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Alcatraz hidden fortress: Secret stronghold underground, 19th century tunnels

An Alcatraz hidden fortress is sparking a renewed interest in the infamous Alcatraz federal prison this week. Experts have recently revealed they discovered a secret stronghold hidden underground, yielding some tunnels dating back to the 19th century as well as an old keep that was thought to have been destroyed many years ago. News Max provides the details on this stunning find this Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, telling of its subterranean channel system.

A massive fortress hidden underneath Alcatraz prison
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Buried relatively deep underground, an Alcatraz hidden fortress is unveiling secrets of the past. Below the prison, researchers have become aware of an old military stronghold that includes more than one complex tunnel that can be traced back all the way to the 19th century. While tours are still commonly held today at Alcatraz, this is one place that visitors likely have never seen with their own eyes.

It was Mark Everett, a geology professor at Texas A&M University, who recently joined an expert team from California and the National Park Service in the unearthing of this secret fortress. The National Park Service is said to be working with these academic authorities because they are the current maintenance teams that preserve the old Alcatraz prison and current historical landmark.

Service officials were the first to discover that the underground Alcatraz hidden fortress was buried beneath the rocky outcroppings of the desolate island. They also learned of formerly unknown subterranean tunnels (what may have been used as a channel system) that goes back to the time of the Civil War in the 19th century.

"They pointed out these areas of interest and asked us to come and scan them, to do the geophysical work," Everett said, noting that researchers took advantage of different ground-measuring radar technologies to locate tunnels and structures of the old stronghold.

The hidden fortress underneath Alcatraz was known to some historians, but a majority believed that it had been destroyed dozens of years ago with the construction of the massive federal prison.

"(The tunnels) would have been used for the fortifications. There would have been movement of man and ammunition; it would have been bomb proof and covered with earth so it would have been protected," Everett continued. "We get signatures that indicate there is not only a tunnel, but magazine buildings too."

It is still being reviewed at this time just what the ancient stronghold and underground tunnel system was used for, but it may be linked to Alcatraz and San Francisco being key players in the California gold rush of the mid 1800s.

"I think most people know that in 1848 gold was discovered in California, and before that time San Francisco was really a very small town," Jason Hagen, a historical architect for the National Parks Service, told BBC News. "But once gold was discovered here, San Francisco became a very important part for the country and for the West Coast, and so protecting it really was the point of building the fortress of Alcatraz."

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