Salem Tunnel Report in Baltimore and Washington DC

George Peabody, Alexander Brown, and Charles Bulfinch

So on my travels looking for community in America, I stumbled on some possible tunnels; well I knew they had to be there, but I still had to find them. Well, at least I found the tell-tale signs; everywhere but Washington D.C. There I walked into a new one.

It all starts in 1795 when Harrison Gray Otis gives architect Charles Bulfinch the contract to build a new statehouse in Boston in the pasture of John Hancock’s house. This was most likely in the area that the tunnels extended from Hancock’s wine cellar. They just had to tap into an old tunnel system and stretch it through the Beacon Hill neighborhood they just purchased from the painter John Singleton Copley who was living in England at the time. The governor and Bulfinch saw the lack of proximity to their advantage and refused to pay the painter for years. To prepare the ground for the new State House Bulfinch erected a funicular railroad to take down the Tremont Hill and dump the dirt within Mill Pond and the mudflats of the Charles River.  While he was doing this, he was digging new tunnels and connecting them to the new manors he was building also. All he had to do was sneak the tunnel dirt into the dirt coming down from the hill.

Did you know Hancock was our 4th and 13th president? Both terms he served before Washington…He was president when he signed the Declaration.

He copied this plan in Salem MA, Newburyport MA, and Washington D.C. The difference in Washington was that there was no water to hide the dirt in front of the Capitol he was hired by President Monroe to rebuild after the War of 1812. So they dug a canal leading to the Capitol so he could hide the dirt in the piles being carted away, then filled in the ditch with water. The canal has since been removed. Maybe while they were creating new tunnels.

Now did you know, that between the Jefferson and Adams wings of the Library of Congress there are 4 layers of tunnels the public is welcome to walk through? Also, you can leave the Library of Congress and head to the Capitol. Once in the Capitol, you can continue to the Hart Senate Office Building. Here are some pictures.

 

Now besides Bulfinch who resided in Salem for a period, there was George Peabody. He and his brother utilized tunnels in Newburyport, MA that Bulfinch built for their dry good store. Then George followed an uncle to the Georgetown section of Washington. Another location rumored to have tunnels. Then Peabody followed a friend he served with during the War of 1812 to Baltimore in 1816 moving their company Riggs& Peabody they formed a year prior in Georgetown.  They moved to Baltimore because it was closer to the slave and cotton markets they were participating in.  In 1829 Riggs retired to NYC and in time his home was incorporated into the US Customs House. The Customs House in Salem Ma was connected to the tunnels, and I will assume the one in NYC was too.

Before moving to New York, Elisha funded the bank of Corcoran & Riggs in Washington, DC, which was organized by his son George Washington Riggs. When the United States sought a loan to finance the Mexican–American War, the Riggs bank was the only institution to bid for the full amount and lent the government $34 million in 1847 and 1848. After the retirement of William Corcoran, Elisha’s son George Washington Riggs and his grandson Elisha Francis Riggs took over the business as Riggs & Co. in Washington. It was successfully run as such until July 1896 when it assumed its present name as the Riggs National Bank. The bank still stands at its original location as PNC Bank. Riggs Bank was the bank of choice for the CIA and the dictators they supported. Corcoran & Riggs had many US politicians and presidents under their influence through their time in operation. Peabody kept close ties to his business partner’s son’s bank.

Peabody also was close to Alexander Brown who founded the B&O railroad in Baltimore. Peabody secured loans from Joshua Bates of Baring Brothers Bank for the railroad. Bates was from Salem as well and his uncle was Thomas Perkins who started the opium empire that grew the Forbes fortune. Baring Brother’s was one of the English banks that profited from loans it secured for the First and Second National Bank after the Revolutionary War and The War of 1812. After both wars with the English, we sold 70% of the debt we incurred to the enemy.

Alexander and Henry Baring married the daughters of William Bingham. William Bingham married Thomas Willing’s daughter. Willing was president of The First National Bank. Bingham was the man who Alexander Hamilton sought advice from to make the First National Bank. The First National Bank lost its charter in 1811 for selling the majority of the loans that congress needed to the British who we defeated in a war. Samuel Ward was Baring’s agent who secured several bribes to many of Salem’s wealthy and politicians so that at the close of The War of 1812 they would ensure a Second National Bank. In which they did and they all became directors of the new bank. So in 1836 Jackson closes the bank for selling 70% of Congress’ debt to England once more after a war with them. So when Peabody secured the loan for B&O, two of Thomas Perkins’ nephews were controlling partners in Baring Brothers Bank.

Also in response to Jackson’s Bank Wars Peabody engineered the 1837 Panic with Lionel Rothschild and created the first bank bailout when he bailed out the Brown Brothers Bank in Liverpool, Alexander’s son’s bank. This was the first of a series of panics, depressions, and great recessions that happen on a 20-year timetable. Peabody & Co. Bank is now known as JP Morgan Bank. JP Morgan and Morgan Stanely were fined for creating the 2008 Finacial Collapse.

Now when I walked around Brown’s Wharf in Baltimore I had seen plenty of tell-tale signs of tunnel activity. First, there were delivery entrances in the sidewalk everywhere in the area. These are created when you remove the roof of a section of a tunnel to give access through the foundation to the basement. Then you block off the tunnel from going any further. Tunnels usually run in front of a store under the sidewalks. Also in the Hats in the Belfry shop, they had a trapdoor. Many times that was an access point to get into those smuggling tunnels. Also, there were locations where they had steps leading to doors under the sidewalk. In some places, these are points in which the tunnel ran into the building that was later converted to a basement entrance by removing the top of the tunnel and blocking it by a staircase and utilizing the tunnel entrance to the basement. Why put a second hole in your foundation if you do not need to?

Peabody and Baltimore are also connected by the library he built which is now part of John Hopkins Univesity. There are many stories of tunnels under the university. Also, there is Hutzler’s department store shoppers’ tunnel under Saratoga Street. It linked the main store with another set of buildings that housed the toy department, garage, and a soda fountain. It is similar to Daniel Low in Salem that has a tunnel that led to its warehouse. Another passage under Calvert Street at Lexington connected the old Federal Reserve Bank with the old Post Office. Through Peabody’s bank, JP Morgan was able to create the Federal Reserve, The Third National Bank. Then there was the tunnel under Federal Hill. Rumors of tunnels exist under Salem’s Colonial hill fort as well. Plus many of the B&O trains had tunnels to run through hiding them from those walking through the city. Then a quick search found tunnels under Lexington Market, The Washington Monument, Westminister Hall, and the Baltimore Basilica.  Here are a few pictures I had found online.

So there are a few connections between Salem and Baltimore that run deep below the surface. Some of them appear even in the game Monopoly that was developed in Salem. Because of George Peabody, Rich Uncle Pennybags is modeled after JP Morgan and the game reflects Peabody’s investment in the B&O Railroad and the Boston and Maine which bought his Eastern Railroad. Also, Peabody dug the first train tunnel in the nation that was attached to an underground train station used by the smugglers in Salem. Alexander Brown seemed to be a good student of his.

If you have any information about the tunnels in Baltimore let us know below in the comment section. If you want to find out more about the tunnels in Salem MA read Salem Secret Underground: The History of the Tunnels in Salem and Sub Rosa.

 

 

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