Is it possible that the diary of the man behind one of this nation’s most notorious assassinations is buried in a hidden tunnel underneath Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn? Robert Diamond thinks so.

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It started with a historical novel. In December 1979, Bob Diamond was an engineering student at Pratt Institute when he heard a radio show about The Cosgrove Report by G.J.A O’Toole. The program discussed a section of the novel that involved the missing 18 pages of John Wilkes Booth’s diary hidden behind a false stone block in a metal box, next to an old steam train lying on its side in a tunnel that was supposedly underneath Brooklyn’s Atlantic Avenue. A Brooklyn native, Diamond was immediately intrigued. Diamond even called up the author and inquired about the tunnel. “O’Toole said he got the idea for the tunnel from a newspaper article he read when he was a kid about Murder Incorporated burying dead bodies down there. He told me to see if I could find it.” So Diamond did just that.

The quest to find the tunnel wasn’t easy. First, nobody believed it was there: Countless times Diamond was told by various city officials that it didn’t exist. But he researched old newspaper archives and found articles about the tunnel, and finally, in 1980, he discovered the plans for the tunnel in the Brooklyn borough president’s office. In 1981, he persuaded the folks at Brooklyn Union Gas (now National Grid) to let him check underneath a manhole at the busy intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Court Street, which was where he believed the tunnel’s entrance to be. It was the moment that changed Diamond’s life forever: He had found the world’s oldest subway tunnel.