ABOUT THE "BODY CHUTE"
The other name for this, the "Death Tunnel", is far more accurate. The term "chute" implies that they merely chucked bodies down and let them fall of their own accord. However, there is no way that would be possible- the stairs and platforms would slow the fall and even potentially create a stuck-body pileup! In reality, the bodies were moved down using a motorized track and gurney tables with specialized wheels.
This may seem a little odd to most, but realizing several facts about sanatorium life might clear up the sinister reputation the "Death Tunnel" has gotten. First of all, many people were dying daily. Through the years that Waverly Hills was open, over 60,000 people died there. For those tuberculosis patients desperately hoping that they themselves wouldn't die, it must have been both depressing and demoralizing to see their dead hospital mates near them and the hearses coming up front to collect bodies. Not to mention there were so many people who needed treatment that they had to clear beds as quickly as possible after a patient was released or died; remember, Waverly Hills was only built to accomodate 400 patients at a time! The fastest way to dispose of the bodies and the problem of the depressing hearses was to have the dead picked up at the bottom of the hill- and the easiest way to get them there was by the steam tunnel now known as the "Body Chute".
There were other uses for the tunnel, of course... It was a steam tunnel designed to keep the hospital warm in the days before central heating and air conditioning. In the middle of winter, it served as an excellent way for employees of the hospital to get up the hill. Since it was heated and underground, it was quick and practical for employees use the tunnel to get to work without freezing their knickers off. Also, cinders the Waverly Hills boiler room used to heat the steam tunnel helped pave some of the local roads.
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