Orphan's Secret History on Sullivant's Hill (The Hilltop):

One hundred and forty-one years ago (1878), the United States was the only nation producing light bulbs, safety elevators, ventilation fans, telephones, advanced electrical systems, the majority of the planet’s locomotives, plus thousands of other independent inventions.

America’s Secret Service realized that a combination of these new technologies suddenly allowed underground facilities to operate as functionally as visible buildings.

​​America's ​Secretary of War, Alexander Ramsey, and the Secret Service commander referred to as a Mr. X, explained to President Rutherford B. Hayes, “Our nation's wonderful freedoms and rights have created a ruthless group of industrial dictators, who pay attorneys to bribe governing officials, and hoodlums to eliminate anything else in their way."

"What we need is a truly secret branch of the Secret Service, operating as something benign, so real secret agents can infiltrate these tyrants, and foil their evil intentions before they strike.”

​​President Hayes agreed.

​​Since the Secret Service already ran public offices in Washington, the nation’s four largest eastern cities, and a sixth in San Francisco, they decided to build this underground facility near the center of America’s huge new web of railroads. This way they could dispatch undercover agents around the nation, as rapidly as possible.

​​Hayes had Washington University’s Mathematics Department study this. They determined that Central Ohio was the center of the nation’s railroads. They explained, “Only from Columbus, 15 of the Nation’s 17 largest cities could be reached in a day or less.”

​​​Hayes was also born and raised in Central Ohio. During the Civil War, he became a Union General and served time commanding Camp Chase, a Union Army base on top of Sullivant’s Hill (now Columbus’s Hilltop). After the war, he became Ohio’s 29th governor, which he also served in Columbus, so he knew Central Ohio very well.

​​During the war, he was informed that one of the two mines that were used to provide white limestone for Ohio’s Statehouse (when it first began construction in the 1830s) was nearly 100 feet below the top of Sullivant’s Hill,  right beside (just west of ) Camp Chase. 

​​​Limestone is typically strip-mined (cut from the surface), as mining large materials underground requires immensely more labor. However, back then Ohio's prisons had thousands of criminals sentenced to hard labor,  so the state had all the free labor it needed.

 

After harvesting thousands of tons by 1839, the bright white stone began darkening, so Ohio’s Governor Shannon ordered the mine closed, and its shafts sealed up and buried.

​​​By 1878 this nearly forgotten mine sat below the remains of a burned down chicken farm, which had opened in 1861 to provide Camp Chase with a thousand chickens each week.

​​​​The site was perfect.

​Eighty to ninety-two feet below the top of Sullivant’s Hill were four 18 foot wide passages, spidering out through solid stone. ​​Each passage already had twelve-foot ceilings and a perfectly level floor, so over 90% of the excavation was already completed.  Being under the top of a hill kept these passages dry.

​Two passages snaked to the north, about a quarter-mile beyond the National Trail (today's West Broad Street) before running out of bright white stone. Two other veins snaked westerly, for about a half mile before they also stopped providing the valuable bright white stuff.

​​​Due to an embarrassing mishap with a lunatic recruit during the war, which burnt this farm to the ground, the federal government bought the property, and they still owned it.

Its southeast border was already a railroad, and the site had far more land than they needed to build a locomotive barn above the mine.  

​​

​By the end of 1879, the Secret Service had almost every written reference or map showing this mine erased, rewritten or ah, burned up. 

​​However, Hayes' biggest remaining problem was explaining why the government needed a private train station a couple of miles away from anything else.

Two years later (March 1881), just several weeks after President James A. Garfield (also from Ohio, and another general who served at Camp Chase), replaced Hayes as president, he appointed Hayes as director of this new federal service:

The National Orphan Child Relief Agency

​​Garfield claimed this agency was to provide emergency care for America’s poor orphan babies, after suffering serious injuries, many while working in the nation's danger-filled factories.

​​Hayes’s first assignment was, “Build the ‘National Hospital for Orphan Children’, at some central location, where we can retrieve these poor parentless babies by train, as rapidly as possible.”

​​

Hayes already knew the perfect site, a burned-down chicken farm, about six miles west of Ohio’s still bright white limestone statehouse.

​​Because passenger trains were greatly slowed down by stopping at most train stations, Hayes and Garfield decided that their orphan hospital needed a small fleet of swift little trains so they could bypass the stations. They called them, “Orphan Ambulances.”

This way,” Hayes told a reporter, “we will be able to save far more of these poor baby’s lives simply because we will be able to rescue them faster.”

​​Just two months after the site was finally cleared in 1881, a 40,000 square foot tin sided barn (the Orphan Ambulance Garage), was already standing beside the tracks. This was rapidly erected so the massive shipments of equipment, materials, workers, and engineers, building the underground facility, could come and go through this building, without being seen (outside). 

​Ten months later the dinky (just 10,000 square foot) National Orphan Hospital opened about 150 feet north of the train garage.

​​​​As Thomas Edison's engineers were secretly installing this command center's steam-powered Direct Current (D/C) electrical system, he introduced Hayes to an amazingly crafty young engineer, at his Manhattan headquarters.

​The guy's name was Nicola Tesla.

While Edison left the room to break up a fight between several of his engineers, Hayes asked Tesla for his thoughts about developing railroad ambulances that could maximize rail speed.

​The young genius over-flowed with ideas, plus a powerful desire to build the fastest machines on earth. ​​That night he began sketching ideas for Hayes.

Several days later he showed his first sketches to Edison. 

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 craig@uppercolumbus.com

 Sullivant's Hill™   Orphan™

Press Release 12/16/19