Dennis Cassinelli: Progress at Sutro Tunnel

The Sutro Tunnel.

The Sutro Tunnel.

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On May 6, a mixer was held at Sutro Tunnel to show interested people the progress that has been made in the efforts to restore the tunnel and possibly make the site a tourist attraction.
My son, John Cassinelli and I attended the event to see the progress that has been made since our last visit to the site. Chris Pattison, director for the Sutro Tunnel restoration efforts, invited about 35 interested people to the event.
Volunteers have contributed to the efforts to restore the tunnel and make it safe for visitors to enter. The portal of the tunnel is located north of Dayton and the area is locked and secured, except for special events.
Thus far, the tunnel has been cleared of rock and debris for about 50 feet into the tunnel from the entrance at the portal. This work will continue as contributions allow with the goal of clearing the entire tunnel to the Comstock and to make the Sutro Tunnel and the town of Sutro a tourist destination.
There is a large pond or reservoir that is created by water that continually drains from the Sutro Tunnel. Recently, the trees surrounding the reservoir have been pruned to where the water in the reservoir is easily visible from the tunnel portal area. The water in the pond was used to irrigate a small farm for the people who worked in the tunnel and adjacent buildings back in the old days. We were told the reservoir now has been stocked with koi.
John has been providing weed control at the site to prevent the chance of fires from spreading to the remaining structures at the townsite of Sutro. Unfortunately, the old Sutro mill was burned by vandals in the 1960s but I did visit the mill before it burned down when I was a student at UNR.
In the terrible winter of 1889, Cassinelli ancestors and other Dayton farmers and ranchers hauled food grown on Dayton Valley ranches through the tunnel and up the mine elevators to thankful residents of Virginia City, since the roads and railroads were closed and could not bring the food to Virginia City.
Dennis Cassinelli is a Dayton author and historian. You can order his books at a discount on his blog at


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