Weird News Stories

Living in the Las Vegas Underground

posted by Chris Valentine

The Sun has a story about people who live in the flood tunnels underneath Las Vegas:

Despite the risks from disease, highly venomous spiders and flooding washing them away, many of the tunnel people have put together elaborate camps with furniture, ornaments and shelves filled with belongings. Rather than working in the bars or kitchens, Steven and his girlfriend Kathryn “credit hustle“, prowling the casinos searching the slots for money or credits left by drunken gamblers. Their bed and many of their belongings are on crates to keep them off the damp floor. Despite it being hot and dry outside, their tunnel is wet from water being sent down from nearby construction work.


Steven moved into the tunnels two years ago after he lost his hotel front-desk job due to a heroin problem he claims he kicked in January. He says: “We work our way down the strip. The most I’ve ever found is 997 dollars on one machine. I’ve found about $500 a few times. But normally $20 or so is enough to call it a night. We buy food and supplies like shampoo and soap. Last night I went and watched the new Quentin Tarantino movie up at the Palms Hotel.
It is estimated the population of the underground community could be as many as 700. As well as credit-hustling, they earn their money off the wildly excessive city above by begging and “dumpster diving” – raiding bins and skips. There are around 350 miles of flood channels running under Las Vegas. Most inhabitants are in the area under the city’s strip.


Local writer Matthew O’Brien, who has had a book published about the tunnel people, called Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas, has been working with Steven and others to help get people housed. “It doesn’t rain much in Nevada but when it does the tunnels can fill very quickly. There have been 20 drownings in the last 20 years and a lot of those were people who were living in the tunnels. Steve and Kathryn can say they feel like they have a home. But when it pours down three inches of rain in two hours it’s clear it’s not a home. It’s a flood channel.

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