Wawona Tunnel Thread

Search
Go

Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 1 - 47 of total 47 in this topic
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
T 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
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
Feb 8, 2013 - 01:47pm PT
Sorry these photos aren't the best quality. I must have taken them will the still function of my old video camera. These were taken in 2004. The camera was from the 90s.

Credit: the Fet

Credit: the Fet

Credit: the Fet

Credit: the Fet

Credit: the Fet

Credit: the Fet

Credit: the Fet

Must have been a two pitcher, me heading up the second pitch.

Credit: the Fet

Credit: the Fet

The next picture that day.

Credit: the Fet
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 8, 2013 - 03:45pm PT
Some awe for the Fet!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 9, 2013 - 12:23pm PT
Looking west from the central adit, notice the low fence.
Looking west from the central adit, notice the low fence.
Credit: LC
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 9, 2013 - 12:45pm PT
Some old shots of the Chinquapin gas station, located on the left side of the GP road back in the day. There is now a "rest station" on the other side of the GP Road. The ranger station is just across the highway, pictured.
Credit: LC
Credit: LC
Credit: LC
Credit: LC

VVV Those are not mine, W. I copied 'em out of the Library of Congress catalog file.
Walleye

climber
The Hot Kiss on the end of a Wet Fist
Feb 9, 2013 - 12:53pm PT
Mouse, when did you take those shots of Chinquapin?? I was the last person to live in that place before it got torn down in 92. I lived there for 4 years...
nita

Social climber
chica de chico, I don't claim to be a daisy.
Feb 9, 2013 - 01:07pm PT
Mouse, This is one of the postcards i owned for eons..kman won it in a S.T. contest. I think he has it at his home in Yosemite West.
Credit: nita

edit...Mentioned before..There used to be a fallout shelter in the tunnel. It had green three foot tall barrels - labeled: Survival supplies furnished by, the Office of Civil defensed-Department of Defense. Water supplies & food rations. ...and lots of cobwebs...



Wally, Without a doubt.. Chinquapin was one of the coolest housing units provided by Curry..
Fletcher

Trad climber
The great state of advaita
Feb 9, 2013 - 01:10pm PT
Thanks for the map in the original post. I've rambled up the Pohono Trail a few time over the years and that old Wawona Road has always fascinated me. You see remnants from the trail and both sides of the new road as you drive it.

Maybe it's just me, but the trees at Chinquapin seem a lot bigger now! Looks more open than I recall.

Eric

Edit: Nice shots, Fet!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 9, 2013 - 01:42pm PT
Just reflecting on how things change.

We oldsters remember things which are no longer around:
Mtn. Shop in Yosemite Village--now in Curry
Coffee Shops which are now restaurants
Waitresses with some style and are worth tipping
Bars which have morphed over the years
Gas stations no longer extant--Camp 4 and Chinquapin
Roads impassable due to rockfall--Coulterville Rd. to Foresta
Whole cliffs which are no longer all that safe to climb on--Apron
Bears who no longer have garbage to frolic in
Rangers who dislike carrying
A lounge with a fireplace--is it asking too much?

The Valley is now the Ditch.
And a chick is now just a...

pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Feb 9, 2013 - 02:52pm PT
mouse do u have any history/info of the Curry Ice skating rink?
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
Feb 9, 2013 - 02:52pm PT
A lounge with a fireplace--is it asking too much?

I did a tour of the Awahnee maybe 4 years ago. The guide said the first floor is public space. It is a dedicated national landmark or something like that.

Ever since then when we want to kick it at in the evening we head there.

During WWII it was a hospital/recuperation place for soldiers. Probably lots of other cool facts that I'm forgetting.
nita

Social climber
chica de chico, I don't claim to be a daisy.
Feb 9, 2013 - 07:02pm PT
It's been said before...The Lodge Lounge was an end of an era....sigh....
It was the place to hang out, meet people, dry your clothes, stay warm, make plans, work out, read, eat, make swear words with the carpet squares, and people watch.....
Out of everything...I miss this the most.
Out of everything...I miss this the most.
Credit: nita

Tunnel vision....to take this great place away...
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Feb 10, 2013 - 08:38am PT
Hey T H, nice photo. I remember those days....

Nita, you're making me cry. That fireplace was such a refuge in the winter, now just a sad memory...

What's your top speed through the tunnel ??

Yeah, something like 100 mph. We used to go there in the middle of the night. Stand on the sidewalk while your buddies drive by at 100 mph with the horn blowing the entire time. Awesome doppler effects.
BBA

climber
OF
Feb 10, 2013 - 11:35pm PT
Pyro asked about ice skating at Camp Curry. They put a barrier of logs around the parking lot then added water. It froze. Viola! Here's a picture of my grandfather and aunt ready to skate. My grandfather could cut figures in the ice having learnt how to skate on the canals of Holland when he was young.

Credit: BBA

There is more to winter activities back in the day. How about a sleigh ride?

Credit: BBA

That was easy. But wait, there's more! A tobaggan run at Camp Curry!

Credit: BBA

And how about a dogsled ride?

Credit: BBA

You can do all of these and even go cross country skiing.

Credit: BBA

The preceding group of photos resulted from a case of atheism run wild. My grandfather worked for the Yosemite Park and Curry Company as a jack of all trades and carpenter/wood worker extraordinary. The people in charge of the Bracebridge dinner wanted extra fancy props, but he refused to work on them on the grounds that it was a religious presentation and he didn't have to do such work because it was a national park and the separation of church and state applied. Nonetheless the company kept after him, so he relented and agreed if his family and their guests could attend gratis. This condition was accepted and so the folks in the photos made their way to Yosemite. It was such a big deal my Mom, who made about 33 cents an hour at Mongomery Wards, saved the menu.

