Overview

Title: Sutro Tunnel Company Records
Creator(s): Sutro Tunnel Company.
Collection Number: NC07
Dates (inclusive): 1861-1935
Physical Extent: 1.5 cubic feet (3 boxes)
Preferred Citation: Sutro Tunnel Company records, NC07. Special Collections, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Reno.
Repository: University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department
Permanent Link: http://dewey.library.unr.edu/xtf/view?docId=ead/NC07-ead.xml

Administrative History

The Sutro Tunnel Company was organized by Adolph Sutro for the purpose of constructing a drainage tunnel under the Comstock Lode in Virginia City, Nevada. Sutro's initial associates in this enterprise were William M. Stewart, D.E. Avery, Louis Janin, Jr., and H.K. Mitchell. On February 4, 1865 the Nevada legislature granted the company an exclusive franchise to construct a drainage tunnel beginning in the foothills of the Carson River Valley in Lyon County, and terminating in the Comstock Lode of Virginia City. The Sutro Tunnel Company was also given a charter to sink mining shafts along the line as long as they did not infringe upon the rights of miners with previous claims.

The U. S. Congress granted the Sutro Tunnel Company an exclusive charter on July 25, 1866. The charter gave Sutro the right to purchase public land at $1.25 per acre to use for construction of the tunnel, and $5.00 per acre for land within 2,000 feet of the tunnel which contained mineral veins and lodes. It also specified that all persons, companies or corporations owning claims benefitted by the tunnel would be required to contribute to the costs of its operation.

Sutro encountered considerable difficulty in raising the capital necessary for construction. The sale of stock in the Sutro Tunnel Company enabled construction to begin in 1869 but he was eventually forced to turn to England where, beginning in 1872, he obtained major financing from the banking house of McCalmont Brothers and Company. The tunnel connected with the Savage Mine in 1878. Contracts which helped pay for lateral tunnels were signed with twenty-four mining companies in April of the following year. Two months later the tunnel project was completed, and by 1880, Sutro had sold his stock in the company.

The tunnel was in use for fifty years and was a success as a means of draining hot water from the mines. Financially it was a loss, as stock became worthless with the decline of Comstock Lode. Portions of the tunnel are still intact today.

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Scope and Content

As noted in the book, Adolph Sutro, A Biography by Robert E. Stewart, Jr. and M.F. Stewart (Howell-North, 1962), Adolph Sutro saved everything connected with his business and personal life. The Stewarts note the locations of the larger collections of Sutro papers and mention the scattering of a great deal of other material. The collection of Sutro papers held by the Special Collections Department is one such scattering.

These records document in part, the organizing, publicizing, funding, and construction of the Sutro Tunnel. The earliest items in the collection are a deed (1861) for the Silver Lode mining claim which Sutro purchased from Stillman and Katherine Wilson, and a copy of the Nevada Legislature's 1865 act granting Sutro a franchise to construct a mining and drainage tunnel. Articles of agreement illustrate how Sutro funded construction of the project and negotiated with Comstock Lode mining companies for tunnel use fees. These documents form Series 1, Legal Documents.

Series 2 consists of correspondence, the bulk of which is from the secretary of the Sutro Tunnel Company to Adolph Sutro, reporting on progress of the tunnel and various business matters. There is also some miscellaneous correspondence and a letterpress copy book of requisitions.

Series 3, Reports, contains several significant documents, particularly a manuscript report on the cost of running branch tunnels [from the main Sutro Tunnel], 1866; and a draft report (perhaps in Sutro's hand) of the House Committee on Mines and Mining on the Sutro Tunnel, 1868. Two letterpress copy books offer a daily record of underground work between 1881-1883, and superintendent's reports from 1885-1886.

Many of the printed reports which remain with the manuscript collection illustrate Sutro's use of the print media to persuade Congress and the public to support his project. These and assorted clippings form Series 5, Printed Materials. A considerable number of printed reports have been previously placed in the book stacks of the Special Collections Department; see Appendix A for a listing of related Sutro printed materials.

