When TikTok explorer Carter Booth found a secret tunnel underneath a tea store in Leavenworth, Kansas, 3.8 million people took notice.
Booth is an urban explorer. Urban exploration, or urbexing, involves exploring abandoned ruins or hidden components of a manmade environment. It can be dangerous and can sometimes involve illegally trespassing on private property.
The network of tunnels underneath Leavenworth was built more than 200 years ago and allegedly involves the Freemasons. That caught his attention. He is determined to find them. “I’ve always loved to be places where I’m not supposed to be.” he told TikTok Newser.
A painter in high school, the 19-year-old roof inspector and day trader wanted to become an artist, but instead found his calling as a real life explorer. He finds secret tunnels, picks locks, and explores an abandoned WWII bunker.
He first started TikTok in January 2020 when his friends convinced him to join the platform by showing him a funny video. A girl he knew had a lot of views on one of her videos. He wanted to beat her. He tried making TikToks to popular sounds and none of his videos went viral. But he didn’t give up.
His inspiration for his videos goes back to the summer of 2019 when Booth led a group of six people through various European cities including Paris, Amsterdam, and London. He discovered, for example, that train doors closed whether or not his entire group had gotten off the train. In Amsterdam, half of his group got out, and the other half didn’t. It took 45 minutes for the lost group to get to the next station, buy tickets from a convenience store on the platform, and get back.
During Booth’s trip to Paris, he wanted to see the Paris catacombs. He didn’t make it. He was bummed. While working at a Mexican restaurant back in the U.S., he scrolled through YouTube finding videos of people discovering underground tunnels. He asked his friends: “Is there anything like that here?” They confirmed that there was, and so began Booth’s search for Leavenworth’s lost tunnels, and his TikTok fame.
Booth has plans to create a following on TikTok for urban exploring, and expand into YouTube, where he has already created a channel for his adventures. His future plans for content include longer adventure videos, a trip to Japan during the summer of 2021, and more videos centered around adventure, travel, and exploration.
With more than 206,600 followers, he says his dad doesn’t really get TikTok. But his mom does. “My mom thinks it’s crazy. My mom knows all about it. She watches every video, she’s on every livestream.” Booth said.
Booth’s favorite musical artist is Colter Wall and his favorite TV show is Outer Banks. His favorite TikToker is smithereens. The lowest cell phone charge Booth will let his phone get is dead. “It dies all the time, especially when I’m filming.” he said. “I’m not responsible!” he joked.
“It’s not an overnight success. I know it appears that way, because like, you have one video that blows up and yeah, I guess you become famous overnight, but it’s a lot of work.” he said. He spent six months making videos before his first blew up. “So just don’t give up on making them and eventually something will happen.”
His advice for aspiring explorers? “Don’t get caught.” he said. “It’s not legal.”