The Secret “Indian Raid Tunnel”
A detailed engineering study was conducted on The Luke Miller
House, including the secret “Indian Raid Tunnel” and its entrances
during 1936. The study was performed by architects and draftsmen
working for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), which
was one of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs run during the
Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) through
the US Parks Department of the US Department of the Interior.
Thirteen drawings were made of the Miller house and its historical
features, and most of these drawings show the location and exact size
of the “Secret Tunnel To Forge” and its entrances in great detail. You can
see all of the HABS images and documents in the Historical
Documents link on this site). On the 13th drawing, which is an
architectural survey of the blacksmith forge, the “secret tunnel” is
specifically described as the “Indian Raid Tunnel.” The “Indian Raid
Tunnel” is also noted as “the interesting feature of the property” on the
HABS bibliography pages.
Some people wonder why an Indian Raid Tunnel would be built in an
area where the local native Americans were friendly. Perhaps it was
because Luke Miller fought local Iroquois Indians during the Battle at
Minisink Ford on the Delaware River in July 1779, which began after
the burning and destruction of colonial settlements there, reminiscent
of Jamestown. Fifty militiamen lost their lives in the battle, which sent
shockwaves of loss and grief throughout the frontier population.
Having witnessed the savage destruction and brutality of “friendly”
local Indians firsthand in combat against the Colonists, it is highly
plausible that Luke Miller (of a relatively prosperous, landowning
family) had the tunnel built as a secret escape route in the event the
house was surrounded, attacked, and burned by Indians or the British.
Others believe that the tunnel connecting the house and forge
60 feet underground may have also served as a cistern for fresh water,
or as a secret hiding place within a station (ie, Miller’s Station) on the
Underground Railroad during the 19th century. Evidence of all these
possibilities may be unearthed if additional grant money can be
obtained to conduct further excavation and study of the tunnel and
Information on the tunnel research is available through the In The
News link on this site. You can also click here to read a newspaper
article that documents the initial archaeological dig activity in February,
2008 to uncover and reopen the forge-side entrance to the secret tunnel.