Sutro Tunnel

The Sutro Tunnel was a drainage adit into the Comstock Load, which is located in Lyon County, Nevada. Following Silver discovers and in the Comstock Load, a rush of people came into Nevada. Production from the Comstock is hindered by water flooding the tunnels at depth.

The entrance to the Sutro Tunnel in the late 1800s. Suntro, Lyon County, Nevada.
The entrance to the Sutro Tunnel in the late 1800s. Suntro, Lyon County, Nevada.

In 1865, Sutro’s tunnel gained traction and had gained approval from the federal and state governments. The Sutro Tunnel Company is formed and started selling stock certificates to raise funds. Construction began in 1869 and connected to the Savage Mine on July 8th, 1878. On June 30th, 1879, the tunnel is connected all of the mines and the first water is released.

Adolph Sutro sold his interest in the company following the completion of the project, however he stayed on the board of the organization. Later, he moved to San Fransic The tunnel is 3.88 miles in length and runs from Dayton to Virginia City.

Nevada State Historic Marker Text

Sutro was a town, a tunnel and a man. The orderly town was headquarters for the Sutro drainage tunnel. Adolph Sutro, German born, came to the Comstock in 1860. He advocated a drainage tunnel, visualizing development of the Comstock resource by a system long used to drain and explore mineral deposits.

By 1865, his vision gained approval of state and federal legislation. However, the mining interests, having at first supported the tunnel, became strongly opposed.

When construction began in 1869, it was first financed by the mine workers, since the tunnel would improve mine safety. Later, the funding came from international bankers.

The main tunnel broke through in 1878. Lateral tunnels were extended and the project drained, ventilated and serviced the Comstock as planned. When the tunnel was proven, Adolph Sutro sold his interest in the tunnel company and returned to San Francisco. A “magnificent hole in the ground” remains.

Nevada State Historic Marker Summary

NameSutro Tunnel
LocationLyon County, Nevada
Nevada State Historic Marker85
Latitude, Longitude39.2744, -119.5645

Trail Map


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