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New Ulm's 'Underground City'

By District Energy posted 01-27-2019 00:00


Elroy Ulb, The Journal


New Ulm’s ‘underground city’/tunnels were commonly known as the ‘steam tunnels’ because the steam lines were placed inside the existing tunnels under the sidewalks of Minnesota Street. The tunnels, however, were not built for the steam lines. The tunnels were built long before the steam lines came into being. New Ulm’s ‘underground city’/tunnels were located under the sidewalks of Minnesota Street from approximately 4th North to 1st South.

In 1924, an informational circular was issued by the City regarding “Facts and Figures Regarding the New Ulm Heating System.” The circular said in part: “The New Ulm Heating System has been in operation since 1916. It was created for the purpose of utilizing the exhaust steam supply of the Municipal Lighting Plant in the heating of the business district of the city, the money required for its construction being furnished entirely by New Ulm business men . . . It was never intended that the system should be extended to cover any large areas . . .”

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