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Steam Tunnels connect all the major buildings on campus. They are used to transfer the steam from the heating plant to the buildings during the colder months. The steam tunnels are large enough for people to crawl through, and in earlier generations of Williams students, crawling across campus via the tunnels was a popular pasttime.
This ended, reportedly, when a student fled Security through the steam tunnels and seriously injured himself in his haste, needing to be hospitalized. Since then, tunnels are very sensitively alarmed and locked tightly, although a few openings may still exist.
Today, tunnels may be enjoyed from aboveground during the winter months. When snow is on the ground, look for it to melt markedly faster in certain pathways a few feet wide, in certain predictable places every season. These are the strips of land above the imperfectly-insulated steam tunnels.
Ian Nesbitt '13 claims to know the most about these tunnels of any student, past or present, having done a project on them in each of two different GEOS classes. Possessing maps, pictures, and knowledge of entrances, Nesbitt claims to use his powers only for good, citing the now-famous Stan Lee quote, "with great power comes great responsibility." Ian has traversed most of the tunnels legally, after taking an OSHA course on confined space safety, as required by campus Environmental Safety policies and OSHA laws.
- The following is NOT a diagram of the steam tunnel system. Since this image has been seen by many people and seems to have reached legend status, I am not deleting it in order for this explanation to make sense and hopefully reach the people who have been wrongfully informed. This map is of affiliated clusters of houses directly after fraternities were abolished, when the fraternity buildings were still commonly known by their Greek letter names. As far as I know, these houses were affiliated by where their residents ate, among other shared activities. It should be obvious to anyone viewing this map anyway that the network drawn in color would be a woefully inefficient system of steam distribution and does not even connect in many parts to the main distribution plant in the southeast part of campus.
Sources- Record articles on the early housing system: