CMU Steam Tunnels Map

Combined and edited image version © 2013 Matt Joseph Original HyperCard map © 1988 Dennis Moul

What is this?

As a student at the University of Pittsburgh, one of the most intriguing aspects of campus history was always the concept of tunnels going every which-way beneath the feet of thousands of people, delivering steam (and perhaps other necessities) to buildings around campus. The Bellefield Boiler Plant, with steam visibly rising from its stacks on cold days, served the role of a partially hidden yet essential piece to the heating and cooling systems of the University of Pittsburgh, as well as Carnegie Mellon University.

While searching online for more information regarding the steam tunnels, and hoping all the while for some kind of map, I discovered a site that had a copy of an old USENET post from This post, from 1994, had a Binhexed HyperCard stack attached to it (Wikipedia links provided for those who, like I, are less familiar with these tools). This stack contained a rudimentary map of the CMU steam tunnels.

As I was working on a Windows machine, I used:

  • StuffIt Expander to decode the original file
  • LiveCode to load and convert the HyperCard stack to Windows, OS X, and PE executables

Knowing that an executable isn’t something most people want to download to view a map, I edited together the separate screens into one larger map. NOTE: The executable includes additional comments and text that I did NOT include in the screenshots or map! If you are interested, I have provided everything, including the executables, below.