Angels and the Devil’s Tunnel at the Blalock

Above: The story of Solvieg and Turid at the Blalock Medical facility, immigrants from Norway and caught up in the 1919 flu epidemic, was a legend at the mansion. Turid had died but came back on a regular schedule to talk with her mom. Story of the Blalock and the flu epidemic in the category of stories above. Will work on getting a link working, hang with me.

The tunnel, below, built from the Blalock Mansion to downtown Port Edwards was the idea of the serious but practical asylum director, Dr. Cindy Ratchett. Planned with the citizens of the mansion, in 1905 she and others devised a building project, a half mile tunnel. This was done in secret, and not even the officials from the Village of Port Edwards knew about it. If you travel in the present-day 7th Street area, great quantities of earth that workers brought up can be seen as mounds around the original mansion foundation.

The tunnel entrance in the basement was a starting point, dipping down and under the waterway later known as Ripple Creek. It also went under the railroad tracks by a safe margin, coming up near the railroad depot. There the Blalock citizens could emerge when no one was looking and in that way could blend into the crowds at busy village times. Dr. Ratchett felt it essential that the citizens/ patients of the Blalock Asylum could adapt to the outside world.

The tunnel remains to this day, but few people know exactly where it is.



2 Replies to “Angels and the Devil’s Tunnel at the Blalock”

  1. Wow, I know this is all a product of your imagination but it brings back some eerie things that Ang and I went through when searching for some information about my mom. Mom was born in 1915 and in 1924, with the great tuberculosis epidemic she was stricken and sent to the Muirdale Sanitarium in Milwaukee. The Muirdale was renowned in the treatment of TB. I often wondered how a poor farming family paid for that. At the age of 9 she was put on the train leaving the Amery depot and off she went for almost 3 years. She survived but while she was gone her dad passed from the same disease. Now all these years later we went in search of some record of her confinement at Muirdale. Nada!! There was not a scrap of paper to be found but in a basement picture, very similar to the “tunnel” you depict, were boxes and boxes of old patient records that had succumbed to mold, mildew and flooding over the lapsed 90 some years. Oh how I wished I had those boxes to go through paper by paper. Your fantasy hits creepily close to home.

    1. Yvonne, thanks so much for that. I may save that if you don’t mind and can put it in an Amery email soon. Consumption or TB had quite a history, and I’m learning more and more about it as time goes on. The term consumption has to do with it sickening a person and consuming the body, wasting away. When my students saw it, they thought it might be from too much or the wrong kind of eating. Isn’t that an awful feeling when you know that if they had kept the records in a safe spot, a lot of people such as you would know about someone who was related. I might do a blog post about TB and I’ll check with you to use some of your experiences. Not sure how they paid for it, that would be worth and examination by itself.

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