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Instead of going to the beach, tunnel maven Bob Diamond has a novel way to beat the sweltering July heat: go underground.
Thirty feet under the hot asphalt covering Atlantic Avenue lurks an urban oasis of sorts, the once-forgotten Long Island Rail Road tunnel.
Diamond, the founder and president of the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association (BHRA), and re-discoverer of the tunnel on Atlantic Avenue between Hicks and Court streets, regularly leads subterranean tours.
“It’s nice and cool, about 65 degrees,” Diamond noted.
The upcoming July 13 tour will feature a vignette by the performance company LiveFeed.
“It will be a re-enactment of a foreman being killed by sandhogs,” Diamond said, referring to the nickname given to those who dig tunnels.
The tunnel, built in 1844 as a route between New York Harbor and Boston, was sealed up and abandoned in 1861. It is the subject of a documentary appropriately called “The Tunnel.”
A DVD teaser has recently been released, and Diamond is now mulling a contract from the production company, Hungry Man.
“I’m ecstatic about getting the contract from Hungry Man, but what I’m really psyched up about is finding out what is behind that wall after waiting all these years,” Diamond said.
His belief is that an old steam locomotive is buried within one of the tunnel walls. Because acetylene torches were not yet available to dismantle the locomotives, they were often buried underground, Diamond noted.
A trailer for the film, which is awaiting financing, can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7h4ugetCcw.
“It is very exciting that they recognize the story of the tunnel,” he said. “It will bring a lot of credit to Brooklyn.”
Diamond, fast becoming a local celebrity, was recently featured on the History Channel program “Cities of the Underworld” in an episode called “New York: Secret Societies.”
Diamond will lead his next public tour of the tunnel on Sunday, July 13 at 1:30 p.m. Call (718) 941-3160 for reservations and information. Flashlights and comfortable shoes are recommended. For more information about the BHRA, go to www.brooklynrail.net.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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