Sutro portal open to tour for a day

SUTRO -- The curious will get a chance to step through a portal into the past today.

Typically, visitors to Sutro Tunnel are greeted by a no trespassing sign, but from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today, for the price of a ticket they will be welcome.

Those who wish to visit the tunnel should meet in the parking lot of the Smith's in Dayton along Highway 50.

The Fourth Ward School and the Sutro Tunnel Co., will conduct tours of the newly restored portal to the tunnel, which was designed to pump water from Virginia City's deepest mines.

"Sutro Revisited" is a benefit for Virginia City's Fourth Ward School and will feature guided tours by local historians of the now privately owned grounds and buildings of Sutro. Visitors will also be treated to a box lunch, a slide show, music and a portrayal of Adolph Sutro, the man whose dream was to connect the riches of Virginia City with mills in the Dayton Valley below.

About 350 gallons of water flow through the tunnel every minute of every day, and after an earthquake in the 1990s the tunnel caved in, blocking the flume that carries water from the tunnel to the Sutro Reservoir.

Western Mine Development has been working since March to drain the flume and replace the timber sets.

A representative of the project said all the timber sets are up and the tunnel is more than half way complete.

It cost $22,000 just to repair the portal and muck out the first 40 feet into the tunnel, Leonard said.

Keith Kiechler and Randall Franklin, of Keystone Masonry, were working to repair the brick on the portal Friday.

According to Comstock historian Chic Di Francia, Sutro conceived the idea for a tunnel to Virginia City when he arrived in 1860 as a way to ventilate the deep mines of the Comstock. It was to be used to drain water, and to transport ore to the mills along the Carson River.


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