No, there isn’t a bright-eyed monster hiding out in the Indigo Tunnel, but these shiny orbs did have us worried for a minute or two. Fortunately, there is a simple explanation–the lights are from contractors working on the Indigo Tunnel Bat Gate Project. The Western Maryland Rail Trail is eventually going to be extended to Paw Paw, and the first phase is closing the Indigo Tunnel to human usage. The tunnel is reported to be Maryland’s largest bat hibernaculum, and it houses an endangered species.
Upon closer inspection, there is a newly-constructed steel grate just inside of the portal, and doors will be positioned in the blank space in order to keep out those pesky human intruders–with the exception of biologists. Bats are susceptible to a disease known as white-nose syndrome, and contact with people can be lethal. At one time, the rail trail was going to go through the tunnel, but upon it’s completion, it will have a short detour on the C&O Canal Towpath in order to bypass this man-made bat cave.