Credit: BBA

drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Feb 11, 2013 - 12:28am PT
This is a great thread!
Loving all the history.

I tell ya, when I hit that Tunnel it is only after 12 hours of deserts, psycho truckers, central valley olfactory harassment, miles of winding coniferous video game turns, and all things related to a long single push road trip.
It doesn't matter how weary I am, the sight of the Tunnel and the instant blast of adrenalin and anticipation is f*#king unreal.
Then BAM.
Warp speed. Engage.
I'm in Yosemite.
SmokingChimp

climber
SoCal
Feb 11, 2013 - 01:08am PT
Yosemite Dispatches: Part 1
Pack the climbing gear and hit the road. A stop in Mariposa Grove then on to "the valley".
That beautiful tunnel is at about the 7 minute mark....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAKBsCOgg_c&list=UU59ZpheM5q4N6QRdzekR0MA&index=11
Ihateplastic

Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
Feb 11, 2013 - 01:17am PT
make swear words with the carpet squares

Now that is something I remember all too well!

Too many cold winter days spent drying out in there and mantling the fireplace hood and chess with Bachar. It was a wonderful room!
Fletcher

Trad climber
The great state of advaita
Feb 11, 2013 - 02:16am PT
BBA: great old photos/images with a personal story to boot. Can't beat that! Thanks for sharing!

drljefe: We are cut of the same cloth! Well said.

Eric
pud

climber
Sportbikeville & Yucca brevifolia
Feb 11, 2013 - 11:26am PT
Thanks Fet !!

That's the place. Hard to believe those climbers are 1000ft off the deck.
Last time I was there I was with a girlfriend. Now married, I have kids old enough to follow if not lead a couple of those routes! Crazy!
nita

Social climber
chica de chico, I don't claim to be a daisy.
Feb 11, 2013 - 12:06pm PT

BBA, Incredible pictures and back story....
Thanks so much for posting up .... Loved it!!



ps.. That menu is the bomb....any more pictures?


BBA

climber
OF
Feb 11, 2013 - 02:03pm PT
To Mouse, I apologize for the thread drift.

For Nita - Here are the other items my Mom had from the 12/31/1930 Bracebridge dinner.

First, the Proclamation:

Credit: BBA

Credit: BBA

The next picture is not politically correct, but it reflects the times.

Credit: BBA

Credit: BBA

The next pictures are of a setting which includes fancy woodwork done by Wm Kat.

Credit: BBA

Credit: BBA

Lastly, a rather large piece with my grandfather next to it.

Credit: BBA

I wrote a rather large book about my grandfather. One volume is of the Yosemite years at this link

https://sites.google.com/site/katbiography/volume-iv


throwpie

Trad climber
Berkeley
Feb 11, 2013 - 02:10pm PT
I've been holding my breath through the tunnel all my life...still do. My dad would slow down till we turned blue.
nita

Social climber
chica de chico, I don't claim to be a daisy.
Feb 11, 2013 - 11:22pm PT
BBA, Wow!!...Those pictures are classic .. Was your grandfather's wooden sculpture - at the head table?

ps, I'm sure Mouse does not mind you putting up more pictures..(-;...

Pss, Thanks for the link, i will check it out later.

T H

Boulder climber
bouldering
Feb 11, 2013 - 11:36pm PT
In the early 80s a crew was doing some repairs or something in there. I was impressed that they had a break area in one of the turn-outs complete with VCR/ TV playing some cheezey movie no doubt. Fairly high tech for the time.
TMJesse

Mountain climber
Olympia, WA
Feb 12, 2013 - 12:21am PT
It was our family (kids) tradition to try to hold our breath while driving through the tunnel. It's pretty tough unless dad's breaking the speed limit! The echos and sounds possible in there are so cool; plus, being deliberate to go there late at night makes it a special place in many ways.

The tunnel, the Ahwahnee, sledding, Chinquapin and Lodge Lounge additions are not only cool, they fit here so well. The human history of Yosemite Valley is an immeasurable part of what is valuable today and forever. Nature will win over what is there today and was there yesterday, but the history of us and our friends will pass along unless we document it. Fondly, I recall those long rainy days drying out in the lounge listening to some acoustic guitar/singer and hearing all the stories of everyone else who were also constantly looking out those huge windows to the drippy, slushy valley. . . .
pyro

Big Wall climber
Calabasas
Feb 12, 2013 - 09:07pm PT
Fantastic!
Credit: pyro
thank's for the share!
Credit: pyro
the dog sled where in yosmite was that at?

p.s. in the winter time i've seen the huge icicles hanging from Wawona tunnel while driving under them :/

WBraun

climber
Feb 12, 2013 - 09:16pm PT
My guess that sled run was just a few hundred feet down the street from the "LeConte Memorial Lodge".

Take a look sometime and you'll "see".

It's not obvious to most people at all .....
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 9, 2013 - 01:15pm PT
Credit: Ansel Adams
Notorious for thread drift himself, Mouse ponders the subject as he drives through the tunnel and hits the brakes just in time warp to switch the subject back to the present he got for Christmas in 1954, a Robbie Robot.
Messages 1 - 47 of total 47 in this topic
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
 
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks


Try a free sample topo!

 
SuperTopo on the Web

Review Categories
Recent Trip Report and Articles
Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews