This stone carving of a French officer has been hidden in complete darkness for a hundred years under a rural farm field in northern France in a former WWI underground city. The underground city began as a vast stone quarry mined hundreds of years before WWI for limestone blocks to build castles, cathedrals, fortresses and homes. It’s over one hundred acres underground and takes hours to see. When WWI came along armies on both sides converted the space to a modern underground city installing railways, electrical power stations, telephone networks, housing, offices, work stations, a large kitchen and a ventilation system. One can find a porcelain light bulb socket attached to the stone ceiling that looks exactly like today. There are barbed wire barricades at former exits to the surface that are like underground no-man’s land. The space was occupied continuously throughout WWI but changed hands from French to German to French. There is evidence of underground combat. In 1918, the French transferred control of the underground city to American troops. Each army left their marks with hundreds of soldier’s handwritten inscriptions, messages to the future, names and home addresses. And the space is like an art museum in total darkness with many beautiful sculptures and drawings.
Photo by Jeff Gusky