It was like a step into the past for an Illinois man when he discovered an old underground tunnel below his home.

Gary Machens was gobsmacked to find a mysterious 19th-century tunnel just under his home.

Recently, Fox 2 St. Louis news visited Machens to take a tour of the hidden tunnel beneath his home. Furthermore, he told us how the tunnel was discovered and shared his theory about why it was built.

The tunnel was discovered after a section of the sidewalk collapsed, according to the video. He then discovered an entrance leading to something underneath.

In the video, Machens is seen standing inside the tunnel. He said, “Had a problem here at the sidewalk and as we were doing some excavating and repacking of the rock here, we discovered this tunnel here. Lotta brick. Whatever they built this for, it took a lot of men and a lot of hours. One guy didn’t do this.”

After the historians investigated the tunnel, they theorized that it was from around 1840. However, Machens stated that the house actually dates back to the 1890s.

He said, “Yes, three former mayors of Alton have lived in this house through the years. I don’t know if any of them knew about this. The house was built in 1890, the tunnel is believed from 1840, so it was here for 50 years. What it was used for, I don’t know. We’ve got maps that go back to 1863 and this house was not there and there was not another house on this property here. ”

The clip Machens found showed a set of stairs and offsets on the walls, leading him to believe that the crawlspace could have been used as part of the Underground Railroad. It’s possible it was also an ice storage area or cellar.

He said, “It could have been used for the Underground Railroad. There’s no proof of that but there was a ferry here in the Alton area to the Missouri side and it’s possible it could have been used for that. ”

He presumes that the townspeople covered the entrance to tunnel in approximately 1895, when the roads were lined with bricks.

He continued, “It’s unique, there are a few tunnels around the Alton area since we checked with the Landmark Historic Society. Why [are the stairs] stepped like this?” he said. “Why is that in there? Do you see the offset in the brick? And if you look along this wall it turns that way a little bit. Look down along this wall.”

Machens has expressed his love for history, saying that he plans to open the underpass to tourists- but only if the city is able and willing to support him with logistics and additional costs. For now, Machens is focusing on repairing his sidewalk and sealing up the tunnel’s entrance.

We’ve seen similar stories before, but this one is especially interesting. A woman in New York City was convinced that her apartment was haunted after she found a hidden room. She documented her discovery in a series of TikTok videos and people were quick to believe her story.