Not-so mysterious tunnels under Stroudsburg’s Main Street

April - photo - Main St. Tunnels
Main Street, Stroudsburg following the Flood of 1869.
By Amy Leiser, Executive Director
Monroe County Historical Association

Sorting fact from fiction is common in the field of history. One legend often revived is that of the secret tunnels under Main Street in downtown Stroudsburg.

Incorrect newspaper articles from the 1950s indicated these tunnels were used to “harbor refugees from the Wyoming Massacre in the French and Indian War.” According to popular belief, the tunnels served as a way for people to get from Fort Penn to McMichaels creek without being attacked by Indians.

In 1776, Jacob Stroud, founder of Stroudsburg, did fortify his residence to create Fort Penn, and survivors of the Wyoming Massacre did seek refuge there. However, the tunnels and Fort Penn are not connected.

These tunnels DO exist and are located under the lower portion of Main Street; however, they were not built over 200 years ago. The Main Street tunnels were created by an act of nature and the ingenuity of a Stroudsburg business owner.

On October 2-3, 1869, a damaging flood struck Monroe County, and Stroudsburg suffered the most damage. More than five inches of rain fell in a 24-hour period. By the morning of October 4, the waters had destroyed lower Main Street.

Many buildings suffered structural damage including the Wintermute Building at 522 Main. Due to the raging waters from the flood, a large hole had opened up, leaving the Wintermute building teetering on the edge of the large opening. After the flood waters receded, Mr. Wintermute, determined to rebuild, constructed a series of brick arches against the bank of the hole one on top of each other. It took three arches to reach street level and the Wintermute building.

With the firm foundation constructed, the hole on Main Street could be filled in and Mr. Wintermute was able to restore the façade of his building. The brick arches provided a cool cellar to store dairy and other perishable foods Wintermute sold.

While the tunnels under Main Street conger up the imagination, there is an explanation for their existence and a testimony into man’s resourcefulness.