This collection also contains photographs and lithographs depicting the Sutro Tunnel and its construction. Those images have been transferred to the Department's photographic archives and are numbered P88-30.

Restrictions

Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The records of the Sutro Tunnel Company were acquired by the Special Collections Department over a period of years, beginning with a gift from Robert B. Griffith in 1964, and continuing with purchases from a number of book dealers and a Butterfield and Butterfield auction in June 1993.

Separated Materials

Photograph and lithographs depiction the Sutro Tunnel and its construction have been transferred to the Special Collections Photo Archive as collection number UNRS-P1988-30.

Related Materials

Sutro Tunnel Printed Materials in the Special Collections Department Book Stacks

Aron, Joseph. History of a Great Work (Proceeded by a Letter to the Union Trust Co. of New York) and of an Honest Miner. Paris: E. Regnault, printer, 1892. TN413.N3 A76

Banks, Nathan P. Speeches of the Hon. Nath. P. Banks... on the Sutro Tunnel, Delivered in the House of Representatives of the United States of America, February 13 and 21, 1873. Washington: McGill and Witherow, 1873. TN413.N3 A5 1873

Black, Jeremiah Sullivan. The California Bank Ring Against the Sutro Tunnel. Washington: 1874. TN413.N3 B5

Comstock Tunnel Company. The Comstock Tunnel Company to Union Trust Company of New York. Mortgage. Sept. 1, 1889. New York: Evening Post, 1889. HD9536.U54 C6

Hillyer, Curtis J. Argument for Comstock Mining Companies [against Senate Bill no. 16 granting certain rights, privileges and franchises to the Sutro Tunnel Company]. Washington?: 1874. TN413.N3 H5

Nevada. Legislature. Joint Memorial and Resolutions of the Nevada Legislature, Asking Government Aid in the Construction of the Sutro Tunnel. San Francisco: Towne & Bacon, 1867. TN413.N3 Z7 1867

Nye, James Warren. Speech of Hon. James W. Nye, of Nevada, on the Sutro Tunnel; Delivered in the Senate of the United States, January 20, 1871. Washington: F. & J. Rives & Geo. A. Bailey, 1871. TN413.N3 N9

---La Question de Demain. Revue Mensuelle du Progres. "Important Notice to the Stockholders of the Comstock Tunnel Company." No. 3 [April 5, 1894]. American Edition. [Listed in card catalog as no. 1, February 1894.] TN413.N3 Q4

Sunderland, Thomas. The Sutro Tunnel Co. What Congress Has Given it and What More it Asks Congress to Give it. Hear Both Sides. Washington: Judd and Detweiler, 1871. TN413.N3 Z7 1871

Sutro, Adolph. The Advantages and Necessity of a Deep Drain Tunnel, for the Great Comstock Ledge. San Francisco: 1865. Also, Substitute for H.R. 1173. As Agreed on by the Committee on Mines and Mining. A Bill to Aid in the Construction of the Sutro Tunnel from the Proceeds of the Sale of Mineral Lands. 1866. TN413.N3 S88

Sutro, Adolph. The Bank of California against the Sutro Tunnel. Argument and Statement of Facts, Showing Why the Amendments to Senate Bill 16,...Should be Concurred in by the Senate. Washington: M'Gill Witherow, 1874. TN413.N3 S89

Sutro, Adolph. The Bank of California Versus the Sutro Tunnel. Also, "Extract from a Speech of Adolph Sutro to the Miners of Nevada on the Sutro Tunnel and Bank of California." March 17, 1870. TN413.N3 S9

Sutro, Adolph. The California Monopolists Against the Sutro Tunnel. $200,000 Raised for Corrupt Purposes. March 19, 1874. TN413.N3 S92

Sutro, Adolph. Closing Argument of Adolph Sutro, on the Bill Before Congress to Aid the Sutro Tunnel, Delivered before the Committee on Mines and Mining of the House of Representatives of the United States of America, Monday, April 22, 1872. Washington: McGill and Witherow, 1872. TN413.N3 Z7 1872c

