• Historians divided on tunnels beneath McAlester buildings

    By: Paris Holmes


    Story Highlights

    • There are hidden tunnels beneath many old buildings in McAlester.
    • Historians don't agree on what their uses were.
    • Some say the tunnels were extended basements and others say they acted as underground storefronts.

    MCALESTER, Okla. - A secret buried beneath some McAlester buildings divides some area historians.

    Local historians have multiple explanations for “hidden tunnels” located underneath many of the old buildings in downtown McAlester, especially along Choctaw Avenue. 

    Two weeks ago, a forklift fell through the ground into one of the tunnels located in from of Dottie’s Children’s Boutique.

    David Beall, president of the Pittsburg County Genealogical and Historical Society, believes the tunnels are extended basements under the stores that were once used to get supplies into the building. 

    Local historian, Carolyn McNatt, on the other hand, considers them true tunnels or covered walkways that served as underground storefronts for celebrities, socialites and even outlaws.

    According to historians, many of the tunnels or basements have been filled in and covered through the years, but they are still accessible through some buildings.

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