V&T commission won’t fund preservation of Yellow Jacket headframe | NevadaAppeal.com

V&T commission won’t fund preservation of Yellow Jacket headframe

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer

Virginia & Truckee Railway reconstruction officials know that the Yellow Jacket headframe – an historic mining structure next door to the Gold Hill Hotel – would be an attraction for tourists riding the reconstructed rail, but they’re not willing to foot the bill to prevent its collapse.

The headframe is located on property owned by the Sutro Tunnel Co., which is owned by Pete Leonard and developer John Serpa. Leonard asked the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway to help fund preservation of the headframe. The headframe is a structure at the entrance of an underground mine that houses the mechanism needed to raise and lower miners and ore.

“This is on Sutro Tunnel Co. land. Why are we involved?” asked Commissioner Ron Allen. “Really the bottom line is: What do we care about it?”

Allen said the headframe would be valuable historically with the reconstruction of the railway, but it’s the responsibility of the private land owner. He said the commission would set a precedent that it would cover the cost for aesthetic improvements along the V&T right-of-way.

Ken Dorr, engineer for phase one of the V&T project, said the work would involve initial structural and project engineering and structural modifications to the vertical ore cart track located within the shaft. The work would be dangerous and could cost more than $25,000. If it went above that, the commission would be required to put the project out to public bid.

The company also owns land where the Belcher mine shafts are located and “the knob,” south of the Gold Hill Depot is on two Sutro Tunnel parcels. The commission agreed to reimburse the company up to $5,000 to replace safety fencing around the Belcher main shaft and the Belcher air shaft.

Steel fencing around the two shafts was estimated to cost more than $20,000, Dorr said. The Comstock Historic Commission would have to approve the type of fencing used and it prefers decorative fencing. Similar weathering steel fencing – which resembles wrought iron – is being used atop the retaining wall of the Overman Pit fill.

But the commission voted to reject Leonard’s request for compensation for dirt removed from the knob. Leonard had donated easements across the parcels to the project. Excavators removed about 200,000 yards of material from the knob and used it to fill the Overman Pit.

Michael Rowe, legal counsel for the commission, said according to the deeds for the easements they have the rights to excavate as much land as needed to get across the land.

n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.