Sutro, Adolph. The Mineral Resources of the United States, and the Importance and Necessity of Inaugurating a National System of Mining, with Special Reference to the Comstock Lode and the Sutro Tunnel, in Nevada. Baltimore: John Murphy and Co., 1868. TN413.N3 S95

Sutro, Adolph. The Sutro Tunnel. An Address Before the Bullion Club, November 6, 1879. New York: Atkin and Prout, 1879. TN413.N3 S96

Sutro, Adolph. The Sutro Tunnel and Railway to the Comstock Lode in the State of Nevada. Importance of Its Construction and Revenue to be Derived Therefrom. London: Edward Stanford, 1873. TN413.N3 S97

Sutro, Adolph. The Sutro Tunnel to the Comstock Lode in the State of Nevada. Importance of its Construction, and Revenue to be Derived Therefrom. New York: John A. Gray and Green, 1866. TN413.N3 S98

Sutro, Adolph. Why Does the Bank of California Oppose the Sutro Tunnel? The Mystery Explained. Washington: M'Gill & Witherow, 1873. TN413.N3 S9752 1873

Sutro Tunnel Company. Agreements of March 29, 1879 Between the Sutro Tunnel Company and Twenty-four Comstock Mining Companies. San Francisco: Bacon and Company, Printers, 1879. TN413.N3 A3 1879

Sutro Tunnel Company. Annual Report of the Sutro Tunnel Company. San Francisco: Women's Co-Operative Printing Office, 1881. TN413.N3 A31 1880/81

Sutro Tunnel Company. The Answer of the Sutro Tunnel Company to the Complaint of Divers Companies Working Mines on the Comstock Lode; to Which is Attached a Copy of the Complaint, Exhibits, and an Appendix. Washington City: McGill and Witherow, Printers, 1876. TN413.N3 A3 1876

Sutro Tunnel Company. Report of the Superintendent of the Sutro Tunnel Company for the Three Months Preceding March 1, 1872. Washington: McGill & Witherow, 1872. TN413.N3 A123 1872

Sutro Tunnel Company. The Sutro Tunnel in Congress. [San Francisco: 1870?]. TN413.N3 Z7 1870

U.S. General Land Office. The Comstock Companies Defy the Execution of a Law of Congress. Extracts from the records on file in the General Land Office, certified to by the Commissioner. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1874. TN413.N3 U5

U.S. Sutro Tunnel Commission. Report of the Commissioners and Evidence Taken by the Committee on Mines and Mining of the House of Representatives of the United States, in Regard to the Sutro Tunnel, Together with the Arguments, etc. Washington: Government printing office, 1872. TN413.N3 Z7 1872

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Arrangement

  • The records of the Sutro Tunnel Company are arranged into the following series:
  • Series 1: Legal Documents
  • Series 2: Correspondence
  • Series 3: Reports
  • Series 4: Financial Records
  • Series 5: Printed Materials and Miscellaneous
  • Series 6: Photographs and Lithographs

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Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the online catalog of the University Libraries, University of Nevada, Reno. Researchers wishing to find related materials are encouraged to use the following index terms:

Organizations:

People:

Subjects:

Geographic Locations:



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Administrative Information

Collection processed by Susan Searcy, October 1993. Finding aid prepared by Susan Searcy, October 1993. This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on July 25, 2016.

