As I indicated in my earlier post, the scientific method has to be used for us to locate and prove that the tunnels actually do exist.
The first step is to create a theorem: “The smuggler tunnels do exist”, followed rather quickly with the antithesis, “There are no smuggler tunnels”.
Then comes the theory, a rather structured statement of supposed facts based on analysis. In this case, our theory is based solely on eye-witness accounts by various individuals: (None in fact, from individuals who lived contemporaneously at the time of the manufacturing and use of the supposed tunnels)
Three tunnels exist and not parallel to public streets. They are located near Federal, Green and State. They run up from the waterfront (which would have been a few yards from Merrimac-Water Streets); assertions are made that the tunnels were used for smuggling first, and later, by their descendants, for smuggling slaves. The Tunnels ran up to High Street, connected, and ran straight through to Maiden Hill Cemetery, where an opening fed upon a cart lane which connected to the old Newburyport turnpike which was a straight arrow to Boston markets. Tunnels are reported to be accessed through doorways under several homes and many homes have entrances through their basements, mostly walled up. A fourth tunnel was constructed in 1839 for the purpose of bringing water from the Frog Pond and opens out at Sommersby’s Landing.
There are several questions that beg to be answered:
1. Where is the actual path of the tunnels? Do they run straight or have an involved route to the river?
2. How deep are the tunnels?
3. How are they constructed?
4. How could they be created without anyone knowing about them?
5. How is air, water tables, sea-level, etc. handled by this supposed tunnel system?
All the stories do have one consistent theme: The tunnel system opens up in a secluded, grove of trees at Maid Hill Cemetery. (Which later became Oak Hill Cemetery.)
For some reason, and this in spite of Ghlee’s book, Tiptoe through the Tombstones; the cemetery association has never taken the serious task of identifying who lies exactly where in the Oak Hill Cemetery. Some are put up on the Internet, and most others are safely found in Ms. Woodworth’s files; but the absolute identification of every plot has not been done. Sadly, the records are available and are moldering in a non-temperature controlled room just waiting to be recorded and filed.
So, basically, for us to find the hidden tunnel in Oak Hill Cemetery, we will need this ‘treasure’ map filled in completely. We can only guess until that is done, for it is not allowed to ever disturb or dig in the cemetery.
That will be a tedious, time-consuming project for a month or so,
we can actually track down, using Ground Penetrating Radar, the truth of the matter! Since all the stories indicate that the tunnel runs into the cemetery, then we have the perfect bottleneck. A short rise of land that runs under Brown Street and just before the Zombie Gate. (Tappan Gate) The land falls steeply away to the east and to the west, and there is no sign that the water/sewer department has ever dug in this short stretch of land.
The entire theory falls apart with great devastation if it is found that no tunnel runs under the roadbed!
Now, we just need the Ground Penetrating Radar. ($$$)
PS. The tunnels may still exist in a limited manner theoretically – but think about it. These merchants were well-respected citizens in old Newbury-port; it wouldn’t do to have smuggled goods stored and dispersed out of their basements. No, the illegal items, whether human or material; could not be held in these homes.