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Over the summer, contractors building new curbs discovered the remains of an old railroad bridge under a section of North Lime Street in Lancaster. 

This month, for safety reasons, PennDOT filled the empty space under the bridge with concrete to ensure the roadway remains stable and safe for traffic.

What’s underneath Lime Street in the railroad bridge cavity? [photos]
Read what we dug up on the buried North Lime Street railroad bridge from LNP archives
Here's a look at how crews are filling Lancaster's buried railroad bridge cavity [photos, video]

The bridge isn't the only surprising piece of history lurking under Lancaster's streets and buildings. Here are a few more that LNP has reported on over the years:

The water under Water Street

During Lancaster's early years, a stream flowed along what is now Water Street. It was known at various times as Roaring Brook, Bethel's Run, Hoffman's Run and Gas House Run.

Today, an aging large-diameter sewer runs under the street, part of Lancaster's combined stormwater and sewer system. In 2002, LNP managing editor Tom Murse, then a reporter for the Lancaster New Era, described the eerie experience of sloshing through fetid, foul-smelling water down the pitch-black tunnel with the city's supervisor of wastewater operations.

Other streams and rivulets once threaded their way through Lancaster, and the area was home to numerous springs.

Read more: 

Was Water Street once a stream that flowed into the Conestoga River? [We the People report]
Underground odyssey: What it's like to slog through a sewer tunnel beneath Lancaster
Oblender's vault

A cold-storage vault under the former Oblender's Furniture Store site on South Queen Street is exposed during construction for the Lancaster County Convention Center in this December 2006 file photo.


An abandoned pedestrian tunnel

In 2003, a PPL crew installing a utility pole unexpectedly broke through the ceiling of an early 20th Century tunnel at the corner of Prince and Walnut streets. It turned out to be for pedestrians to pass safely under the former Pennsylvania Railroad line that carried trains to the old downtown station, which closed in 1929. The pedestrian tunnel was closed in 1934.

A story on the find from 2005 notes: "The city contains other such concealed cavities, including a smaller railroad underpass at Queen and Chestnut streets and a stone vault under the sidewalk at the old Oblender’s store on South Queen."

The latter reference is to the former Oblender's Furniture Store at 37-43 S. Queen St., north of the historic Thaddeus Stevens house site. It was torn down to build the Lancaster County Convention Center.

Read more:

RR 'subway': Well-appointed addition to underground Lancaster

The cistern at Thaddeus Stevens' house

In the early 2000s, a team of archaeologists uncovered thousands of artifacts, a kiln and an underground cistern where Stevens and his housekeeper, Lydia Hamilton Smith, are believed to have hidden slaves seeking freedom on the Underground Railroad. The cistern was preserved and incorporated into the design of the convention center's Vine Street lobby.

Read more: 

Dig at Stevens home yields treasures of history
Archaeologists defend theory Stevens aided slaves
LancasterHistory gets $150K in planning grants for Thaddeus Stevens-Lydia Hamilton Smith site

Excelsior Hall's catacombs

The low, vaulted catacombs were used to store beer when the building was the Sprenger Brewery. The 1,500-square-foot space was renovated as part of the building's conversion into an event venue a few years ago.

Read more: 

Lancaster city's long-vacant Excelsior Hall to be remade as upscale event space
Photos: See Lancaster County's latest award-winning historic renovations

Beer pipelines

During Prohibition, some breweries continued to operate illicitly, reportedly piping beer to distribution points through hidden pipelines and hoses wound through sewers.

In May 1931, Prohibition agents testified that beer from the Rieker's Brewery on West King Street was being pumped to a garage at Manor Avenue and New Dorwart Street. The following year, a hose was discovered leading to a warehouse at 112 N. Water St., now the address of Zoetropolis theater.

Read more:

(Editor's Note: The following links go to; access is included with a digital LancasterOnline subscription.)

Testify beer sent through pipeline to nearby garage [Intelligencer-Journal, May 19, 1931]

250 ft. of beer hose taken from sewers; 10 gambling warrants [New Era, March 21, 1932]

Prohibition: When beer flowed under city streets [Intelligencer-Journal, May 3, 1999]