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Detailed Description of the Records

Series 1: Legal Documents, 1861-1923 (10 folders)

Series 1 consists of agreements, deeds, leases, text of a legislative act, and transcript of a hearing in the General Land Office in Carson City, Nevada. They are arranged by type of document and are in rough chronological order.

box
folder
Contents
1/S1
1
Deeds (2): Sale of Silver Lode by Stillman and Katherine Wilson to Adolph Sutro (January 22); letter from Samuel D. Young to Sutro about the Silver Lode Claim (January 3), January 1861
1/S1
2
"An Act Granting the Right of Way and Authorizing A. Sutro, and his Associates, to Construct a Mining and Draining Tunnel," Nevada State Assembly and Senate, February 4, 1865
folder
Contents
3
Certificates (3): Agreement, Sutro Tunnel Company and _____ Mining Company to pay Sutro fees for draining water from the Comstock mines; 2 certificates are blank, one contains the name of the Mexican Mining Company, April 26, 1897
box
folder
Contents
1/S1
4
Articles of agreement, 1873
1/S1
5
Draft of memorandum of agreement between Sutro Tunnel Company and McCalmont Brothers modifying existing agreement, 1874
1/S1
6
Articles of agreement between Sutro Tunnel Company and the Consolidated Virginia Mining Company, 1879
1/S1
7
Agreement (draft) Sutro Tunnel Company and various mining companies, circa 1875
1/S1
8
Articles of agreement, Comstock Tunnel and Drainage Company and various mining companies, 1923
1/S1
9
Indenture of lease, 1879
1/S1
10
Hearing between Sutro Tunnel Company and James G. Fair, General Land Office, Carson City, Nevada, October 4, 1876

Series 2: Correspondence, 1869-1931 (22 folders)

The bulk of Series 2 consists of letters from Pelham W. Ames, secretary of the Sutro Tunnel Company to Adolph Sutro, 1877-1880, keeping Sutro informed on the progress, expenses, problems, and good news regarding the construction of the Sutro Tunnel. These letters are particularly significant in that they cover the period when the main tunnel construction was complete and just as Sutro began selling his stock in the company. Other pieces of correspondence include telegrams from Sutro with news of legislation from the U.S. Congress related to the tunnel, and a letterpress copy book of requisitions. Arranged chronologically.

box
folder
Contents
1/S2
1
Telegrams (2): Regarding the Ways and Means Committee; "Prospects excellent, bank influence anniliated [sic]", July 28, 1869; April 9, 1870
1/S2
2
Telegrams (2) regarding the Mineral Land Amendment Act, April 28, 1870
1/S2
3
Miscellaneous correspondence, 1872-1931
1/S2
4
Form letter from Adolph Sutro inviting "Dear Sir" to pay a visit to the tunnel, March 1873
1/S2
5
Letters (2): Letter to Hon. Clinton L. Merriam from Sutro, urging Merriam to carefully read the enclosed form letter; Form letter detailing actions of the "Bank of California Ring to rob the tunnel company of its vested rights", January 31, 1874; undated
1/S2
6
Telegrams (2) from Brush to Sutro regarding payments, February 19 and 20, 1873
1/S2
7-12
Letters from Pelham W. Ames to Adolph Sutro, December 18, 1877-November 13, 1878
box
folder
Contents
2/S2
13-21
Pelham W. Ames letters, November 14,1878-May 13, 1880
2/S2
22
Requisitions letterpress copy book, 1889-1894

Series 3: Reports, 1862-1909 (6 folders)

Series 3 consists of various manuscript reports related to tunnel construction from consulting mining engineers, Nevada and federal legislatures, and the tunnel superintendent. One of the most interesting of these is the report by Robert G. Carlyle, Acting Chief Engineer of the Sutro Tunnel Company, on the cost of running branches north and south of the main tunnel, written prior to beginning construction. Two letterpress copy books contain superintendents' reports for the period after the main tunnel was completed. Arranged chronologically.

box
folder
Contents
3/S3
1
"Part 3rd. Cost of Running Branch Tunnels, North and South, to Include the Various Mines in Drainage, Ventilation and Working Facilities," Robert G. Carlyle, Acting Chief Engineer of the Sutro Tunnel Company, March 12, 1866
3/S3
2
"Report of Committee [of the Nevada Legislature] on Federal Relations in Relation to Joint Memorial and Resolution Asking Government Aid in the Construction of the Sutro Tunnel", 1867
3/S3
3
"Report of the House Committee on Mines and Mining on the Sutro Tunnel, Nevada," Draft [by A. Sutro?], May 6, 1868
3/S3
4
Report of Superintendent, March 6, 1873
3/S3
5
Daily Record of Underground Work, July 1881-June 1883
3/S3
6
Superintendent's Reports, 1885-1886

