In 1919, a 70-year-old retired druggist named W.R. Young began to dig a tunnel into the side of a canyon northeast of where Fairmount Avenue meets Montezuma Road.
Young reportedly began to dig the 250-foot tunnel for health reasons, and in a statement to the press said, “I heartily recommend this to men who are feeling the approach of old age.” To aid him in his endeavor, Young recruited boys from the neighborhood to help him, and by the summer of 1920, his unique form of exercise had achieved remarkable results.
While the initial digging of the tunnel had provided untold hours of fun for the youngsters, the years that followed the tunnel’s completion also proved to be equally exciting. Through the years, it became the playground for packs of runaways and a street gang named the Sons of Satan, and at least one youngster met an untimely demise in an unfortunate cave-in.
In 1941, Young himself was killed in an auto accident near his home on East Mountain View Drive. Three years later, when new owners moved in to occupy his house, they claimed that they heard him return on a nightly basis to wander about in the attic. The mysterious footsteps persisted for more than a year, then suddenly ceased.
The tunnel itself was finally sealed shut in 1970 when the Alvarado Community Association had 20 feet of concrete poured into its two entrances.
—Susan Clarke-Crisafulli writes on behalf of the Alvarado Community Association.