The Test Site Train Revisited

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The Test Site Train Revisited

by Tom Mahood, May, 1996


One of the more fascinating stories/rumors/legends of the Test Site for me has always been the idea of a subterranean train system, speeding workers to their secret underground facilities, where they toil away at only God knows what. In the past, I’ve presented a couple of third hand stories, tending to reinforce each other, describing the existence of such a transportation facility.

Since coming across the stories, I’ve always kept an eye out for anything that might either support or refute them. I had a chance to speak with someone who was a former electrical worker at the NTS, and he offered a possible source from which the stories might arise. This person suggested the “underground train” could simply be a distortion (after retellings) of the trains used to move workers and goods in the tunnels in the Rainier Mesa area. He also pointed out that most, if not all, of the buses used to ferry workers around the Test Site have very dark desert tint windows. Again, an aspect of the story (the blacked out windows) that could have been distorted through retellings. . While these are attractive rationalizations, the element of the story having the facility under a dry lake bed (as well as the casualties) remains unexplained.

Two recent sources of information now make me think that a distortion of a real facility, as described by the former worker, is indeed the likely source of the stories.

The first is a very interesting new publication titled “The Nevada Test Site – A Guide to America’s Nuclear Proving Ground” by The Center for Land Use Interpretation. (It’s available through Glenn Campbell) It turned out to be a pretty good guide to the NTS, with a lot of photos. This book had the best description of the tunnel complexes on Rainier Mesa I’d seen so far.

I’ve toured one of the tunnel complexes in Rainier Mesa before, P Tunnel, and was most impressed. The complex itself seemed huge. Transportation in was via a “man train” (I seem to recall it was electric powered, but am not 100% sure), consisting of open cars, but nothing like a sophisticated light rail train as described in the stories. Nor was there anywhere to be seen anything that could be construed as a “station”.

However, after reading the Test Site Guide I discovered to my surprise that the P Tunnel complex is one of the smaller complexes in Rainier Mesa with “only” 3 miles of tunnels. There are 15 other complexes in Rainier Mesa, with one of them, the N Tunnel complex, having 22 miles of tunnels. With that kind of mileage, some sort of transportation system is essential. The E Tunnel complex also seems to have some very long tunnels, but I don’t know its total mileage.

The book has an exhibit showing a more detailed map of the tunnels specifically of the N Tunnel complex. It clearly shows two spots labeled as “man train pickup station” within the tunnel system.

Putting that bit of info aside for a moment, I’ll move onto the second item. It’s from the currently circulating Environmental Impact Statement for the NTS. In the on-site transportation section, the EIS mentions that there used to be a bus shuttle service that ran workers from Mercury to Area 12, the base camp for the Rainier Mesa complexes. I say “used to” because everything is pretty much mothballed right now.

So, just what do we have here that’s known? We have a bus system that took workers from Mercury to Rainier Mesa in buses with dark tinted windows. There the workers passed through what could be described as a “station” at the mouth of the tunnels (On my tour it even had turnstiles) where they boarded a train and proceeded into the tunnels. In the larger tunnel systems, there were at least several points where workers could disembark (although I’d be inclined to describe them more as “stops” rather than stations, but that’s what they were called).

In my opinion, this matches the stories well enough that I’d consider it the best explanation for them (I’m feeling uncomfortably like Phil Klass here!).

What about the possibility of some secret research facility accessed by this transportation system? Something hidden deep within Rainier Mesa? I haven’t come across anything that would rule it out, and it certainly would be a nice place to hide something. It also would be a fairly clever and sneaky move on our government’s part, making me, as a taxpayer, proud. Could it be an ALIEN research facility? Well, I’ll just diplomatically suggest that if this is indeed the source of the underground train stories, it wouldn’t change the probabilities of the existence of an alien research facility either way…


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