Benoit Speaks

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Much lore surrounds the Columbia Tunnels, but also much fact, and a tunneling SEAS ’01 student–operating under the nom de guerre Benoit–has made his e-mail address availible for those curious about Columbia’s subterranean avenues. Bwog staffer Brendan Ballou contacted Benoit nine months ago for his article on another tunneler (and all-around badass) Ken Hechtman, and received a reply this week. Benoit acceded to an interview via e-mail, originally published on Brendan’s blog.

Brendan: You are on Wikipedia.

Benoit: I know, I check from time to time what comes up when you search for “undercolumbia.” I don’t know who put my e-mail address there, but it wasn’t me. It has resulted in the address getting spam, which kind of sucks.

Do you and Mr. Hechtman know each other?

Not a chance. I’m SEAS ’01, Hechtman was at the College in 1986. The guy is around 40 years old now. I’ve never met nor corresponded with him in any way.

How did you become the explorer of the tunnels?

I heard about the tunnels just like nearly every incoming student. I didn’t start exploring until junior year. I came up with the whole e-mail gimmick;
I figured it’d be a nice way to meet fellow tunnelers. And it was. This account was started in September 2000, and maintained until July 2005, throughout which
about 150 people wrote in, from students to a few Facilities workers. Like I said, I went dormant in July 2005, but I’m back for the time being. I used to run regular tours, but I don’t anymore — honestly, I just don’t have the time. I have a regular career and “full-time life.” believe it or not ;-) In the intervening 11 months since July 2005, another 60 or so people have written in. There are a *lot* of fellow tunnelers at Columbia.

Did you find what you wanted in your explorations? Are you satisfied?

Yes, and yes. I consider myself Egotist #1 when it comes to the Columbia Tunnels, and I like to think that I’ll be the biggest name in tunneling at CU for a long time to come ;-)

I tried to see as much as I could see. Sadly, a lot of things underground have changed since I graduated. Pupin’s 1st floor, which used to be littered with
papers and gadgets dating back to the 1940s, was emptied over Summer 2003, for example.

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  1. excellent interview/article

    if somewhat short...good job getting back on track bwog. some of my imbalanced friends like to tunnel..its like a weird subculture

  2. R!ck

    Ohh, I've talked to Benoit as well. It's like talking to a celebrity, I tell you.

  3. Hey BWOG

    could you make that picture bigger/better quality so we can actually read the map? Thanks.

  4. g(tb)2

    I take it you all caught the G(tb)2 on that map. The band used to lead the tours. My favorite part was always climbing through the ceiling panels to get to the cyclotron

  5. Pupin's 1st Floor

    is still littered with stuff from the 40's last time I checked. I was down there in maybe March and a lot of the rooms had old books and old physics equipment and the like. Maybe there was more there before, but still pretty neat.

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