Many people know the Papago Park Military Reservation's history as a prisoner of war camp, but is it possible that it now houses a secret Dr. Evil-style lair?
During World War II, the military facility served as a POW camp mostly for German sailors captured from U-boats. By many accounts, life at the POW camp was far from terrible, but that didn't stop German prisoners from building a secret tunnel all the way to a nearby canal to plot an escape. The facts about the tunnel get hazy: Four months of digging under bathhouses, fences, and a patrol road ended in a tunnel somewhere between 125 to 400 feet long. Some say the tunnel even went under the canal. During a Christmas celebration in 1944, the prisoners used the noise of the party to plan their escape. Sources say as many as 25 men escaped — some captured, some assimilating into the local population uncaught, and some knocking on the doors of citizens in Tempe and south Scottsdale asking to be sent back to the POW camp (Arizona does get chilly in the winter, you know).
The Army got a call from local law enforcement officials who suspected prisoners may be on the loose. The Army, embarrassed that it didn't even know prisoners had escaped — let alone had been digging an escape route for months — used the story of the tunnel to do some hind covering. The Army supposedly masked its snafu by claiming it had built the tunnel, not the prisoners: A whole underground system (built by the U.S. for the U.S.) that just happened to be discovered by German prisoners and used to escape the camp.
Maybe the U.S. Army really did build those tunnels, or maybe the German prisoners started that underground tunnel and the Army later built it into a super-secret spy center, or maybe it really was nothing more than a prisoner-built escape tunnel. At the very least, we know that there were some underground shenanigans happening at Papago Park in the 1940s. The last piece of the POW camp was destroyed in 2005, and the camp is now home to the Arizona National Guard (and possibly that secret lair).