Adolph Sutro

King of the Comstock Lode and Mayor of San Francisco


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About the Book

Adolph Sutro was forever seeking challenges. Emigrating from Prussia to the U.S. at age 20, the California gold rush lured him west. At the Comstock Lode in Nevada, he conceived an idea for a tunnel to drain the hot water that made the mines perilous and inefficient. But he would have to overcome both physical obstacles and powerful opposition by the Bank of California to realize his vision.
Back in San Francisco, Sutro bought one twelfth of the city, including the famous Cliff House perched over the Pacific Ocean. When it burned to cinders on Christmas Day, 1894, he built a massive, eight-story Victorian replacement. He used his expertise in tunneling and water solutions to create the world’s largest enclosed swimming structure, the Sutro Baths—six glass-covered heated saltwater pools with capacity of 1,000 swimmers.
Other challenges followed but Sutro was not invincible. After a two-year term as mayor of San Francisco, he succumbed to debilitating strokes which left him senile. His death in 1898 started disputes among his heirs—six children by his wife and two by his mistress—that lasted more than a decade.

About the Author(s)

William R. Huber worked at Bell Telephone Laboratories and other major American technology companies before becoming an expert witness in patent litigation cases. He lives in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

William R. Huber
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 294
Bibliographic Info: 154 photos, 22 maps, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8039-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3840-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Foreword—Nevada Chapters by Patrick Neylan 1

Foreword—San Francisco Chapters by Charles A. Fracchia 3

Preface 5

Introduction 9

 1. The End 11

 2. Roots and Uprooted 13

 3. Some That Glitters 16

 4. The Country Reacts 23

 5. Go West, Young Man 30

 6. Sutro, the Shop Owner 37

 7. Mr. Sutro Goes to Washoe 44

 8. All the News 54

 9. Mining in Hell 58

10. From Riches to Rags 65

11. William Ralston—Boat Captain to Financial Captain 68

12. Rehabilitation 74

13. Homework 79

14. Endorsement 83

15. Rejection 88

16. Starting Over 92

17. Workin’ on the Railroad 99

18. Mines, Mills and Money 103

19. Start Digging! 107

20. Mr. Sutro Goes to Washington 118

21. That Sounds French 126

22. Sutro Builds Sutro 131

23. Water, Water 136

24. The King Is Dead; Long Live the Kings 138

25. A Hole in the Ground to Pour Money Into 146

26. The Devil Is in the Details 156

27. A Family Man? 159

28. Return to San Francisco 164

29. Sutro Heights 167

30. Clara and Leah 176

31. The Cliff House—Before Sutro 179

32. The Cliff House—With Sutro 184

33. Gingerbread Palace 191

34. Glass Houses 196

35. The Philobiblist 206

36. His Honor, the Mayor 211

37. Decline, Demise, Disputes 216

38. Epilogue—Nevada 223

39. Epilogue—San Francisco 234

Chapter Notes 249

Bibliography 265

Index 277