The Sutro Tunnel is a drainage tunnel (adit) connected to the Comstock Lode in Northern Nevada. It begins at Virginia City, Nevada and empties approximately 6 miles southeast near the town of Dayton, Nevada.
The tunnel was proposed by Adolph Sutro in 1860. He promoted the drainage tunnel to allow access to deeper mineral exploration in the Comstock. Flooding and inadequate pumps had inhibited some exploration until that time.
By 1865, Sutro's idea had gained the approval of state and federal legislation. The mining interests of the Comstock initially supported the project, but later opposed the idea. They feared that an alternate access point to the Comstock minerals would threaten their monopoly on the mining and milling of gold and silver in the Comstock.
Nonetheless, Sutro formed the Sutro Tunnel Company, selling stock certificates to raise funds for its construction, which began in 1869. Financing also came from local miners motivated by the prospect of improved mine safety. This motivation was further advocated (perhaps exploited) by Sutro after the Yellowjacket mine disaster where dozens of miners were burned to death because they could not escape.
The main tunnel was completed in 1878. By then the Comstock mine had gone deeper, using improved pumps, and was also thinning out. Lateral tunnels were created to enhance drainage and ventilation. Upon completion, Adolph Sutro immediately sold his interest in the tunnel company and moved to San Francisco, later becoming mayor, building the Sutro Baths and a small Sutro Tunnel to them.
The Sutro Tunnel pioneered the excavation of large drainage and access tunnels in the US. Later US mine drainage tunnels included the Argo Tunnel at Idaho Springs, Colorado, the Leadville and Yak tunnels at Leadville, Colorado, and the Roosevelt tunnel in the Cripple Creek district, Colorado.
- "Nevada Historical Markers". Nevada State Historic Preservation Office. Archived from the original on 4 February 2013. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
- Smith, Grant Horace; Tingley, Joseph V. (July 21, 1998). The History of the Comstock Lode, 1850-1997. University of Nevada Press. pp. 107–115. ISBN 9781888035049.
- Rickard, Thomas Arthur (1992). Interviews with Mining Engineers. San Francisco: Mining and Scientific Press. p. 172. OCLC 2664362.
Arthur De Wint Foote.
- SAH Archipedia Building Entry
- A Guide to the Sutro Tunnel Company records, NC07. Special Collections, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Reno.
- Sutro, Adolph (1865). The Advantages and Necessity of a Deep Drain Tunnel for the Great Comstock Ledge. San Francisco, CA., Sutro's argument and proposal for the tunnel
Jedediah Strong Smith
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Tule Springs Archaeological Site