Waco underground tours suspended

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Waco’s Historic Underground Tour has been suspended indefinitely after drawing mixed reviews on social media and raising concerns with a city official who has reservations about the safety of leading people through a storm drain.

The entrance to the storm drain. (Photo by Sam DeLeon)

Robert Corley, the man behind Waco Historic Underground Tours, announced the suspension in a Facebook post at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

"I want to thank everyone who had taken the Waco Historic Underground Tour to view the natural springs and apologize to all that I did not get around to responding to and those that are unfortunate to have not gotten to see the uniqueness that Waco had to offer. Currently, this tour has been suspended until further notice and working with the City of Waco. Thank you again."

Corley, a Waco native, had been giving tours of the storm drain for about three weeks at a cost of $10 each.

The tour begins at the old Helen Marie Taylor Museum at 701 Jefferson Avenue where some historic tidbits are provided about the museum and the Huaco Indians who once lived on the museum site.

From there, it goes into a storm drain that runs beneath the streets of downtown Waco.

Corley says he's fascinated with the underground spring water that seeps through the walls of the tunnel and the mineral formations from the water, and even possible debris from the 1953 Waco tornado that was buried during the cleanup.

But some people who took the tour posted complaints on Facebook about getting no response to booking questions and others were just unsatisfied with the tour.

Corley said he is working to set up the tours on a booking website and apologized for not being able to keep up with the demand.

He said he went from giving tours of about five people per day to hundreds of requests as word spread about his tours.

Others complained about the up to 8-inch-deep water they had to wade through before being left behind by the tour guide.

Corley said he stopped at one point to direct the 20 people on the tour around a hole in the floor of the tunnel that could have been dangerous.

"I stayed there to make sure that nobody stepped into it and I shined my light on where they needed to be to avoid it, they went on by and I was the last one in that group. Well, by the time I got up to the front of the group, most of them had gone past where I normally stop."

Since that time Corley has said that the tour would not got down that far, which is under nearby buildings and some downtown streets.

He also said he is working to set up tours through a booking website to make response times to questions quicker.

In the meantime he wants people who weren’t satisfied to contact him and he will "make it right."

Meanwhile, Waco Public Works Director Chuck Dowdell expressed concern Monday about people being in the storm drain at all.

He said, when the city sends workers down there, they are trained first.

He raised questions about whether the tunnel is sound after a News 10 camera crew saw large holes in the floor of the tunnel with spring water running through them.

He questioned whether the tunnel has the proper lighting for people to walk around and the air quality.

While there's no gate or “keep out” sign, Dowdell said no one should be down there and those who are could be trespassing.