Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

My husband and I have always wanted to buy an industrial building and turn it into living space. That is just the kind of people we are—stupid people. We almost bought a hospital once and at a different time a school, but passed on both for various reasons--so the search continues. Recently my husband saw an ad for a railroad tunnel for sale. Part of the ad read: For sale: one gently used railroad tunnel, natural air conditioning, excellent storage possibilities. My husband was all over it.

“Let’s buy it!”
“We could turn it into a house.”
“It would be fun; it could be our grand adventure.”
“I am too young to die.”

It turns out the tunnel is a half mile long, twenty-one feet high and runs through the center of a mountain. It comes with fifty-four acres of commercial property and even on hot summer days stays an even fifty-one degrees temperature.

“Well I need light if I am going to live in a cave.”
“It isn’t a cave, it is a tunnel and we can get some lamps.”
“No, I mean sunlight, I am not a mole.”
“Each of the tunnel ends can be made into big glass windows.”
“Yeah but what about the center, it would be like, dark. Couldn’t we put in some windows on the side?”
“It is in the center of a mountain, how do you propose I carve windows out of the mountainside?”

A Coeur d'Alene real estate company is marketing the property for a man named Don Parker, owner of the tunnel. Mr. Parker points out its potential for enterprises that thrive in cool, dark places, like commercial mushroom production or wine storage. Parker said he's confident that the tunnel could again be part of a viable commercial venture.

“Well if you didn’t want to live there we could turn it into a business.”
“You don’t know how to drive a train.”
“I don’t mean that. I mean something unique.”
“Like what?”
“I know, how about . . . a restaurant.”
“A restaurant?”
“Yeah, and we could get a spotlight and a train whistle, then when everyone is eating we could turn on the spot light and blow on the whistle and pretend a train is coming.”
“We would be the only restaurant around that has to have a doctor on-call for when our customers go into cardiac arrest.”
“Ok, well how about the world’s largest dark room?”
“Most people use digital cameras now.”
“We could harvest bat guano. I have heard of people doing that.”
“You have not heard of people doing that. Nobody does that! What would we do ‘that’ for? I do not want to harvest bat guano. One bat in the tunnel is a deal-breaker for me.”
“Ok fine. I know--how about the world’s biggest smoker? We just herd the cows in and light it up. Voila, 2 tons of beef jerky.”
“Oh yeah? Who is going in afterward and scooping up ½ a mile of meat?”
“I don’t know. Why do I have to think of everything?”

The newspaper article continued with: "I believe that it's the most unusual property that we've dealt with," said Thomas Tagen, the listing agent with Tomlinson North Idaho Sotheby's International Realty. No kidding.

“How about this idea--we could raise veal.”
“I thought you didn’t like sheep?”
“Veal is baby cows, not sheep.”
“The calves are born and then are put in a box so they don’t move around much. They get fed all the time and kept in the dark for a few weeks, all the while getting juicy and tender, and then they go to slaughter.”
“Oh my gosh! That is terrible. Is that true?”
“The poor little cows; I don’t think I could be a veal farmer.”
“Ok, how about we open a daycare.”
“A daycare?!! I just said I don’t want to torture cows, but you think torturing kids would be ok?”
“A daycare would not be torture, it would be a big open space for them to run.”
“Yeah, like run away.”
“When the parents drop them off we could just lock ‘em in. They would be glad to see their mom’s and dad’s at the end of the day. The tricky part would be getting them to come back . . . .”
“I think it would be cruel to keep them in the dark all day and send them home for dinner and then off to bed . . . in the dark.”

The article went on to quote the Real Estate agent Tagen, who said, “The tunnel itself has deep psychological meaning, that's why you see so many films with tunnels." Tagen then said. "There's an element of mystery and intrigue." That’s us, mysterious and intriguing; all our friends say so, only they call it weird and scary.

“Ok, how about this for a business idea--a beauty parlor? You wouldn’t even have to be good at it. It isn’t like they could see themselves in the mirror.”
“I am still sad about the veal.”
“Alright, no more talk about the veal. Think happy thoughts. How about we make the tunnel into a bar?”
“A bar?!”
“Why do you keep repeating everything I say?”
“I thought if you heard it repeated back to you, it might give you some idea of what it sounds like to a normal person.”
“Anyway, about the bar . . . We serve drinks in the center of the tunnel. That way, by the time everyone walks back to their car they are sober. It would cut down on drunk driving. We would be doing a community service.”
“This conversation is making me want to drink.”
“Well, how about this idea—a church!”
“I am just gonna come right out and say it: you have lost your mind.”
“Hear me out. We could re-use the spotlight and train whistle idea—that would be sure to get people down on their knees. Plus, if we close off each end of the tunnel the congregants are stuck there for the whole sermon!”
“Well, I certainly know who I will be praying for.”
“Ok this is the last idea I have, how about the world’s largest strip mall? We hand out flash-lights at the door with low-batteries and put a Radio Shack in the center—with batteries always on sale! I am telling you, I smell money!”
“I smell smoke that is for certain. Listen, if you really want this tunnel thing, we can get it. I’m not really “on board” with any of your business ideas, but maybe it could be a summer home that only you visit, or maybe the world’s largest man cave. If we do buy it though, can we get one of those vintage handcar thingies like they have in cartoons? I always wanted to try one.”

Hurry and act now, this train tunnel won’t last long. This is a limited time offer and it can be yours for the low, low price of $650,000!--unless of course, we get it first.


  1. Okay, that is fantastic. I could be a mole. I think I could do that, especially in the summer.

  2. Is there a link to this listing? That is too crazy! What will they sell next, a bridge?