Standing straight since 1913, East High may have more stories to tell underground than what’s seen from above.
With the new building completed in 1997, East High School—located on 840 S. 1300 East—hides stories of its past building beneath the new structure.
Behind the boarded up walls that led to the charred steps below, remnants of East High School still stand despite the fire that “gutted” the old building in 1972, according to Rich Stowell, author of “Tunnel Club” in a reflection about the secret tunnels.
The interest in the tunnels sparked within the minds of a group of boys who, in 1990, set themselves destined to find the pool that supposedly sat below.
The group’s first discovery was a set of stairwells that were burned out due to the fire, covered up, and replaced by a new exterior stairwell that was to par with modern fire codes.
Students that pertained to the schools’ club, whose motive was to, “explore the caves in and around the Salt Lake Valley,” according to Stowell, started breaking into the building during night hours in order to continue with their exploration in hopes of finding the urban legend of the pool.
By the next year, the group of “explorers” grew to 30 members and were discovering newer points of interest such as fallout shelters, passageways and even points of observation where classrooms could be peered into through vents.
Nightly outings, however, were brought to an end when the school placed infrared cameras and motion detectors for surveillance.
By 1996, everything that stood before 1975 was torn down and demolished along with all traces of tunnels, stairways and perhaps the elusive pool.
“Yes, totally. It would be so cool” said Jasmine May, first-year undeclared major, when asked if the tunnels should be re-opened for visiting purposes. “I would like to [have known] more about it while I was there.”
May graduated from East High School in Spring 2015, along with a graduating class that may have also never known about the tunnels down below.