TWIN FALLS | The new Twin Falls High School was so nice, the first batch of teachers from the 1950s decided they'd never leave. Even after their last class bell rang.
Over the decades, as students sat in classrooms, staff went about their business and teachers planned their lessons, these former teachers seemed to be at home below the school.
And even today, these ghosts of teachers past occasionally make their presence known by rattling pipes in little-known, dark, musty tunnels.
It's a legend that has been circulating for decades.
Bill Brulotte — who taught at Twin Falls High from 1988 to 1995— used to hear pipes rattle during the day. And at night, he’d hear a ping-ping-ping sound in a distinctive pattern coming from the radiator.
He asked his coworkers about it and they told him a story: The first group of teachers in the building never wanted to leave.
As the legend goes, the ghosts of teachers reside in the tunnels beneath the school and rattle the pipes — especially, on cold days.
Brulotte — now federal programs director for the Twin Falls School District — flipped through a yearbook from 1954 on Thursday pointing out black-and-white pictures of teachers.
“They fell in love with the building,” he said.
The tunnels supposedly serve as a meeting place for the ghosts, who gather to talk about their former students. “They have little reunions,” Brulotte said.
They’re friendly ghosts, he said, and imagines they’re reminiscing about the good old days and singing the school fight song.
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Twin Falls High’s original building was on Shoshone Street North near the county courthouse. Students attended classes there from 1912-1953.
By the 1950s, building issues arose and the third floor — which was used for music classes — was condemned, according to a document compiled by the school district about school history.
Jerome had opened a new high school, Brulotte said, and school officials in Twin Falls couldn’t let their neighbors on the other side of the Perrine Bridge win.
A new Jerome High School building — which is now the school district's administration office — opened in 1949 on Fourth Avenue West.
In Twin Falls, a group of teachers worked to get community approval to fund a new building. And legend says they're now residing in the school as ghosts.
Twin Falls High’s campus opened on a 40-acre site on Filer Avenue East and cost $250,000 to build. It housed sophomores through seniors, with the first graduating class in 1954.
When the building opened, it was considered far removed in Twin Falls, Brulotte said, and a long way from downtown.
Over the decades, additions were made — including a cafeteria and extended E hallway of classrooms by 1958.
But one thing has remained: a maze of underground tunnels that allows maintenance crews to access water and steam heating lines.
The largest tunnel is about 7 feet tall and runs the length of the main hallway. Thursday, Brulotte unlocked a plain wooden door that looks like a janitor’s closet or meeting room.
A set of concrete stairs leads down into the tunnel. “Be careful,” Brulotte said. “There are very narrow stairs.”
Off the main tunnel, smaller tunnels connect up with it and lead to a boiler room. School custodians come down monthly to make sure there aren’t any pipe leaks.
Many students don’t know there are tunnels underneath the school, Brulotte said.
A musty scent lingers in the warm air. The thumping of students’ feet can be heard coming from upstairs.
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When Tracy Barnes started working as a custodian at Twin Falls High, his coworkers told him to watch out for ghosts.
“I thought it was a big joke and they were just teasing me,” he said.
But that changed a decade ago. Barnes — who’s now head custodian — was locking up the school after a speech and debate tournament ended at 2 a.m.
He heard a door shut and two footsteps. He went to see if a coworker needed something, but nobody was there.
“I didn’t like to work late at night after that,” Barnes said.
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After decades of rattling pipes, the future looks uncertain for the ghosts.
Twin Falls High is undergoing a $7.6 million facelift, which includes a new heating/air conditioning system. Renovations are slated for completion by next summer.
The money is from a nearly $74 million bond voters approved in March 2014.
The new HVAC system will have rooftop units. And that means getting rid of the old boiler system — and some pipes — down in the tunnels.
So what will the ghosts rattle next? Just wait and see.