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17 The two highway tunnels that penetrate the granite below the main, or upper, cave at Cave Rock played an important part in the dispute regarding climbing and Washoe spirituality at the site. Early in the controversy, portions of the area were closed to climbing because of the danger of rockfall onto the roadway below. While accepting that limited closure, climbers argued that most of the area should remain open, claiming that the site was no longer sacred or meaningful to the Washoes because of the tunnels’ traffic and noise. Ironically, in the final decision the tunnels would weigh against the climbers. The tunnels figured significantly in the 1998 finding that Cave Rock qualified as a national historic transportation district. The new status added another element to Cave Rock’s consideration for eligibility to the National Register. Early-twentieth-century bureaucrats and planners gave little thought to the imposition of machine technology on culture. In 1928, however, University of Chicago sociologist William F. Ogburn published an article on inventions in the American Journal of Sociology. He acknowledged the strangeness of writing about mechanical devices in a periodical dealing with social change, but argued that it was not only acceptable but obligatory. He observed that mechanical changes positively or negatively affected the social welfare of human beings. “Indeed,” he wrote, “it may be argued, with some success that the origins of most of the innumerable social changes occurring today lie in new inventions of a mechanical nature.”1 Events in early-twentieth-century Nevada supported his thesis, in particular with regard to the automobile and its effects on numerous aspects of life; it certainly proved true for the Washoes and Cave Rock. At the beginning of the twentieth century the automobile industry and the railroads were battling for the loyalty of the American traveler. In 1900 the old Madison Square Garden hosted the nation’s first auto show. t w o The Tunnels 18 cave rock   By 1903 a magazine named Outing touted the possibility of rediscovering America by automobile. Local chambers of commerce and enterprises that would profit from car traffic—car makers and sellers; the rubber, oil, cement, and road machinery industries; and quarry, sand, and gravel pit businesses—promoted automobile travel. In the 1920s the automobile industry won the battle and the car became America’s preeminent mode of travel. But unlike the railroad, the auto industry had developed its rolling stock well before sufficient roadways were present to carry it.2 Advocates of the automobile initially promoted local road building. The federal government created the Office of Public Roads in 1905, but the agency served essentially as an advisory body and provided few funds. In 1912 Congress approved funds for building roads in the national forests and parks, but it was not until 1916, stimulated by the idea of a national, coast-to-coast highway, that the government established substantial assistance for a road system. A group of cars that worked its way over local roads on a proposed central overland route from the Midwest to San Francisco generated publicity for the idea. When its promoters attached the name “Lincoln” to the proposed national highway, the idea captured America’s fancy. In fall 1913 the Lincoln Highway Association began organizing national propagandizing, and in July 1916 the federal government became actively involved, passing the Federal Highway Aid Act.3 Money from federal, state, and county coffers funded the suddenly rapid development of roads and highways. Ohio, for example, spent $460 on its roads in 1905 and $17 million in 1926. Along with passenger and commercial utilization, medical, school, and mail services made extensive use of the roads.4 In 1927, after eight years of work, the incredible 9,250-foot-long Holland Tunnel beneath the Hudson River was completed . Meanwhile, engineers in the West designed the greatest structure of the generation—the Golden Gate Bridge—although it would not be completed until 1937. In mid-January 1931 the Forest Service highway funds program allotted $245,833 to the state of Nevada. Of that amount planners designated $86,000 for construction of three miles of the Lincoln Highway from Cave Rock to Zephyr Cove. Most of that money was to be used to bore a 151-foot tunnel through Cave Rock for a two-lane highway. A portion of the funds would create a parking and viewing area west of the old trestle road. The Nevada Department of Highways predicted that “the comple- the tunnels   19 tion of...


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