Wawona Tunnel Thread

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mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 7, 2013 - 01:04am PT
Prior threads include
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=460702&msg=460702#msg460702
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1018797&msg=1018797#msg1018797

Weave decided to collect threads, MemyselfI. A little tailoring to sharpen up the "dressed" man, as it were, or woman: and as it's a tunnel, is that a pun or punnel?

So here's the lead-off with the usual modifications by me for brevity and concision. All facts and photos are lifted from good old Hank Johnston, former Yosemite Westian and no question our number one or two popular historian.

The old Wawona Road, 1926.  On the right, the hazards of descent into ...
The old Wawona Road, 1926. On the right, the hazards of descent into the Valley a bit earlier.
Credit: FSP Collection
The longest motor vehicle tunnel in the West when completed in 1933, the 4,230-foot Wawona Tunnel was drilled through in 698 days as a part of the 1929-33 relocation and paving of the old Wawona stage road.
In 1924 Park Director Stephen Mather and his associate Horace Albright helped bring about a $7.5 million appropriation for a road-building program, a monumental sum at that time, of course.
In 1925 the NPS and bureau of Public Roads (?) agreed on the construction of major park roads, resulting in 29 paved miles in the Valley and 15 oiled miles between 1926 and 1929. It was said that “the one act of paving the roads did more to return the Valley to its natural-appearing condition than anything since the stagecoach first churned up the obscuring dust many decades before.”
May, 1931.  Under construction.
May, 1931. Under construction.
Credit: YRL Collection
Stephen Mather wanted the Mariposa Grove to become an all-year attraction, so it needed a road, which in turn would allow access to winter skiing and open camping along the Glacier Point Road.
Harry S. Tolen of the BPR made the preliminary survey. An agreeable grade for the road could be obtained only by cutting a new right-of-way from Grouse Creek to the Valley that would run along the bluffs below Turtleback Dome at a lower elevation.
The NPS and the BPR decided to bore a tunnel through the mountainside. Alternatives were a road benched out of the cliffs, an ugly scar: a zigzag road was unsafe for autos of the time: an underpass in the region near the foot of Bridalveil Fall was rejected as well.
View of the tunnel interior during construction.
View of the tunnel interior during construction.
Credit: YRL Collection

Construction began on November 30, 1930.
Contractors, working under BPR supervision, were required to bore the tunnel from the east end only for a distance of 4,230 feet (width 28 feet; height, 19 feet). The average daily progress driving the bore through the solid granite was 20 feet, and 85 tons of drill steel were worn out during construction. Each shift used an average of 5,000 feet of steel.
The formal opening of the new Wawona Tunnel on June 10, 1933.
The formal opening of the new Wawona Tunnel on June 10, 1933.
Credit: FSPCollection
No timbering was required, although 775 feet of reinforced steel concrete was placed where there was any question of loose rock. All excavated material was used in the construction of the approach road from the Valley floor and in the parking areas. A total of 275 tons of powder was required, with average shot measuring about 2,000 pounds.
The grade in the tunnel is 5%, approaches 6%. The max depth of rock above is 550 feet. The max distance from tunnel to edge of cliff is 503 feet. Not a single person was killed or seriously injured on the project, which cost $847,500, significant by Great Depression standards.
Superintendent Thompson on the day the cars were allowed thru, his bei...
Superintendent Thompson on the day the cars were allowed thru, his being the first. January 28, 1932.
Credit: YRL Collection
It took the balance of 1933 for contractors to finish paving the new road all the way from the Mariposa Grove to Yosemite Valley. CCC crews planted native vegetation along the large cuts and fills in an effort to “restore nature.”
This newspaper map from a 1932 publication show the progress of the ne...
This newspaper map from a 1932 publication show the progress of the new route at the time.
Credit: FSP Collection
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
Feb 7, 2013 - 01:16am PT
In late April, if you park at the end of the tunnel, and hike up to the old road, then down a little to the East, you get to this spot where the rainbow looks just right. About mid afternoon.

Bridalveil Falls from just the right angle and just the right time.
Bridalveil Falls from just the right angle and just the right time.
Credit: Red
ί Ξ Ψ T Η H

Boulder climber
bouldering
Feb 7, 2013 - 01:33am PT
Fletcher

Trad climber
The great state of advaita
Feb 7, 2013 - 02:13am PT
This is gonna be a good one. High quality posting so far.

I call it the "blow me away" tunnel, since every time I pass though it into the valley, I am consistently moved and blown away.

Eric
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Feb 7, 2013 - 02:24am PT
Very nice history spot!

Guido and his daggum hat is even there, in 1930!
Vegasclimber

Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV.
Feb 7, 2013 - 02:31am PT
Cool thread Mr. Mouse.

I've been through the tunnel of course, and I seem to remember reading that one of the tunnels has an old bomb shelter built into it. Anyone happen to know where it is? I seem to recall someone telling about going into it BITD.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 7, 2013 - 03:13pm PT
Credit: mouse from merced
You are challenging my technicles, Travis.
If an eagle were flying from the north side of the valley to Wawona, his view would be similar. Or better yet, if Superman were flying south, then he'd be able to tell you where the lateral shafts are. Or you can see the shafts' outlets from across the way, possibly, but I've never bothered to look for myself.

"B" marks the relative position of the two subsidiary vent shafts--I've been told there are two but never stopped in the tunnel to look at them that I can remember.

"A" is the side shaft where the CD supplies were kept. It was designated as a bomb shelter in the fifties, mainly because of the proximity of Beale and Castle AFBs, the two SAC bases in the central valley.

Raids of CD biscuits by Flames did take place on two different occasions. The likes of Stewart and Donohoe and Cowboy corrupting us Merced boys...

I know Matt and Pat climbed some things by the west tunnel entrance, but am not sure at all what or where. I don't believe they were claiming any FAs, however.
Roxy

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
Feb 7, 2013 - 03:29pm PT
Nice pictures!
Radish

Trad climber
SeKi, California
Feb 7, 2013 - 03:36pm PT
Early 80's around 3am, we started into the valley side of the tunnel,both with our quad skates on. Nobody around, no cars except for the one we came in. Its alittle uphill the whole way to the other side and in the middle somewhere it was wet for several hundred feet. On the west side we turned around and had the skate of our lives! It wasn't so much the steepness, we zig-zagged, it was the speed we had gathered when the wet spot came on. I slid the whole way when I had gone down just 20 feet in, then got up and with momentum, skated sideways then up. The thing that really blew us away was the echo! Wholly cow! It repeated for the whole time we were in. Finally a car came, our worst fear, and it swooshed by as we cowered along the curb, still sliding. The echo that made was madding! It seemed like we were headed for the valley opening at a high speed and we were going to be shot into space like from a cannon very soon, but lucky for us we were able to stop down the road alittle. Good Times! We did this after we did the other tunnels on the tioga road that same memorable night! Maybe an FA?? We like to think so..............
QITNL

climber
Feb 7, 2013 - 04:28pm PT


courtesy yosemitenews.info
courtesy yosemitenews.info
Credit: QITNL
Dapper Dan

Trad climber
Menlo Park
Feb 7, 2013 - 04:40pm PT
Secondary thread !!

What's your top speed through the tunnel ??

Me: about 105 mph on the motor sicle...


There are some nice routes on the western side : Eat at Degnan's ?? 5.9 ? I remember climbing up a pretty thin flake , nice route .
Norwegian

Trad climber
Pollock Pines, California
Feb 7, 2013 - 04:54pm PT
it's a good thing
ist a damn good thing
that the wind is homeless...

blowing thru mountain piercings
and john's sax
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 7, 2013 - 05:19pm PT
http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/hhh.ca1918.photos.041895p/
http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ca1652.photos.041859p/
Walleye

climber
The Hot Kiss on the end of a Wet Fist
Feb 7, 2013 - 05:19pm PT
I believe J.B. is blowing in the 120 tunnel, not that it matters.
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Feb 7, 2013 - 05:35pm PT
now this is a thread!
nice pictures.
that tunnel is a "warp tunnel" to granite happy land.
pud

climber
Sportbikeville & Yucca brevifolia
Feb 7, 2013 - 05:43pm PT
Anyone here done the Blowhole routes accessed via West end of the tunnel?

We walked in/out there one day only to be held back by weather.
Nice moderate routes with great exposure.

I don't think they see much traffic though..


nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
Feb 7, 2013 - 05:45pm PT
I've never ever been through Wawona tunnel or that popular turn-out area. How did that happen? I did at least make it up to Glacier Point.

Bump.
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
Feb 7, 2013 - 05:54pm PT
Anyone here done the Blowhole routes accessed via West end of the tunnel?

Yes, some fun bolted routes. I have some photos on a hard drive I'll have to look for.
pud

climber
Sportbikeville & Yucca brevifolia
Feb 7, 2013 - 06:02pm PT
I'd love to see the pics Fet.
I have some on film in a box somewhere.. (been a while since I've been there)
BBA

climber
OF
Feb 8, 2013 - 10:19am PT
One of my uncles and family lived in the Old Village, A22, from 1937-1942. The Old Village used to be by the church but is now only an historical note - except for those parts moved up to Wawona. It's the moving up to Wawona that involves the tunnel. The tunnel wasn't big enough for A22, so the house was cut in two, hauled up to Wawona and reassembled.

Credit: BBA
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