Series 4: Financial Records, 1862-1909 (4 folders)

This very small series includes a canceled check, a few receipts, stock certificate, financial report, and payroll sheets. Arranged chronologically.

box
folder
Contents
3/S4
1
Receipts, canceled checks, 1862-1909
3/S4
2
Stock certificate, October 15, 1868
3/S4
3
Financial report, July and November 1873
3/S4
4
Payroll, 1878

Series 5: Printed Materials and Miscellaneous, 1867-1938 (10 folders)

Sutro made extensive use of the print media to bring news of the tunnel progress and prospects, opposition to the project, and Congressional attitudes to the public. Series 5 represents a small portion of what is still extant. Other printed items located in the Special Collections stacks are listed in Appendices A of this guide. Also included are clippings containing poems, news, published letters written by Sutro about corruption in Congress and the Central Pacific Railroad, and about the Sutro Library and Sutro family, especially Dr. Emma Sutro Merritt. A manuscript biography of Adolph Sutro is found in this series. According to the auction catalog describing the manuscript, it may be an autobiography, dictated by Sutro to his wife or daughter but never published. Arranged chronologically. Unless noted otherwise, all items are pamphlets.

box
folder
Contents
3/S5
1
Report on Committee on Federal Relations in Relation to Joint Memorial and Resolutions Asking Government Aid in the Construction of the Sutro Tunnel [Nevada], 1867
3/S5
2
40th Congress, 3rd session. H.R. 1657 in the House of Representatives, Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to H.R. 1657...[granting credit to Sutro for construction of tunnel], January 20, 1869
3/S5
3
Broadside: "Sutro Tunnel Company...Power of Attorney" Virginia City, Nevada (3 copies), October 4, 1869
3/S5
4
The Sutro Tunnel, In Congress, Explanatory Remarks, Bold Attempt by the Bank of California to Break Up the Sutro Tunnel Enterprise. Proceedings, House of Representatives, March 17 and 22-23, 1870
3/S5
5
"A Bill to Create a Fund to be Known as the 'Mineral Land Fund,' and for other Purposes," Bill S.1092, 41st Congress, 3rd Session, U.S. Senate, December 8, 1870
3/S5
6
"Light and Liberty." Clippings of poem and corrected printer's proof (in hand of author) read by Ella Sterling [Mighels] Cummings on the occasion of the unveiling of Sutro's liberty statue in San Francisco, November 23, no year
3/S5
7
The Star Supplement. San Francisco, "How Members of Congress are Bribed. An Open Letter," by Joseph H. Moore, July 21, 1894
3/S5
8
"The Following Letter Relating to Debts of the Pacific Railroads is Hereby Respectfully Submitted to Members of Congress..." by Henry E. Highton, January 23, 1897
3/S5
9
Miscellaneous clippings about the Sutro Library and Sutro family, especially Dr. Emma Sutro Merritt; Also, election ticket "People's Ticket," Location unknown, 1862
3/S5
10
Sutro biography, circa 1883
Item
Contents
10
Broadside: "Miners! Laboring Men! Mechanics! Rally!", undated
Item
Contents
11
Certificate: "Senate [Nevada] Concurrent Resolutions to Adolph Sutro...thanks for great services in originating the plan of the Sutro Tunnel...", January 25, 1867

Series 6: Photographs and Lithographs

This collection was accompanied by several photographs and an incomplete set of lithographs (proof illustrations) showing the Sutro Tunnel, Comstock Lode, and mining scenes, all by N. Orr & Co. The lithographs may have been intended to be published with the "Report on the Committee on Mines and Mining on the Sutro Tunnel", written in 1868 and published in 1872. All the photographs and lithographs were transferred to the photo archives of the Special Collections Department as collection UNRS-P1988-30.