followed up on them.

Four and a half years later, I decided to drop by. I was interested in it in part because I knew the area: I had walked close to the facility following the Obama Inauguration (photos), although at that time I wasn't aware of it. After an internet buddy clued me in to the Post article, I studied the article, did my Google Earthing and was reasonably prepared.
My full photo tour is contained in an annotated Facebook album that I invite you to examine:
My tour started at the Jefferson Memorial, which seemed like a good reference point. The cherry blossoms happened to be out, which is a big fricking deal in Washington. (I gather cherry blossoms are the dividing line between the miserable cold/rainy and the beastly hot/humid in our Nation's Capital.) I climbed the steps to talk to Tom, and from directly behind him I could see the facility.

The construction site, surrounded by a stockade fence, occupies former parkland between the highway and a Park Service office complex (so someone there had to know about it). It is on a peninsula jutting into the Potomac, but the fenced-in area is land-locked, with no direct access to the water. I decided to walk the perimeter of the facility to see what I could find.

The facility consisted of several big warehouse-type buildings. Of course I couldn't see inside, but like any black box, I could always analyze how they connected to the outside world. There was only a single gate (shown above), and there were no obvious utilities coming into the complex. No power lines, water mains or gas lines, and no obvious evidence of excavation to bring in these services underground. The facility would have to been self-sufficient for these things. There was, however, a small amount of water flowing out of the facility and into a storm drain.

Although the entire facility was surrounded by a tall wooden fence, I had no difficulty using my X-Ray Vision to see through it. Actually, there were tiny gaps in the slats that I could peer though, and one side of the site was adjacent to some raised railroad tracks. There was no fence or warning signs on the railroad tracks, so I could easily walk up to track level and poke my nose over the fence.

There was plenty of data to analyze! The power needs of the project were met by four big truck-size diesel generators (with one of them running). I have no idea about mega-wattage or any that technobabble, but I do know they can produce a shitload of power. I have seen similar-size generators in back of casinos in Las Vegas. (For example, there's one outside Palace Station.) The casino generators are designed to keep the slot machines and flashing lights running in case of a power outage, so if ONE generator could keep a casino running, FOUR generators was enough for all sorts of nefarious things.

The facility looks pretty much the same as it was pictured and described in 2004. It appeared to still be active, but not wildly so. I saw one worker in street clothes leave and another one inside the compound in a hard hat and safety vest, but no vehicles entered or left in the 45 minutes I was scoping out the perimeter. I was there roughly between 4:15 and 5:00pm (on April 6, 2009), which could have meant that most work was completed for the day and workers had already left.

It is pretty clear that whatever is happening at the project, it is happening underground. Since the intention is to return the land to park condition (according to the article), "down" is the only direction they can go.

As I walked the perimeter, I looked for signs of tunneling. There were no tailings piles (just some sand and gravel caches), and no obvious elevator tower, but the main building looked like it was designed to allow full size trucks to enter. The trucks could be filled with debris from the tunnel and then driven off. Unfortunately, I have no handle on how many trucks full of dirt have left the place in the past five years, so it's hard to judge how much tunneling has been going on.

Any underground facility also needs ventilation. I found the intake for that on the north side of the main warehouse building. The intake pipe was some 3-5 feet in diameter, and I could hear the woosh of air being sucked into it.

The land in this area, at least the top layers of it, is mucky fill, more like Jello than concrete. (The foundations of the Jefferson Memorial had to be sunk down 75 feet before they came to reliable bedrock.) The water table is very high—like six inches below the surface—so if you are going to tunnel here, you'll probably need to line your tunnel with concrete and pump out a lot of water as you do. A finished tunnel is probably also going to require continuous pumping. What happens to this water?

I think I found a processing system for the pump water, which you see in the album. I theorize that what is pumped out of the hole goes into a settling tank, is filtered a bit and then is released into a storm drain, probably consistent with environmental regulations. (Have appropriate environmental reports been filed?) The really big pipes suggest a facility that can process a LOT of pump water, but there seemed to be only a relative trickle being processed at the moment. Clear-looking water was flowing into the settling tank through a small three-inch pipe, and a comparable amount of water seemed to be flowing into a storm drain near the entry gate. I don't know if this was pump water or perhaps flushing water from an interior tank.

I didn't see any signs of recent changes in the facilities. I previously obtained top secret satellite images from the Google spy agency, and everything I saw on the ground was consistent with them (i.e. no significant changes between the time the images were taken and today). What I saw was also consistent with the descriptions in the Post four years ago. The project is STILL THERE, although the article suggested that it would be done by now.

As I left the facility and headed back to the Jefferson Memorial, I did a survey of something else that might be associated with digging: subsidence. If land was collapsing around the facility, that might suggest action underground.

Subsidence? Is there ever! ALL the land between the facility and the Memorial seems to be sinking, probably much worse than Venice, Italy. (You'll see it clearly in my photos.) The trouble is I have no evidence that it's been sinking recently. Since the whole area was built on crappy fill, the walkways and seawalls are a mess. One section of seawall near the Jefferson Memorial, originally about 3 feet above water, had sunk virtually to water level.

I asked a Park Ranger in the Memorial about it, using the clever cover story that I was a civil engineering fan who was just fascinated by seawalls. He assured me that the land had been sinking for decades, and he didn't think it had been sinking any faster in the past five years. He showed me a map of where the Tidal Basin had been filled in during construction of the Memorial in the 1930s, and sure enough, the portions of the seawall that have sunk roughly correspond to the areas that were filled in.

Then I came out of the closet, and asked him about that secret facility over yon. What was it for? Of course, he's working for the government (the sinister Ministry of the Interior), so I didn't expect a straight answer, but I got one anyway. He said it was a project of Homeland Security to allow the scanning of freight cars entering the capital. That threw me for a minute.The location might seem perfect for it, since this is the entry point for a rail line into Washington, but I didn't buy it. There is no direct connection between the facility and the railroad tracks. If you wanted to scan rail cars, you'd do it from a structure immediately adjacent to the tracks. Further probing revealed that this was merely his own theory about what the facility is for. In fact, he didn't know.

So what is the Navy digging for? I haven't a clue. Based on my political leanings, I can speculate that it's a crackpot terrorist defense scheme cooked up in the days immediately following 9-11 when terrorists seemed capable of anything, but I really don't know.

I think I covered just about everything I could from the field in 45 minutes. I've done the groundwork, and now I encourage others to do that Googling thing you do where you don't actually leave your home. For example, tell me about those contractors mentioned in the Post article.

If someone has more questions about the facility on the ground, perhaps I can answer them or maybe even go back there for a second look.

—Glenn Campbell


  1. Glenn, as a Virginia resident who's passed by your investigation site 100's of times, I'd say the owners are doing a good job in that it's pretty nondescript. In fact, your photos show a scuffy, work site. I find the "Clark Construction" signs interesting in that "Clark" is a commercial construction firm noted for office buildings, not Halliburton or Bechtel-type "black" projects. But the "Clark" signs may be there to mislead? The next step is to gauge how many trucks enter/exit the site on a daily/nightly basis. But that may not tell us much now since all the heavy lifting may have been done? Interesting - what's the next step?

  2. For me, there is no next step. I simply return to a state of centeredness -- the Tao of Psychospy.

  3. Hey, let's go old school we'll get Bob Lazar a job as a technician at the site, he'll reveal all sorts of sensational secrets stored under the site George Knapp after he gets fired (maybe 'ol Bob will have a couple new degrees by now!). The Gene Huff will get involved... Hmmm, I guess not, we've already lived through that soap opera...

  4. Hey, let's go old school we'll get Bob Lazar a job as a technician at the site, he'll reveal all sorts of sensational secrets stored under the site George Knapp after he gets fired (maybe 'ol Bob will have a couple new degrees by now!). The Gene Huff will get involved... Hmmm, I guess not, we've already lived through that soap opera...

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  6. Services would probably be micro tunneled into the facility with horizontal directional drilling, it is used alot to get services under roads and is used over greater and greater distances to avoid trenching.

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  8. I was just googleing "underground DC mysteries" and found this. I can't say I know anything new for you, but I am now intrigued and am searching for more unspecified construction in the area. Using Google again areal images of the White House show additional construction. Coincidence?

  9. ...there has also been a WaPo article recently about the construction work at the White House- i'm guessing that this new work is at far end of the tunnel work originating in East Potomac Park - and since the work has been going on for 8 years or so, perhaps it is more than "just a tunnel"...

  10. A few comments from a DC commuter who has been observing this site for years. 1. The Ranger's theory was, as you guessed, total BS. There are miles of open land along the tracks just across the river in Virginia that would serve much better as a screening site, especially considering the presumptive need for isolation and an inspection that takes place before entering the District. 2. There are two parking lots near the site, ostensibly built for tourists for access to the Jefferson Memorial. The lots are nearly full at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays, a time not generally convenient for out-of-towners to be admiring DC historic memorials. 3. On on my my recent urban recons, I observed a small 2-story windowless building on the banks of the Pentagon lagoon. The building appears to be fairly new, and is surrounded by a high barbed-wire fence. As of February 2012, there was an floating orange oil boom enclosing an area extending 30 or 40 feet into the water. The building is .8 miles SE of the tunneling site.

    1. Odd lack of interest in these sites on the part of both the mainstream media and the Web. As a D.C. resident, I've decided to do something about it. The Google Street View
      image shows an 18-wheeler flatbed entering AND a dump truck leaving, so there is still construction activity after all these years. On Jul 14 I saw them painting the guardhouse. They have permanent electric power now. I saw several empty cable spools. I'm planning a Web page devoted to this facility.

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